Wasatch Cache National Forest
In partnership with: Utah State Parks and Recreation, The Friends of the Utah Avalanche Center, Utah Department of Emergency Services and Homeland Security and Salt Lake County.


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Avalanche advisory

Tuesday, February 15, 2005
Good morning, this is Brett Kobernik with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is Tuesday, February 15th 2005, and its 7:30 in the morning.

Bruce Tremper will give a talk called the Science of Avalanches at the SLC REI tonight at 7:00 pm.

Our partner The Friends of the Utah Avalanche Center is hosting another event.  Tickets are now on sale for the annual Banff Film Festival, February 16 & 17, at Kingsbury Hall, and all proceeds benefit the Utah Avalanche Center.  For more information call 801/581-8516 or go to www.banffmountainfestivals.ca. 

Current Conditions:
Well, the snow finally made it to the central Wasatch.  The Park City Ridgeline and the Cottonwood Canyons picked up about a foot of new snow overnight.  The Provo area mountains received about 8” and the Ogden area mountains only picked up a few new inches overnight.  Storm totals are now fairly even at around 14” or better from Ogden down to Provo.  Temperatures have dropped into the upper teens along the upper ridges.  Monday’s moderate southwest winds have calmed and are now blowing from the northwest in the 10 to 15 mph range.  However there are still gusts in the 20 to 30 mph range which is strong enough to transport the new snow.

Avalanche Conditions:
Wind drifting was the main concern from yesterday and I received mixed reports of how sensitive these fresh drifts were.  The more sensitive areas were reported from the upper ends of the Cottonwood Canyons and the Park City Ridgeline.  There were a few natural avalanches reported from Monday with the most notable in South Monitor Bowl.  It was 6 to 12” deep, 100 to 150’ wide and ran about 600’ vertical to the bottom of the bowl.

With the new snow overnight and strong enough wind speeds to transport snow, fresh wind drifts will be the biggest concern for today as well.  Watch for cracking in the new snow and be wary of any snow that has a hollow sound when traveling over it.  Many of the drifts from yesterday are now covered with new snow and will be hard to recognize.

Also, you should keep in mind that the underlying snowpack is not 100% stable.  I found a few areas where the snow collapsed while I was breaking trail on Monday, which would indicate some weakness within the snowpack.  This weakness is not present on all slopes but I would continue to do careful evaluation of the deeper snowpack while traveling today.  There are enough weak layers that avalanches may break into the old snow especially in the Provo area mountains.  These avalanches will be much deeper and could also be triggered from a distance.

Bottom Line (Salt Lake, Park City, Provo, and Ogden mountains):
he avalanche danger is CONSIDERABLE on all upper elevation slopes steeper then 35 degrees especially with recent deposits of wind drifted snow.  The danger is MODERATE on the steep shady slopes at the mid and low elevations that don’t have fresh wind drifts.   

Mountain Weather:
The HEAVY SNOW WARNING has been extended to 11 am today for the central Wasatch mountains.  2 to 6” more snow is possible this morning.  Skies will become partly cloudy this afternoon with ridgetop temperatures in the upper teens and ridgetop winds around 20 mph from the northwest. 


The flow will switch to the southwest tonight bringing warm, moist air with another chance of snow for Wednesday.  Thursday looks like the best chance for a break in the precipitation then more chances for snow into the weekend.


Yesterday, Wasatch Powderbird guides were not able to fly.  Today, if possible, they’ll be in Cardiff, Days, Silver, Grizzly and American Fork.

We really appreciate any information you are willing to give us.  You don’t have to be an avalanche expert to give us some observations so please call and leave a message on our answering machine at 524-5304 or 1-800-662-4140, or e-mail us at [email protected].  Fax is 524-6301.

The Friends of the Utah Avalanche Center also has some openings left in their February 3-day avalanche class, the 19-21st.  Registration is at Black Diamond retail.


Early birds can catch our early morning report at 6am by calling 364-1591.

The information in this advisory is from the U.S. Forest Service, which is solely responsible for its content.  This advisory describes general avalanche conditions and local variations always occur.

Evelyn Lees will update this advisory by 7:30 on Wednesday morning.

Thanks for calling.

For an explanation of avalanche danger ratings: