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

Wednesday, February 16, 2005
Good morning, this is Evelyn Lees with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is Wednesday, February 16th 2005, and its 7:30 in the morning.

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.

The Friends of the Utah Avalanche Center has 6 openings left in their February 3-day avalanche class, the 19-21st.  Registration is at Black Diamond retail, call 278-0233.

Current Conditions:
A weak warm front is pushing through the region this morning, and temperatures in the southern half of the range have warmed 5 to 10 degrees overnight, and are in the teens and 20s this morning. Winds overnight were from a southwest to westerly direction, in the 15 to 20 mph range with gusts into the 30s. Deep, wonderful powder exists on all aspects, with just a slight sun crust on south through west.

Avalanche Conditions:
The snow from the last storm came in right side up, and was relatively well behaved, producing sluffs and a few shallow soft slabs on steep slopes. However, the additional weight from the storm has made the weaker faceted layers lurking 2 to 3 feet beneath sensitive to the weight of a person or control work. Yesterday there were 3 human triggered slides in the Salt Lake mountains, 1 in the Ogden mountains and numerous slides into old snow in the Provo and Ogden mountains from control work. The human triggered slides were in Silver Fork (photo1, photo2), East Butler Fork and Alexander Basin, on northwest through northeast facing slopes, all steeper than 35 degrees. The slides were soft and hard slabs, triggered between 8,500 and 9,500 and all broke into faceted old snow, often near a thin ice crust. Two were triggered remotely, and the largest was triggered 3 turns into the slope, and was 30 deep and 175 wide. The skier was able to safely escape to the side after a short ride, avoiding a 900 vertical, tree snapping ride. There was also one 100 wide natural low down within the old bed surface in Dutch Draw, triggered by a sluff. I have put details on these and other avalanches on the 364-1591 line. There were numerous reports of cracking and collapsing from all elevations through out the range.

These are tricky avalanche conditions intoxicating powder, no significant natural activity, but well hidden, variable weak layers just waiting for a trigger. So the key to enjoying all that fresh powder will be watching your slope angles, and staying off of slopes steeper than about 35 degrees. Slides can be triggered remotely from a distance, so also avoid travel adjacent to and below steeper slopes.

And finally, with warmer temperatures and the possibility of mostly sunny skies later today, wet sluffs could become a problem. The snow could heat up and sluff on steep sunny slopes and on the mid and low elevation shady slopes.

Bottom Line (Salt Lake, Park City, Provo, and Ogden mountains):
T
he avalanche danger is CONSIDERABLE on mid and upper elevation slopes steeper then 35 degrees, facing northwest through east, and on any steep slope with recent or old deposits of wind drifted snow. The danger is MODERATE on other steep slopes. On slopes less steep than about 35 degrees, the avalanche danger is LOW.

Mountain Weather:
A warm front is working its way north across the state, bringing mostly cloudy skies and warmer temperatures to the mountains. A few snow flurries are possible this morning, and then skies should partially clear by this afternoon. Highs today will be in the upper 20s at 8,000 and the upper teens at 10,000. The southwesterly winds will shift to the northwest and decrease to less than 10 mph. After a night of clear skies and light winds, Thursday will be mostly sunny and warmer. The next storm is forecast to start affecting the area by Friday night.

 

Wasatch Powderbird did not fly yesterday, and if they can fly today will be in Cardiff, Days, Silver, Mill Creek and Grizzly.

A huge thanks to everyone who sent in observations yesterday!!! So please calling us at 524-5304 or 1-800-662-4140, or e-mail us at [email protected]. Fax is 524-6301.

UDOT COTTONWOOD CANYONS HOTLINE FOR ROAD CLOSURE INFORMATION: 975-4838. 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.

I will update this advisory by 7:30 on Thursday morning.
Thanks for calling.

For an explanation of avalanche danger ratings:

http://www.avalanche.org/~uac/ed-scale.htm