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, March 08, 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 March 8, 2005, and its 7:30 in the morning.

Current Conditions:
Skies are partly cloudy, winds have picked up along the ridges and temperatures are again a few degrees warmer then yesterday at this same time. Winds are from the northwest in the 25 mph range along the ridges with gusts from 60 to 80 mph recorded at 11,000 feet. Lower elevations are not seeing as much wind at this time. Temperatures at 8000 feet are above freezing in the mid 30s and ridgetop temperatures are near 30.

Avalanche Conditions:
A couple of very experienced backcountry skiers were caught in an avalanche that they triggered on Monday near Lone Peak. (photo 1, photo 2). They were both carried a short distance and were not buried or injured. The slide was 2 to 8 inches deep, 50 feet wide, and ran 150 feet vertical distance. The steepest part of the slope was 37 degrees but the slide was triggered from a collapse failure lower on the slope where the angle was around 30 degrees. It was at 10,500 feet on an east northeast aspect and was a wind slab that formed after the last small snow event on February 28th. Heating was suspected to be a contributing factor to this slide.

Current winds will probably form some new drifts along the ridges that could be sensitive today. Also, the warmer temperatures will affect the snow and could play a role in avalanche activity as well.

Its easy to let your guard down during periods of high pressure when not a lot of avalanche activity is happening. Continue to follow safe backcountry protocol. Cross slopes one person at a time and move away from steep slopes that are getting wet.

Bottom Line (Salt Lake, Park City, Provo, and Ogden mountains):
With the strong winds and warming temperatures, the avalanche danger is on the rise. The avalanche danger is MODERATE on slopes steeper then 35 degrees that have become wet or have fresh wind deposited snow. The timing of wet avalanche activity can be quite hard to predict so pay special attention to this as temperatures are warming.

For an explanation of avalanche danger ratings go to: http://www.avalanche.org/~uac/ed-scale.htm

Mountain Weather: (You can find the afternoon Weather Update here.)
The wind will continue to blow strong along the upper ridges from the northwest today. Ridgetop temperatures will be around 30 degrees and well have partly cloudy skies over the mountains.

Winds will decrease on Wednesday then a weak disturbance with a northwest flow will affect the area on Thursday but not producing much more then some wind and light snow flurries. Then were back to high pressure for Friday and Saturday.

Yesterday, Wasatch Powderbird Guides did get out to American Fork in the afternoon. Winds will probably keep them grounded today but if they fly, they will be in Mill Creek, Mineral, Cardiff, Days, Silver, Grizzly Gulch, American Fork and the Cascade Ridge area.

If you have any snow or avalanche observations, call and leave a message at 524-5304 or 1-800-662-4140, or e-mailing us at [email protected]. Fax is 524-6301.

UDOT COTTONWOOD CANYONS HOTLINE FOR ROAD CLOSURE AND AVALANCHE CONTROL INFORMATION: 975-4838. We try to update our early morning avalanche activity report by around 5:30 am at 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.