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

Monday, March 21, 2005
Good morning, this is Drew Hardesty with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is Monday, March 21, 2005, and its 7:30 in the morning.

Snowbird Mountain Resort will be holding a free BEACON AND EGGS Easter transceiver hunt this Saturday March 26.  Contestants will compete for prizes, including a season pass for the 05/06 season.  For more information, go to www.snowbird.com/events/events/beaconandeggs.html.
Current Conditions: 
Spring has sprung! 
A blockbuster pounded the Wasatch with heavy snow and winds and totals across the range are 15-18” in the Ogden mountains, 13-15” in the Park City and Provo mountains, and up to 2’ in the Cottonwoods.  By noon, the northwest winds really started to howl into the 30’s and 40’s, drifting and cross-loading slopes producing periods of whiteout conditions.  After some clearing, another storm pushed through overnight with 3-6” already by 6am.  Snow will the heavies this morning, tapering off by the afternoon.

Avalanche Conditions:
Yesterday’s onslaught produced very sensitive avalanches in the backcountry, first with the high snowfall rates (2-3”/hr) in the morning and then again when the winds started nuking by noon.  Going through the checklist, we just about had it all yesterday: cracking- check, collapsing - check, pockety naturals, ultra sensitive soft slabs, avalanches in to old snow, remotely triggered slides, shallow wet slab avalanches.  Check, check, check.  Most slides were 1-2’ deep and 50-150’ wide and teetered on the edge of become unmanageable.  With the winds, all aspects got into the action, with many pulling out well off the ridgelines.  The pucker factor kept folks from hitting any big exposed lines; instead, most stayed on ridgelines and lower angled terrain, only sticking their neck out onto slopes steeper than 35 degrees if the consequences were minimized or they were executing a slope cut.  Also of interest were the avalanches pulling out into faceted snow.  One of our more hirsute observers in the Wilson Glades remotely triggered a 2’x150’ wide avalanche from 100 yards away while on the uptrack, and then remotely triggered another in Bonus Bowl at the end of the day.  These were on north facing slopes at 9400’ and 8500’ Down in Provo, in the Sundance backcountry, a skier triggered a 15-24” soft slab into older faceted snow (photo w/obvious facets), pulling out 250’ wide on a 38-41 degree northeast aspect at 8800’. 

If yesterday the snowpack was generous and offered multiple clues to the avalanche conditions, today it might be a little more shy.  Cornice drops, column isolations, and test slopes will still yield some important information about snow stability.  Steep wind loaded slopes that haven’t settled out yet will be the most cause for concern, but these may be difficult to spot with the new snow covering them up.  Many of yesterday’s slides occurred well off the ridges, so keep it cool and follow good protocol all the way back to the car.  Avalanches may still be triggered at a distance today at mid and upper elevation shady slopes. 

Bottom Line (Salt Lake and Park City, Ogden, and Provo mountains)
The avalanche danger remains CONSIDERABLE on all wind drifted slopes steeper than 35 degrees.  You can find LOW danger on slopes less steep than 35 degrees without steeper terrain above. 

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

Mountain Weather: (You can find the afternoon Weather Update here.)
Snowfall should be heaviest this morning with another 4-8” likely by the time it tapers off this afternoon.  A shortwave ridge builds in tonight ahead of another juicy storm Tuesday night into Wednesday.  The third storm for the week is slated for Thursday night into Friday.  8000’ highs will be in the mid-twenties with 10,000’ temperatures in the high teens.  The northwesterly winds will continue in the 15-20mph range, slacking off by the afternoon. 

The Powderbirds didn’t get out yesterday and likely won’t get out again today.

If you have any snow or avalanche observations, call and leave a message 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 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.

Brett Kobernik will update this advisory by 7:30 on Tuesday morning.

Thanks for calling.