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, March 23, 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, March 23, 2005, and its 7:30 in the morning.

Avalanche control will be done in Provo Canyon today, so expect delays.


Current Conditions:
A moist spring storm moved into northern Utah last night, and as of 6 am most areas have received 8 to 12 of dense snow, with about an inch of water equivalent. Winds blasted from the southwest for about 18 hours, in the 25 to 35 mph range with gusts in the 40s and 50s, but this morning have decreased to more moderate speeds at many locations. Temperatures warmed throughout the night, and are in the mid-twenties to low 30s.

Avalanche Conditions:
Avalanche activity reported from the Salt Lake mountains yesterday included both sensitive and stubborn wind drifts, with the largest trigged 16" deep by 150' wide, and more reports of collapsing on northerly facing slopes. Activity was more widespread in the Ogden area mountains, with very sensitive slab avalanches released in wind drifted terrain by explosives, ski cuts, and cornice kicks, some being remotely triggered. These were up to 14" deep by 300' wide, and failing on facets.

Today, there are definitely some slopes you do not want to be riding or skiing on. The combination of heavy, dense snow, warmer temperatures, and strong winds has created wind drifts that must be avoided on steep slopes. Like yesterday, I expect some of the wind drifts to be more stubborn than others, but they have the potential to be large once they move. The new snow will also have overloaded the buried weak layers of surface hoar and facets on some slopes. These faceted weak layers are most widespread on mid and upper elevation shady slopes, and if you trigger a slide on one of these weak layers it could be 3 to 4 deep. These slides can be triggered from a distance, so be aware of what is above and to the side of you. Wet loose sluffs will be a problem at the lower elevations today, below about 7,500.

Bottom Line (Salt Lake and Park City, Ogden, and Provo mountains)
The avalanche danger is HIGH on slopes approaching 35 degrees in steepness, facing northwest through north through east or steep slopes having recent deposits of wind drifted snow. Avalanche can be triggered from below or from a distance. The avalanche danger is much lower, MODERATE, in wind sheltered terrain or on slopes less steep than about 35 degrees. There is a MODERATE danger of wet loose sluffs at the lower elevations.

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

Mountain Weather: (You can find the afternoon Weather Update here.)
A cold, moist upper level flow will remain over the western states through Friday. Today, snow, heavy at times, with an additional 9 to 12 possible. The southwesterly winds will be in the 20 to 30 mph range, occasionally blowing a bit harder across the higher peaks. Temperatures will remain near 30 at 8,000 and in the mid 20s at 10,000 until the cooler air arrives sometime in the early afternoon. Tonight, cloudy with another few inches of snow possible, and moderate to strong westerly winds. Snow showers will continue through Friday, with a break on Saturday.

The Powderbird guides did not get out yesterday, and will not fly today.

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.

If you are getting out, we appreciate your snowpack and avalanche observations. Please call and leave a message at 524-5304 or 1-800-662-4140, or e-mail us at [email protected]. Fax is 524-6301. 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.

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

Thanks for calling.