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

Thursday, March 24, 2005
Good morning, this is Evelyn Lees with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is Thursday, March 24, 2005, and its 7:30 in the morning.


In Provo Canyon, the county road and bikepath are closed from Bridalveil/Nunns parking lot to Frasier Park due to avalanche danger.

Current Conditions: 
A colder, moist west to northwest flow kept snow falling, with the mountains picking up another 5 to 12” overnight.  This brings upper elevation storm totals since Tuesday afternoon into the 1 ½ to 3 foot range, with 2 to 3” of water equivalent.   The winds finally decreased, and are now 10 to 15 mph from the west northwest, with speeds across the highest peaks in the 20 to 30 mph range.  Temperatures have cooled into the low 20’s to upper teens at 10,000’. 

Avalanche Conditions:
Natural avalanche activity from the backcountry yesterday consisted mostly of shallow new snow soft slabs, up to 100’ wide, with wind loaded areas and north through east facing slopes the most active.  Some slides initiated mid-slope due to wind loading well off the ridges.  Ski cuts in the backcountry were easily releasing similar new snow slides, with results from control work at ski areas a bit larger, 1 to 3’ deep and up to 400’ wide.  The largest natural reported was Superior hitting the closed road around 10 am.  Cornices were sensitive, breaking back further than expected.
In the Ogden area mountains, there were more reports of collapsing on facets below the ice crust, and slides initiating within the new snow would step down into that layer.  One test slope in the Parleys’ summit area also released on facets at the old snow interface. (Photos one, two, three) There will continue to be isolated places on shady, sheltered slopes where slides could break at the old snow interface, resulting in deeper slides.  Great photos from yesterday: http://www.avalanche.org/%7Euac/photos/Images04-05/3-23-05/ http://www.avalanche.org/%7Euac/photos/Images04-05/Brighton_Craig_3-23-05/ http://wowasatch.com/pictures/March%2022/n-facing-west-bowl.jpg

While it’s winter up high, there are spring conditions at the lower elevations.  There were both natural and easily triggered wet loose sluffs yesterday below about 8,000’ that gouged down and resulted in impressive debris piles.  If the clouds thin or the sun peeks out today, the snow may rapidly heat on many elevations and aspects, resulting in more widespread wet avalanche activity.  Particularly avoid terrain traps such as gullies, where the cement like wet snow could pile up deeply.

Bottom Line (Salt Lake and Park City mountains)
The avalanche danger is CONSIDERABLE on slopes approaching 35 degrees in steepness with recent deposits of wind drifted snow, especially those shady slopes facing northwest through east.  Other steep slopes have a MODERATE danger. There is a MODERATE danger of wet loose sluffs below about 8,000’, and on any steep slope receiving direct sun today the danger may rise to CONSIDERABLE.
Bottom Line (Provo and Ogden mountains).
The avalanche danger is HIGH on and below slopes steeper than about 35 degrees.  Both human triggered and natural avalanches are likely.  Large natural avalanches have occurred overnight and this morning.  People without good avalanche and backcountry travel skills should avoid travel in the Provo and Ogden area mountains today.  Avoid travel in avalanche runout zones.

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 northern Utah today.  Skies will be mostly cloudy today, with periods of light snow and an additional 5 to 8” possible.  The westerly winds will continue to decrease, and should be less than 15 mph by afternoon.  Highs today will be in the upper 20’s at 8,000’ and the upper teens at 10,000’.  Unsettled weather will continue through Friday night, with periods of snow.  A sharp warm up and an increase in winds are in store for Sunday into Monday, ahead of a storm expected early next week.

The Powderbird guides did not get out yesterday, and probably will not get out today, but if they do will be in Cardiff, Days, Silver and Grizzly.

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. 

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.

Bruce Tremper will update our early morning avalanche activity report by around 5:30 am on Friday morning at 364-1591, and this advisory by 7:30.

Thanks for calling.