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

Friday, April 08, 2005
Good morning, this is Drew Hardesty with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is Friday, April 08, 2005, and its 7:30 in the morning.  Today’s advisory on our web page contains a user survey.  Please take a few minutes to complete it so we can better our forecasts for you.  The web site is utahavalanchecenter.com, click on Wasatch Range.

Current Conditions: 
It seemed as if there were more ravens playing on the southwesterlies yesterday than there were people in the backcountry.  Temperatures soared into the 40’s and 50’s in the mountains and even this morning’s first trace of precipitation is coming down as light rain below about 9500’.  The highest, most exposed anemometers have wind speeds from the south at 25-35mph, but they should drop off as they veer westerly and then a bit northwesterly with frontal passage.  Most areas will have a poor to non-existent refreeze this morning, soon to be buried under 3-5” of new.

Avalanche Conditions:
While far from widespread, a few new natural wet slabs pulled out yesterday, the most notable reported off the sunny side of the Park City ridgeline above Bonanza Flats at about 9800’.  The observer reported it to be a couple hundred yards wide and a few feet deep, stepping to the ground in some areas.  Other wet slabs pulled out on the lower roll-overs in the Meadow chutes on northeast facing terrain at 9000’.  These were 8-10” deep and about 75-100’ wide.  And with most things in life, timing is everything.  The slopes will be supportable only until they’re not.  At 6pm(!), a skier coming down near East Hellgate triggered a wet sluff, lost his footing, and rode it 350’, rocketing over at least one minor cliffband.  Fortunately, he only suffered a few bumps and bruises with the experiential education. 

Springtime avalanches can be a complicated mess.  It just depends on the weather.  One day it’ll storm and we’ll see sensitive wind drifts on lee slopes.  The next couple of days, wet slabs and point releases on the sunny slopes.  Remember that on the whole, avalanches run either because of an increase in stress or a decrease in strength.  Stress due to heavy snowfall and/or transportable winds and loss of strength due to free water within the snowpack.  So with only a few inches expected today, ‘dry snow’ avalanche activity is expected to be minor in scope, so initially our problems will revolve around the poor refreeze at the mid and lower elevations on all aspects where I’d expect that you could get some wet snow to move even this morning. 

Bottom Line (Salt Lake and Park City, Ogden and Provo mountains):
There is a MODERATE danger of wet activity at the mid and low elevations and human triggered avalanches can be expected.  Watch for a rising danger if we pick up more than about 6” of snow during the day. 

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

Mountain Weather:
(You can find the afternoon Weather Update here.)
The first of two storms for the weekend is on our doorstep.  The ski areas are reporting a trace to an inch at the higher elevations and we should see snow for most of the day.  8000’ highs will be in the mid-30’s with 10,000’ temps dropping to the mid-twenties by late afternoon.  A second stronger storm should move through overnight, though most of the energy will push south.  Northern mountains could see totals of up to a foot or so by early Sunday. 

Wasatch Powderbird guides didn’t fly yesterday and won’t get out today.


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.

Evelyn Lees will update this advisory by 7:30 on Saturday morning.

Thanks for calling.