Wasatch Cache National Forest
In partnership with: Utah Division of State Parks and Recreation, The Friends of the Utah Avalanche Center, Utah Department of Emergency Services and Homeland Security and Salt Lake County.



Thursday, December 01, 2005  7:30am
Good morning, this is Drew Hardesty with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is Thursday, December 01, 2005, and it’s about 7:30 am.

There will be two showings of the new TGR film “Tangerine Dream” at Brewvies tonight night, December 1st, at 7 and 9 pm.  This is a fundraiser for the UAC, sponsored by our partner, The Friends of the Utah Avalanche Center.  Advance tickets are available at Black Diamond retail or www.FeedTheHabit.com.

Our staff will be giving two free avalanche awareness talks tonight.  One will be at the Sandy REI at 7 pm, the other at Hanson Mountaineering in Provo at 7pm.  Both these talks are great for all ages and all types of recreation.  For a quick glance at avalanche classes in the Salt Lake and Park City area, (Click Here).

Current Conditions:   
The current storm moving through the Wasatch should pretty well ring the bell of our snowpack over the next 24-36 hours and has all the red flags for a good avalanche cycle.  Most of the action will occur with the warm front where we’ll have rising temperatures, heavy wet snowfall, and strong southwesterly winds.  Mountain temperatures are about 15 degrees warmer than yesterday morning and are in the upper teens to mid-twenties.  The winds are 25-30mph with gusts to 50 along the highest ridgelines, and as of 5am, we’ve just seen the first couple of inches of a storm that is likely to dump two feet or more in the high country by tomorrow afternoon. 

Avalanche Conditions:
While the skier triggered avalanches in the central Wasatch were spotty and pockety at best, the Provo and Ogden area mountains provided the best storylines from yesterday.  With more snow and wind falling on top of a weaker base, the Provo mountains showed their hand with a couple natural avalanches.  The most significant natural was in terrain adjacent to and above the Sundance ski area on a north to northeast facing slope at 8800’ where a soft slab pulled out onto the pre-Thanksgiving faceted snow up to 2’ deep and 1000’ wide.  I wouldn’t characterize this event as a natural cycle so much as a portent of things to come.  In Ogden, a snow-cat triggered a 4’ deep x 200’ wide hard slab on an east northeast slope at 9100’, again failing on the weak sugar snow formed during mid-November.  

It’s clear that in the absence of a knock-out blow, the weak basal snowpack has slowly been able to adjust to added weight over the past week.  With this forecasted storm, I feel sure that the current teeter-totter holding pattern chapter will come to a close.  The danger will rapidly rise by this afternoon and overnight and we are likely to see our first major natural avalanche cycle of the year.  With increasing snowfall and strong winds, backcountry travelers should watch for avalanches to become more sensitive and widespread.  Remain alert to the collapsing of the snow on the weak basal snow, and move through suspect terrain one-at-a-time, if at all. 

Bottom Line:
The avalanche danger is MODERATE this morning and will rise to CONSIDERABLE with today’s expected snow and winds.  This danger rating most applies to freshly wind drifted slopes and northwest through north through easterly aspects at the mid and upper elevations.  As they will be favored by this type of storm, the Provo, Ogden, and Park City areas will initially have a more pronounced danger.    

Mountain Weather: 
Areas favored by a southwest flow may see up to and over 2’ of snow by tomorrow afternoon.  Rain/snow lines are expected to hover around 7500’.  Mountain temps will be in the upper twenties at 10,000’ and near freezing at 8000’.  Ridgetop winds will increase to 40-50mph out of the southwest through tomorrow morning.  A cold front follows for noon tomorrow, producing more snowfall and plunging temps again to the low teens and single digits.  The next storm moves through on Saturday.



Please report any backcountry snow and avalanche conditions you observe.  We appreciate all information.  You can call (801) 524-5304 or 1-800-662-4140, or email to [email protected] or fax to 801-524-6301.  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.

To have this advisory automatically e-mailed to you each day, click HERE.  (You must re-sign up this season even if you were on the list last season.)

The annual report for 2004-05 is now on the web. (Click HERE, 8mb)

We will update this advisory Friday morning.  Thanks for calling.