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.



Saturday, December 03, 2005  7:00am
Good morning, this is Evelyn Lees with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is Saturday, December 03, 2005, and it’s about 7:00 am.

The 1st annual Wasatch Winter Film Festival (a.k.a.The White Room), featuring local amateur ski & snowboard films, will be held at Prospector Square Conference Center in Park City tonight, December 3rd, from 6:00 to 10:00 p.m.  The White Room is a fundraiser for the Utah Avalanche Center and the Youth Winter Sports Alliance.  More information is available at www.freeridemagazine.com.  Advance tickets are available at www.FeedTheHabit.com

Wasatch Touring will sponsor the 1st annual Avalanche Roundtable discussion on Monday, December 5th at 7:30 pm in Memory Grove at the Memorial House.  Three avalanche survivors will tell their stories, including mountaineer Jeff Lowe, and locals Rick Hoffman and Steve Walcher.  It is free and open to the public.

Current Conditions:   
This morning, light snow is falling, and there is a chilly combination of single digit temperatures and northwesterly winds in the 15 to 20 mph range. Over the last two days, the mountains have picked up an additional 9 to 16” of snow, with 1 to 2 inches of water content.  During the storm, winds were moderate to strong from the southwest through northwesterly directions.  Turning and riding conditions are very good in creamy powder, and fast even on low and moderate angled slopes.

Avalanche Conditions:
The avalanche season is definitely here, and backcountry travelers need to use caution today.  Yesterday, numerous slides were reported, both within the new snow and deeper slides breaking on the faceted snow near the ground.  The new snow slides were on steep wind drifted slopes, and should be less sensitive today.

The slides breaking into old snow are the scarier ones.  There was a natural in the Ogden area mountains 3 to 5’ deep by 500’ wide (photo, photo), and ski area control work with explosives and ski cuts released numerous slides into old snow in the Cottonwoods and on the Park City side.  The largest were 3 to 6’ deep, and up to 350’ wide, with slides 50 to 100’ wide being more common.  There were two skier triggered slides in the Cottonwoods, one remotely and one where the person took a ride and was partially buried, but OK.  These slides were 30 to 50’ wide and 2 to 4’ deep.  The weak layer is sugary facets near the ground.  The facets are most widespread on shady slopes, northwest through easterly facing, from as low as 7,500’ to the ridge crests.    A person would be mostly likely to trigger one of these slides in shallow, rocky spot.  Also avoid terrain traps, such as traveling directly under steep slopes of mine dumps and in gullies, where the snow from even a small slide can pile up deeply enough to bury you.  Collapsing noises and cracking are signs that you are in an area with unstable snowpack layering. 

For more information, check out the Backcountry Avalanche List  and the Current Snow Profile, which I’ll update later this morning.

Bottom Line:
The avalanche danger is CONSIDERABLE on slopes steeper than about 35 degrees, facing northwest through east, above about 7,500 feet.  These slopes have weak faceted snow near the ground, and slides could be triggered by a person, especially in shallower snow pack areas.  Human triggered slides are probable on these slopes.  The avalanche danger is MODERATE on other slopes steeper than about 35 degrees, and there is a LOW danger on slopes less steep than about 30 degrees. 

Mountain Weather: 
A moist and unstable northwest flow will remain over the area through Sunday.  Lake effect snow showers could add another 5 to 6 inches of low density fluff to areas favored by northwest flow today and again tonight.  10,000’ temperatures will remain in the single digits through Sunday, and ridge top winds will be from the northwest, in the 20 to 25 mph range.



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)

Drew Hardesty will update this advisory Sunday morning.  Thanks for calling.