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.



Sunday, December 04, 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 Sunday, December 04, 2005, and it’s about 7:30 am.

Up coming avalanche awareness talks by the UAC staff include:
Dec 6    7 pm       Full Throttle Power Sports  240 N Frontage Rd, Centerville
Dec 6    7 pm       Black Diamond Retail  2092 E 3900 S, SLC
Dec 7    7 pm       Lady of the Snows, Alta
Dec 13  7 pm        REI, 3285 E, 3300 S, SLC
Dec 14  6:60 pm  Mnt High Motorsports, 8262 S Redwood Rd, West Jordan
Dec 14  7 pm        South Valley Unitarian, 6876 S Highland Dr. 

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:   
Blizzard conditions rage in the central Wasatch high country this morning with heavy snowfall and blustery winds.  Overnight, the mountains from Ogden to Salt Lake picked up another 8-12”, pushing storm totals to about 2-3’.  Densities are in the 6-8% range despite periodic graupling.  The west to northwest winds along the ridgelines intensified this morning to 35-45mph with gusts to the 60’s but this should ease off late morning as the disturbance moves through.  Temperatures plummeted to the single digits and below zero above 11,000’. 

Avalanche Conditions:
For backcountry travelers that make it into the high country, human triggered slides in the new snow will be likely on all steep drifted slopes, with a very distinct possibility of some stepping down into the older, weaker snow layers.  Mostly confined to mid and upper elevation northwest through north through east facing slopes, these larger slides may be greater than 3-6’ deep and more than a few hundred feet wide.  These larger slides may be even more pronounced in the outlying areas, such as the Park City ridgeline, Mill Creek, and the Provo area mountains.  Folks without good avalanche and route finding skills will want to avoid being on or underneath slopes steeper than about 35 degrees.

Headlining the avalanche news from yesterday was a skier released slide in No-Name bowl off the Park City ridgeline, a north to northeast facing slope at about 9800’.  Details are still filtering in, but it appears that with eleven tracks already on the slope, a skier released the entire bowl 3-5’ deep and possibly 600’ wide.  The slide not only engulfed the skier, but his three partners waiting for him below.  All were partially buried, with one near-complete burial, but everyone came out miraculously unscathed.   Avalanche control work in the Cottonwoods are seeing avalanches up to 7’ deep while explosive work at one of the Park City areas continue to pull out slides to the ground in uncompacted terrain. 

Bottom Line:
The avalanche danger is CONSIDERABLE with human triggered avalanches likely on steep drifted slopes, with the real potential for them to step down into older faceted snow.  Naturals may be possible in upper elevation areas that received the most snow and wind. Avalanches may be triggered at a distance, and as evidenced by yesterday’s close call, tracks are not necessarily a sign of stability with the current snowpack. 

Mountain Weather: 
A moist and unstable northwest flow will remain over the area through the rest of the day.  Another 4 to 8 inches of low density fluff can be expected in areas favored by northwest flow.  The storm moves off to the east later tonight with gradual warming tonight and tomorrow.  Ridgetop winds will be 20-25mph from the northwest.  8000’ highs will be in the low teens with 10,000’ temps in the low single digits.  A weak unsettled northwest flow drives the weather pattern for the week.   


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)

I will update this advisory Monday morning.  Thanks for calling.