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.



Friday, December 16, 2005  7:30am
Good morning, this is Bruce Tremper with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is Friday, December 16, 2005, and it’s about 7:30 am.

The beacon locator park at Snowbird is now open and free to the public.  It’s sponsored by Wasatch Backcountry Rescue and Snowbird and located just off the bypass road in upper Little Cottonwood Canyon.

Our apologies to those who showed up for the avalanche class we advertised for last Wednesday night at High Mountain Motor Sports.  Apparently there was a miscommunication on the date and the shop could not change their plans on short notice, so they cancelled the class.  Hopefully, we can re-schedule.

Current Conditions:   
Temperatures have warmed from zero degrees a couple days ago to a balmy 10 degrees on the ridge tops this morning with a 10 mph wind from the northwest.  Backcountry riding conditions remain very good on about 6 inches of soft, recrystallized snow on the northerly, wind-sheltered slopes.  But many of the above-tree line slopes have wind damage and the south facing slopes have a sun crust. 

Avalanche Conditions:
A skier triggered a small avalanche yesterday in Toledo Chute, which is a very steep, southeast facing slope around 10,000’ across the road from Alta.  Their ski cut produced a shallow 2-6 inch deep wind slab that broke out about 75 feet wide and ran 100 feet.  So, a few wind slabs still linger especially on the steep, shallow, rocky, and wind exposed terrain.  Also, from a distance, someone noticed a couple fresh fractures in Alexander Basin, which is in Mill Creek, about 9,000’ in elevation on steep, east facing slopes.  We don’t have any other information on these so if you know anything, let us know.

Despite these localized instabilities, the overall avalanche danger remains low.  It has been several days since we had strong winds and the cold temperatures and clear skies continue to rot out the snow surface into very weak, faceted snow that runs through your fingers like salt crystals.  In the thin snowpack areas, the entire snowpack is rapidly turning into weak, depth hoar.  But to make an avalanche, you need a slab on top of the weak layer.  Right now—with the exception of some of the lingering wind drifts—we’re missing the slab.  If significant new snow or wind creates a slab on top of this weak snow, it will certainly produce some very dangerous avalanche conditions.  But in until then, the snow seems content to sit quietly and the weather seems content to not give us a slab.

Bottom Line:
For today most slopes have a LOW danger with isolated pockets of  MODERATE danger on upper elevation, steep slopes with lingering wind drifts.

Mountain Weather: 
Today, we have a few clouds coming in from the north and they could produce some scattered, light snow showers.  Ridge top temperatures should remain 10-15 degrees with ridge top winds around 10 mph from the northwest.  Down at 8,000’ temperatures should rise to the mid 20’s.  Temperatures should remain cool on Saturday, but then we have warmer air from the west pushing in for Sunday and Monday, which will raise the ridge top temperatures into the mid 20’s.  Right now, we don’t see any significant snow in the forecast, but we should start to get more weak disturbances from the west starting Sunday.


Regional Snow Profile (this profile can also be found daily off our home page under avalanche products)

Seasonal Weather History Charts.

Wasatch Powderbird Guides will be in Mineral Fork, Cardiff Fork, Silver Fork, Days Fork and Grizzly Gulch.

We appreciate any backcountry snow and avalanche conditions you observe.  Call (801) 524-5304 or 1-800-662-4140, email [email protected] or fax 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.)

UDOT also has a highway avalanche control work hotline for Little Cottonwood road, which is updated as needed. 801-975-4838.

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

Evelyn Lees will update this advisory by 7:30 Saturday morning.  Thanks for calling.