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 31, 2005  7:30am
Good morning, this is Brett Kobernik with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is Saturday, December 31, 2005, and it’s about 7:30 am.

Check out our new graphical advisory format.  You can update your bookmarks to this link:

UDOT closed Little Cottonwood Canyon for avalanche control work at 6 am.  Call
801-975-4838 for further information.


Current Conditions:

The warm front cooperated with yesterdays forecast nicely this time bringing around 10” or better of new snow that contained 1 to 1 ½ inches of water throughout the range.  The snow was slightly inverted by late in the day.  Temperatures have been on the rise and are currently around 30 degrees at 9,000’.  The forecasted winds also verified and have been blowing along the ridges in the 20 to 30 mph range from the southwest.  Along the highest elevations the winds are in the 30 to 40 mph range with gusts into the 60s with the highest gust recorded at 76 mph.


Avalanche Conditions:

It’s going to be a warm, wet, windy mess up in the mountains today with an increasing avalanche danger. 


Yesterday, some natural avalanche activity in the form of sluffing and shallow soft slabs was a common theme from backcountry observers.  This was during and intense period of snowfall in the afternoon.  A few people also found a fresh wind slab or two that would pull out from ski cuts up to 18” deep.  None of these produced significant avalanches.  The natural activity from yesterday may have settled out by now but this is unconfirmed at this point.  There are also a few weaknesses in the upper portion of the snowpack especially above 9,000’ not to mention varied crusts at all elevations which could make for a good sliding surface.  Add more snowfall today and tonight along with continued strong winds and I think you might get the picture.  There’s also a possibility of wet activity at the lower elevations.  Do you need any more indicators to tell you to pay attention and be careful out there today?  How about deeper buried weak layers in shallow snowpack areas that may become overloaded before it’s all said and done?


Bottom Line:

The avalanche danger is CONSIDERABLE especially in the upper elevation terrain where you will find fresh drifts of wind blown snow.  The danger will be on the rise today and into Sunday.  It is no time to be screwing around in the backcountry if you don’t have the proper skills.


Mountain Weather:

Warm and windy conditions will continue today with a period of steady snow this morning turning showery this afternoon.  Temperatures at 10,000’ are going to be near freezing.  The rain/snow line will be up around 8,500’.  Ridgetop winds will be in the 30 mph range from the southwest and increasing during the day.  3 to 6” of wet heavy snow is possible during the day.


The cold front will arrive late this evening with winds shifting to the northwest.  An additional 12” or better would not be out of the question.  At least another inch of water weight will be added to the snowpack by Sunday bring totals to well over 2 inches of water.  Things calm down for Sunday afternoon but the storm for Monday is still looking very impressive.


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

Click here for Seasonal Weather History Charts.

Yesterday, Wasatch Powderbird Guides did not fly and will be grounded again today. For more info, call 742-2800.

Please report 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.

Drew Hardesty will update this advisory by 7:30 Sunday morning.  Thanks for calling.