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.



Wednesday, February 22, 2006  7:30am
Good morning, this is Evelyn Lees with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is Wednesday, February 22, 2006, and it’s about 7:30 am.


We will be giving a free Avalanche Awareness talk at the Sandy REI Thursday night at 7pm. 


Tonight is the last night to catch the Banff Mountain Film Festival at Kingsbury Hall.  A long time fundraiser for the Friends of the Utah Avalanche Center, you can get tickets at Kingsbury Hall, Art-Tix, the Outdoor Rec Program at the U and REI.  For more info, call 581-8516.


Current Conditions:

A moist, northwest flow has brought mostly cloudy skies and a dusting of snow to the mountains.  Temperatures have warmed, and are in the teens below 9,000’ and the single digits at the higher elevations.  Unfortunately, the northwesterly winds have notched it up again along the ridgelines, with many stations reporting 15 to 20 mph averages, with gusts in the 30’s.  The most exposed locations have averages in the 40’s, with gusts in the 50’s.  The best riding conditions will be on wind sheltered, northerly facing slopes in wonderful powder.


Avalanche Conditions:

Yesterday’s moderate winds were already stirring up trouble in the Ogden and Provo area mountains.  Several natural and one human triggered soft slab were reported. (Click here for photos and snow profile.)  These were up to a foot deep, with one about a 150’ wide and running over 1000’ in steep terrain.  In the less windy Salt Lake and Park City mountains, loose sluffs continued to be the reported activity, running up to 500’.  They were getting a bit too big to muscle your way out of, piling up 2 to 3’ of debris even without a terrain trap. 


Out of the soft slab/loose sluff pattern, there was a disquieting reminder of a potential problem to come.  A significant hard slab was triggered by a natural cornice fall along a ridgeline in the Ogden area mountains.  It was one finger hard slab, 3’ deep by 400’ wide.


Winds will continue to work their mischief today, blowing the snow into sensitive soft to medium hard wind drifts.  This morning, the stronger winds are affecting the Salt Lake mountains, so the drifts will be more widespread in this area.  The wind drifts will be most common along the ridge lines, but they will also form down in some open bowls and around sub ridges and gully walls.  These sensitive soft slabs will release easily with slope cuts, as will fresh cornices.  And while they will take a big trigger, it seems some of those old hard wind slabs might be coming back to haunt us, and if you trigger one, the slide will be significantly deeper and wider.   



Bottom Line:

Today, the avalanche danger is MODERATE on slopes steeper than 35 degrees with recent drifts of wind blown snow.  In the highest, windiest terrain, there are pockets of CONSIDERABLE avalanche danger, with natural avalanches and cornice falls possible.   Out of the wind affected terrain, the avalanche danger is mostly LOW, but long running sluffs are large enough to take you for a ride in the steepest terrain.  


Mountain Weather:

A northwest flow over the region will bring mostly cloudy skies and light snow showers to the mountains today through Thursday.  The northwesterly winds will be persistent today, remaining in the 15 to 25 mph range across most ridgelines, with locally stronger speeds.  Temperatures will warm into the mid 20’s at 8,000’ and the mid teens at 10,000’.  Peeking into the future, high pressure should move in for a sunny weekend, with a storm on tap for early next week.



Click here to check out our new online avalanche encyclopedia.


Early birds and snow geeks can catch our 6AM report at 364-1591.

Click HERE for a text only version of the avalanche advisory.

To have this advisory automatically e-mailed to you each day, click HERE. 

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

Yesterday, Wasatch Powderbirds flew in Cardiff, Mineral, Grizzly, Toledo SE and the Bountiful Sessions, and if they can fly today, they will be in White Pine, Cardiff, Days, Sliver, Grizzly, American Fork and the Sessions.  For more info, call 742-2800.

Please report any backcountry snow and avalanche conditions.  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.

Bruce Tremper will update this advisory by 7:30 Thursday morning.  Thanks for calling.