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.



Tuesday, February 28, 20067:30am
Good morning, this is Brett Kobernik with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.Today is Tuesday, February 28, 2006, and itís about 7:30 am.


There are several free automated avalanche beacon practice areas open, including one at Canyons, one on the by-pass road near Snowbird and one in the northwest corner of the lower lot at Solitude.They are really easy to use, and well worth stopping for a quick practice session.


Current Conditions:

Warm temperatures and VERY windy conditions headline the news from Monday.Mountain temperatures are above freezing at all but the highest locations.The wind event from over the last 48 hours may be the most notable of the season.Gusts into the 70s & 80s at the highest locations might not grab your attention but speeds near 50 on Tomís Hill should. Tomís is at an elevation of 8,500í in Big Cottonwood.Gusts into the 30s have also been recorded at the town of Alta.The wind direction is generally from the southwest.The snow surface is mostly wind scoured at higher elevations with warm grabby snow at lower elevations.No wonder I only received one observation from the backcountry yesterday and itís even questionable if this person was actually skiing.


Avalanche Conditions:

He reported an avalanche (Photo 1, Photo 2) that was triggered by some skiers who illegally left the Sundance ski area and went up to ski the Finger Chutes above the resort.After the first skier had skied the slope, the second skier triggered a wind slab but was not caught.It ran about 1000 feet vertical distance.These folks were lucky to avoid a nasty ride and also law enforcement down below.(Slide details)


As far as current snowpack conditions, warm temperatures and strong winds helped change most of our loose snow on the surface from surface hoar and near surface facets to a more friendly snow grain that wonít be as weak when we add snow on top of it.However, many crusts have formed so weíll need to pay attention to the initial bonding of the new snow we are expecting to receive today and tonight.Also, the strong winds have formed some spotty hard and soft wind drifts that may be sensitive to the weight of a person and especially to the weight of a snowmobile.The winds will continue for a good portion of the day and the new snow will cover up many of the obvious drifts that formed.It would be best to avoid the steeper ridgelines for a few days to allow some time for the snowpack to adjust to these new drifts.In some areas, these drifts have the potential to be very thick.


With the warm temperatures over the last few days, the lower elevation snow has become damp and manky.Itís possible to initiate wet slides on steep lower elevation terrain.With spring approaching, we need to start paying attention to terrain traps and steep convex rolls on a daily basis as the potential for slides will become more regular at lower elevations.


Bottom Line:

The avalanche danger remains MODERATE on any slope steeper than 35 degrees with recent deposits of wind drifted snow.The avalanche danger will increase today and tonight.Also, avoid steep areas where the snow is damp and mucky.


Mountain Weather:

Temperatures should start to cool soon and continue downward throughout the day finally getting into the mid 20s along the ridges by tonight.Winds will continue to blow in the strong range for a good portion of the day from the southwest and slow somewhat tonight but will still be in the 30 mph range from a west southwest direction.Weíll see mostly cloudy skies with some snow during the day which should pick up late this afternoon or evening.Models are showing up to an inch of water and we expect 6 to 12 inches of snow by Wednesday morning.



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.

The Wasatch Powderbird Guides were in American Fork and Cascade on Monday and probably wonít get out today but if possible theyíll be in Cardiff, Days, Silver, Grizzly, White Pine and American Fork.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.

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