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, March 01, 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, March 01, 2006, and it’s about 7:30 am.




Current Conditions:

Yesterday’s vigorous storm tapped into tropical moisture, resulting in an all day rain event below about 8,500’.  The cold front finally arrived around 5pm, dropping the snow line to the valley floor.  Above about 9,000’, 7 to 11” of dense, graupel laden snow fell in the Cottonwoods, with a water content of 1 to 1 ¾ inches.  The lower elevations of the Provo, Ogden and Park City side received one half to just over an inch of rain, with 3 to 5” of snow above about 8,000’, and locally more at the highest elevations.  Temperatures have cooled into the teens this morning.  Yesterday’s very strong southwesterly winds shifted to the northwest in the evening, and decreased to generally less than 15 mph. 


Above about 9,000’ turning and riding conditions will be very good today, with the dense snow filling in the old tracks out of the wind scoured areas.  I would give the lower elevations a miss, due to the damp to wet snow, which may crusted in some areas.


Avalanche Conditions:

The heavy, persistent rain at the low elevations finally pushed the already warm snow pack over the edge.  Below about 8,000’ there were lots of natural wet loose sluffs yesterday, especially on north through east facing slopes. (Photo 1, Photo2, Photo 3) On the Park City side, “push-a-lanches” were starting to go to the ground in shallow snowpack areas at low elevations.  Explosive control work late in the day was able to pull out one wet slab, 100’ wide by 3’ deep, failing on wet facets on the ground, on an east facing slope at 8,000’.  While I expect the worst of the wet activity is over, it’s going to take a bit of time for the snow to cool and strengthen.  Avoid steep low and mid elevation slopes of all aspects, and especially stay off of slopes where a sluff could push you into a terrain trap such as a gully or flat road below a steep slope.  Wet loose sluffs may occur today on steep sunny slopes if the sun comes out and the new snow heats up rapidly. 


At the upper elevations, the new snow wind drifts may be sensitive today.  These drifts will be along the ridgelines, but also off the ridgelines and cross loaded around terrain features such as gully walls and mid slope breakovers due to strong winds.  There may also be a few surprises out there – a few old buried wind drifts that could still be sensitive or a slab that breaks a few inches deeper into old dry snow.  So as always after a windy storm event, approach steep terrain with caution, and test your stability theories.  Jump on test slopes, do some quick pits, place careful slope cuts, and asses each steep slope individually.


Bottom Line:

Above about 8,500’, the avalanche danger is MODERATE on slopes steeper than about 35 degrees, especially with recent deposits of wind drifted snow.  There is also a MODERATE avalanche danger for wet loose sluffs on steep slopes of all aspects below about 8,500’ and on steep sunny slopes as the day heats up.


Mountain Weather:

The departing storm may leave a few clouds in its wake, but skies should clear by afternoon in most areas.  Winds are shifting to the west, and will decrease to less than 10 mph.  Temperatures will be near freezing at 8,000’ and in the upper teens at 10,000’.  Clear and cool tonight, with lows near 20.  A quiet weather day on Thursday, with winds becoming strong again on Friday ahead of the next storm system.



Here is a great link to a web site on avalanche beacon information, created by a person who did independent research and testing of avalanche beacons.   http://beaconreviews.com/transceivers/index.htm


Click here to check out our new online avalanche encyclopedia.


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.


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 did not fly yesterday, today they’ll be in Cardiff, Days, Silver, Grizzly, White Pine, American Fork and Cascade or Bountiful 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.