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, March 03, 2006  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 Friday, March 03, 2006, and it’s about 7:30 am.

Current Conditions:

The winds picked up on Thursday blowing the newest snow into drifts and crusts (PHOTOS).  Southwest winds blew in the 20 to 30 mph range along the ridgetops as well as getting into some of the lower portions of the drainages.  Winds are now in the 15 to 20 mph range with gusts to around 30.  Temperatures didn’t get warm enough yesterday to produce any significant avalanche activity but were quite warm getting up around freezing at 10,000’ and staying above freezing overnight below about 8000’.  Most locations are in the upper 20s to low 30s this morning.


Recent Avalanche Activity & Snowpack Discussion:

The only significant avalanche activity from Thursday was a large cornice fall triggered from some skiers in the Wolverine Cirque.  It reportedly snapped a few small trees in its way down the slope but did not produce any avalanching once it impacted the lower portion of the slope.  I have noticed many cornices becoming quite large with a few breaking off naturally over the last week.  Approach these with caution.


Avalanche Problem #1 -  Wind Slabs

Today, we again need to watch for wind slabs, both old and new.  It would not be surprising to find a drift that could avalanche today.  Some locations had a southeasterly component to the wind so you may find fresh drifts on some northwest facing slopes which may not usually have drifts form on them.  Winds did transport snow down lower in the drainages but the main place you will find any avalanching will be in higher terrain due to more snow available for transport.  Northeast through northwest facing slopes are the most suspect but remember that mountainous terrain can channel winds into many directions so pay attention to any drifting on all aspects.  Wind crusts and the rain crusts vary widely from place to place so continue to dig quick hand pits and use your ski poles to help you inventory variations in the snow.

Avalanche Problem #2 – Wet Avalanches
The winds will probably keep temperatures in check on southerly slopes at the higher elevations but with a clear sky for most of the day today, watch for the snow to become damp on these slopes.  More importantly, with warmer temperatures over the last 24 hrs at the lower elevations, things may loosen up more rapidly in lower terrain.  If you find yourself punching through the entire snowpack into damp snow, be sure to avoid any steep slopes and terrain traps.


Bottom Line:

The avalanche danger is MODERATE on slopes steeper then 35 degrees with recent deposits of wind drifted snow.  At lower elevations out of the wind the avalanche danger will start out LOW but may increase to MODERATE if temperatures warm and loosen the snow enough.  


Mountain Weather:

We’ll see mostly clear skies for most of the day today with windy conditions from the southwest picking up as the day goes on.  Ridgetop temperatures will be in the upper 20s and gradually cool off this afternoon.  A storm will affect the mountains tonight into Saturday with the chance of 3 to 7 inches of snow.  Winds speeds will remain in the 20 to 30 mph range from the southwest for most of this event.  Temperatures cool into the teens by Saturday morning with clearing, then warming temperatures on Sunday.



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 were in White Pine, Cardiff, Days and the Sessions yesterday and today will be in Mineral, Cardiff, Days, Silver, Grizzly, Millcreek, White Pine, American Fork and Cascade.  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 Saturday morning.  Thanks for calling.