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, March 04, 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 Saturday, March 04, 2006, and it’s about 7:30 am.

Current Conditions:

The quick hitting cold front is rapidly moving east of the area this morning, leaving about 4 to 8” of surprisingly light, 6% density snow in its wake.  Temperatures have dropped into the low teens at 10,000’.  The strong southeasterly winds that scoured the range yesterday have shifted to the west and decreased to less than 20 mph, except for a few higher peaks where hourly averages are still over 30 mph.


Almost all slopes will have that dust on crust feel, with only the upper elevation northerly facing slopes having any old soft snow beneath the new.  The lower angle slopes may have the best turning, as you will feel the old crusts less.


Recent Avalanche Activity & Snowpack Discussion:

The strong winds over the past few days sandblasted most slopes down to hard, icy sun and rain crusts, that are especially bullet proof below about 9,500’.  The new snow will bond poorly to these crusts and to easily sluff, especially where the winds have drifted the new snow.  Early morning reports from resort cat drivers include natural sluffs running on steep, upper elevation wind drifted slopes.  With the crusts as bed surfaces, any slide or sluff you do get going today will run further and faster than normal, entraining a bit of extra snow for a larger debris pile.   And it may still be possible to find and trigger an old hard wind drift up high.


An additional problem today will be the potential for a “slide for life” on steep slopes.  If you do slip, get knocked off your feet or caught in a sluff, the slick underlying crusts will make it very hard to dig in and stop your ride.  


Bottom Line:

The avalanche danger is MODERATE on slopes steeper then 35 degrees in areas that received more than about 6” of new snow, or on steep slopes with recent deposits of wind drifted snow.  Off of the steeper terrain, the avalanche danger is generally LOW.


Mountain Weather:

The cold front is rapidly moving east of the area this morning.  A few lingering snow showers should give way to mostly sunny skies later today.  The westerly winds will decrease, to less than 15 mph.  Temperatures today will be in the upper 20’s at 8,000’ and the low teens at 10,000’.  A short lived ridge of high pressure ridge will bring mostly sunny skies and warmer temperatures on Sunday, followed by another weak Pacific storm Monday night.  The weather will remain cooler and unsettled next week, with several more snow events possible near the end of next week and beyond.



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


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 to check out our new online avalanche encyclopedia.

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, and today will be in Mineral, Cardiff, Days, Silver, Grizzly, Millcreek, White Pine and the Sessions.  Weather permitting, they will have 2 helicopters operating in the Tri-Canyon area today.  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.

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