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 08, 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 08, 2006, and it’s about 7:30 am.

Current Conditions:

An additional 2 to 5” of low density powder fell over night, and storm totals in the Ogden, Salt Lake and Park City mountains add up to 10” to 20”, with the higher amounts concentrated in upper Big Cottonwood canyon.  The Provo area mountains received less, with storm totals of about 8”.  Temperatures are in the teens and low twenties this morning.  Wind information is minimal due to computer problems, but winds are from a northerly direction, and have increased in the last 6 hours.  10,000’ winds are around 10 mph, with gusts to 20, and across the highest, 11,000’ peaks, averages are near 20 mph, with gusts in the 30’s.  Turning and riding conditions will be very good in light settled powder at the higher elevations, with very thick snow below about 8,500’.


Recent Avalanche Activity & Snowpack Discussion:

Yesterday, natural avalanche activity consisted of loose sluffs and a few soft slabs on all aspects, with the largest slab about 150’ wide.  Human triggered activity mirrored the natural activity – easily triggered sluffs on slopes of about 40 degrees or steeper, and just a few soft slabs.  Most of these slides were running within the new snow, but on a few southerly facing slopes that had been recently scoured by the winds, they were running on the old slick ice crusts.   Most of these new snow instabilities were strengthening by afternoon, due to warming temperatures and a bit of sun.


Today, it will still be possible to trigger a few sluffs and soft slabs in steep terrain, so always be thinking about the consequences of the terrain you’re in.  There is the potential for two factors to increase the avalanche danger today – wind and sun.  If you’re at the higher elevations, the winds are just strong enough to blow the snow into sensitive drifts that a person could trigger on a steep slope.  The sun will cause problems today if the clouds thin or skies clear.  The surface snow will rapidly heat on steep sunny slopes, and may heat on low and mid elevation shady slopes with thin cloud cover.  Once the snow heats up, it will be easy to trigger damp sluffs.  And finally, if you’re traveling in upper elevation, northwest through easterly facing terrain, be aware there are isolated areas where slide could release on a deeper weak layer.


Bottom Line:

The avalanche danger is MODERATE today on slopes steeper than 35 degrees.  Travelers will be able to trigger loose sluffs and soft slabs, especially on any steep slope with fresh wind drifts, and on steep sunny slopes if the sun comes out.  There will be an increasing avalanche danger tonight and tomorrow due to strong winds and more snow in the forecast.


Mountain Weather:

The cold, moist northerly flow over the area will gradually shift to the southwest tonight.  For today, light snow showers this morning and this afternoon, with periods of clearing and direct sun possible at times.  Highs will be in the low 20’s at 8,000’ and the mid teens at 10,000’.  The northerly winds will generally be in the 10 to 20 mph range, with a period of stronger winds this morning across the highest peaks.  The winds will shift to the southwest tonight and become strong ahead of the cold front which ishould arrive around noon Thursday.  8 to 12” of snow is possible from this fast moving storm, and unsettled weather, with periods of snow, is expected through the weekend.



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.

Yesterday, Wasatch Powderbird Guides flew in Cardiff, Days, Lanmbs Canyon and the Bountiful sessions.  Today, weather permitting, they will be in Cardiff, Days, Silver, Mineral, 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.

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