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 10, 2006  7:30am
Good morning, this is Bruce Tremper with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is Friday, March 10, 2006, and it’s about 7:30 am.

Current Conditions:
UDOT will do control in Little Cottonwood Canyon at 6:00 am and Provo Canyon this morning at 7:00 am but the road should open quickly after that.

Yesterday was a very wild and very fun day for avalanche geeks.  The intense cold front blasted through in the mid morning, which put down 6-or-more inches of snow in an hour or two with strong, gusty wind.  It was very light, 5% water-weight snow, which adds up to storm totals of 20-30 inches in the Salt Lake area mountains and 1-1.5 feet elsewhere.  The snow is very light. Temperatures are cold—in the single digits.  Skies should be clear to partly cloudy.  Yes, the call-in-sick-to-work meter is nearly pegged out this morning.  Wind and sun-sheltered slopes will be the hot ticket today.


Recent Avalanche Activity & Snowpack Discussion:

The most basic avalanche-truth is that snow is just like people, it doesn’t like rapid change.  And sure enough, the extremely rapid loading rates from new snow and wind-deposited snow made the snow very cranky and spontaneous riots broke out everywhere.  It produced widespread natural and human triggered avalanches on almost all steep slopes above about 9,000’.  Fortunately, the slabs were so soft that they posed little hazard unless you were in terrain with bad consequences.  Most avalanche geeks had a very fun day with extremely hair-trigger avalanches that broke at your feet and seldom above you.  (PHOTOS) Two most notable human triggered slides:  One party triggered a sizable sluff on the steep, south facing slope of Little Superior and it came within 500 feet of the road. (We should remind people, you are responsible for the safety of others below you, especially above a road.)  The second avalanche of note: a couple skiers triggered a soft slab on the south face of Reynolds Peak in Big Cottonwood Canyon, 1-2’ deep, 150’ wide and it ran 800 vertical feet.


Avalanche problem #1 – Wind slabs

Most of the instability within the new snow probably settled out overnight so there will probably be just pockets of lingering wind slab hazard today, mostly along the wind exposed ridges from the strong northwest wind yesterday.  On many of these wind-exposed ridges, the wind slabs are stiff enough to break above you.  Clues include smooth, rounded snow that feels slabby and often cracks under your weight.  So be sure to practice good slope cut techniques and avoid terrain with bad consequences.


Avalanche problem #1 – Wet slides
The second avalanche problem today will be damp avalanches on steep sun-exposed slopes as the strong March sun quickly heats up the cold, dry snow.  For instance, today is not a good day to be on the south face of Superior Peak.


Bottom Line:

The avalanche danger is MODERATE today on slopes steeper than 35 degrees, with recent deposits of wind drifted snow.  There is also a MODERATE danger of damp to wet avalanches on steep, sun-exposed slopes as the strong sun quickly warms up a cold, dry snowpack.


Mountain Weather:

Today the big, cold low pressure is rotating around us, leaving us stranded in the doldrums in the middle.  Ridge top winds will be very light and variable with ridge top temperatures in the single digits and temperatures down at 8,000’ will be in the 20’s.  Skies should be clear to partly cloudy with afternoon clouds boiling up as the sun heats things up.  Saturday looks like another calm, cold, partly cloudy day.  We may get a couple more weak shots of snow on Monday and Tuesday.


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, one in the northwest corner of the lower lot at Solitude, and one at Nobletts Trail head in the western Uintas.  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 did not fly yesterday and today they will fly in Mineral, 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.

Brett Kobernik will update this advisory by 7:30 Saturday morning.  Thanks for calling.