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.



Monday, March 13, 2006  7:30am
Good morning, this is Drew Hardesty with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is Monday, March 13, 2006, and it’s about 7:30 am. 


An initial report from the Snowbasin backcountry incident can be found here.

Current Conditions:

As of 6am, another 3-6” blankets what 4-6” we received during the day yesterday.  While the back edge of the current storm looks like it’s directly overhead, we may still pick up a few more inches into the morning.  Winds picked up this morning from the west, blowing 20-30 across the high peaks.  Mountain temperatures remain cool in the single digits and low teens.  With the riding conditions as they are, you’ll have to postpone doing those taxes for another day.  It’s been quite the spring.



Recent Avalanche Activity & Snowpack Discussion:

The 4-6” that fell yesterday seemed like it fell in the span of about 15 minutes.  During that time, the high snowfall rates produced a widespread shallow soft slab and loose snow natural cycle that gave the new snow all the bearing of a rookie clown trying to juggle 10 balls at once.  We had two close calls during the cycle.  During the peak of the snowfall intensity, two skiers were about half way up Little Pine chute, one of the steep south facing 2000’ slide paths that threaten Little Cottonwood Canyon.  It must have been something to look up and see the train coming, then be washed down 1000’ onto the apron above the road.  Fortunately, neither was injured and they retrieved most of their gear.  In terrain like that, there is almost nowhere to hide.  To the south above Aspen Grove, a skier triggered a sizeable sluff, rag-dolling 75 yards down to where the angle eased.  One of our observers triggered the only remnant wind slab from Saturday morning’s winds….a 1’ by 25’ pocket down low in the path on the Hidden canyon ridgeline, a southwest facing slope at about 9500’. 


The increasing winds will produce some natural avalanching in the new snow this morning and make avalanches probable for backcountry travelers on the steeper slopes that have been wind loaded and that have seen the most snowfall.  The character and densities of the slides will allow then to run fast and far on continuously steep slopes.  The stability looks a lot like an EKG monitor, spiking with the precipitation, and then falling back somewhat, then spiking back this morning with the snowfall and winds.  Watch for and avoid steep wind loaded areas and move out of and through runout zones quickly.


Bottom Line:

This morning the danger is CONSIDERABLE on all mid and upper elevation steep slopes with fresh wind drifts.  They will be most pronounced on northeast through southeast facing slopes, but you may find drifting in other cross-loaded and channeled areas at the upper elevations.  Natural and human triggered avalanches are probable. 


Mountain Weather:

Snowfall will continue through the morning then skies will turn mostly cloudy.  The westerly winds will blow 20-25mph along the more exposed ridgelines.  8000’ highs will reach the high teens with 10,000’ temps in the single digits.  Another storm is lined up for Tuesday night with another for 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.

The Wasatch Powderbird Guides didn’t get out yesterday and are unlikely to get out 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.

Evelyn Lees will update this advisory by 7:30 Tuesday morning.  Thanks for calling.