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.



Thursday, March 16, 2006  7:30 am
Good morning, this is Bruce Tremper with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is Thursday, March 16, 2006, and it’s about 7:30 am. 


Current Conditions:



UDOT will conduct avalanche control in Stairs Gulch in Big Cottonwood Canyon this morning at 8:00 am but the road should open up quickly afterward.


Yesterday morning’s cold front blasted through with snowfall rates of several inches per hour.  It quickly laid down a foot to a half of snow in the north part of Salt Lake City, and the Cottonwood Canyons with about 4 inches in the Provo and Ogden area mountains.  With many of the roads closed in the morning and trail breaking difficult, many of the popular slopes did not see any traffic even after the skies cleared in the afternoon.  Riding conditions remain excellent on the sun-sheltered slopes but the sun exposed slopes got a thin sun crust on them yesterday.


Recent Avalanche Activity & Snowpack Discussion:

Not surprisingly, yesterday morning’s intense snowfall and wind produced a widespread cycle of sluffs and occasional soft slab avalanches within the new snow on most steep slopes. (PHOTOS) I was happy to see that they were not breaking deeper beneath the stiff wind slabs created by Tuesday’s very strong wind and I hope that trend will continue today.  I expect that most of the instabilities within the new snow will have settled out overnight.  Still, I’m suspicious about all the recent wind and snow and I’m sure there are a few pockets that you can pop out, especially on the upper elevation, wind exposed, steep slopes.  If they do break beneath Tuesday’s wind slabs, they will be big avalanches—around 2-3 feet deep and they will likely break above you.  So be sure to practice all your safe travel ritual like one-at-a-time and practice good slope cut techniques.

Also, the ridge top winds should blow from the southwest today around 10-15 mph with higher gusts and they will create some localized, fresh wind drifts along the wind exposed ridges.  As always, you should avoid any steep slope with recent wind drifts.

Finally, if we get sun today, we will have more damp to wet sluffs on the steep southerly-facing slopes.


Bottom Line:

The avalanche danger is MODERATE on all slopes steeper than 35 degrees with pockets of CONSIDERABLE on the more extreme, upper elevation terrain. 

Mountain Weather:

Today should be a rest day with high clouds and ridge top winds from the southwest 10-15 mph and ridge top temperatures around 19 degrees.  Down at 8,000’ the temperatures should rise to the mid 20’s.  For the next several days, we have a large trough diving mostly south of us, which should wrap the moisture around it and bring our flow up from the south with clouds and occasional snow showers starting on Friday and continuing through about Wednesday.



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

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.

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 at the Nobletts parking area on the Mirror Lake highway.  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 will be in Mineral, Cardiff, Days, Silver, Grizzly, American Fork and White Pine.  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 Friday morning.  Thanks for calling.