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 17, 2006  7:30 am
Good morning, this is Brett Kobernik with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is Friday, March 17, 2006, and it’s about 7:30 am. 


Current Conditions:

Ridgetop winds picked up from the south Thursday afternoon blowing in the 20 mph range with gusts into the 30s.  They appear to be slowing somewhat now with ridgetop temperatures in the low 20s.  Under mostly cloudy skies, snow showers are occurring in the mountains with accumulations of 1 to 2 inches.  The snow surface is a mix of settled powder, sun crusts, wind crusts and wind drifts depending on elevation and aspect.


Recent Avalanche Activity & Snowpack Discussion:

No new avalanche activity was reported from Thursday so let’s take a look back at the significant weather events that shaped this week’s snowpack.  Last weekend we received a shot of light density snow that then got whipped into drifts on Tuesday from a period of strong southerly winds.  This produced a small natural avalanche cycle.  Wednesday the mountains received another shot of snow especially the Cottonwoods where 14 to 20 inches of snow fell in a very short period of time which produced another natural avalanche cycle.  By Thursday, the new snow had settled and the wind drifts from Tuesday were staying in place. Temperatures warmed Thursday making the lower elevation snow become damp but left the upper elevations with cold loose snow that was starting to drift as the winds picked up in the afternoon which brings us up to now. 


For today we will want to watch for any fresh drifts that formed late Thursday and last night.  You will mainly find these along the upper elevation ridgelines on northerly facing slopes.  Today we will also want to watch for damp and wet activity at the lower elevations.  Avoid steep lower elevation slopes and terrain traps as the snow becomes moist throughout the day. Cloud cover today should keep a lid on solar heating on high elevation southerly facing slopes but if it does break you will need to watch for activity here as well. 


Bottom Line:

This morning most areas have a LOW avalanche danger.  However, the avalanche danger is MODERATE on upper elevation northwest through northeast facing slopes steeper than 35 degrees with recent deposits of wind drifted snow.  The danger will also increase to MODERATE at lower elevations as the snow becomes damp from daytime heating.  You will need to watch high elevation southerly slopes if we see some clearing this afternoon as well.

Mountain Weather:

A low pressure trof will affect Utah through the weekend bringing mostly cloudy skies with periods of snow.  Today ridgetop temperatures will be in the low to mid 20s with ridgetop winds from the southwest in the 10 to 15 mph range.  A few more inches of snow accumulation is possible this morning.  We may see a period of clearing this afternoon.  Winds pick up slightly late this afternoon and tonight and taper off again Saturday morning. 



A completed report on the Taylor Canyon accident near Snowbasin will be updated by late this morning and 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 in the western Uinta Mountains on the Wolf Creek Pass road.  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 flew in Days, Silver, Grizzly and American Fork on Thursday and today weather permitting they’ll be in Cardiff, Mineral, Days, Silver, 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’ll update this advisory by 7:30 Saturday morning.  Thanks for calling.