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.



Saturday, March 18, 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 Saturday, March 18, 2006, and it’s about 7:30 am. 


Current Conditions:

Winter continues.  The mountains received another shot of light density snow early last night putting down about 6 inches in the Ogden, Salt Lake and Provo mountains.  Another band of precipitation was affecting the Provo mountains and the southern end of the Salt Lake mountains over the last few hours but is tapering off now.  Yesterday and last night as well, ridgetop winds were blustery from the south in the 15 to 20 mph range with gusts into the 30s.  Ridgetop temperatures on Friday made it into the upper 20s and are currently in the low 20s.


Recent Avalanche Activity & Snowpack Discussion:

Avalanche activity from Friday included small and manageable fresh wind slabs from slope cuts.  This was a fairly widespread theme from observers yesterday.  Most slides were under 40 feet wide and 4-8 inches deep with a couple up to a foot deep.  These were mainly confined to the upper ridgelines.  Lower elevations also had some natural wet activity.  Observers noted that some steep chutes and terrain traps had spooged out late in the day.


For today, yet again our main concern will be wind drifted snow that may crack out under the weight of a person.  The moderate wind speeds coupled with last nights snow may have formed some drifts again along the ridges.  Also, yesterday’s drifts are less then 24 hours old so it may be possible to still trigger one of these under the fresh snow making a deeper avalanche.  You will find these wind slabs mainly along the ridges on northwest through east facing slopes.


With warmer daytime temperatures this time of the season we always need to watch for damp and wet activity especially at lower elevations.  Also today, upper elevation southerly slopes must be watched if there are any periods of clearing during the day that may rapidly heat the snow. Any new snow that we receive this time of the season is very sensitive to warming especially the first time it becomes damp. 


Bottom Line:

A MODERATE danger exists on slopes steeper then 35 degrees with recent deposits of wind drifted snow.  The danger of wet avalanche activity will also rise to MODERATE as temperatures warm up during the day.

Mountain Weather:

Wind speeds have dramatically decreased over the last few hours and should stay in the 5 to 15 mph range from the south for most of the day today.  Ridgetop temperatures will again be in the mid 20s and we could see snow showers during the day today along with mostly cloudy skies.  Snow should start to fall more consistently tonight and continue through most of Sunday.  This system is looking somewhat better then it was yesterday and it now looks like we could see 10 to 14 inches of snow be Sunday evening.  Lower elevations and the valleys should get a good shot of snow out of this system as well.  Another storm is still shaping up for mid week.


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.

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 were grounded due to weather yesterday and today, weather permitting, they’ll be in Cardiff, 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.

Drew Hardesty will update this advisory by 7:30 Sunday morning.  Thanks for calling.