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.



Wednesday, March 22, 2006  7:30 am
Good morning, this is Evelyn Lees with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is Wednesday, March 22, 2006, and it’s about 7:30 am. 


Current Conditions:

All good things must come to an end, and the high pressure ridge moving into the Great Basin today will finish the seemingly endless string of powder days.  Skies are partly cloudy this morning, winds are light from the north, and temperatures are in the teens to low 20’s. 

Monday night’s 6 to 14 inches of snow added a final layer to the almost bottomless powder on shady, northerly facing slopes above about 9,000’.  On all other aspects and at lower elevations, you’ll be feeling the old crust beneath, and even bump into a few new crusts from yesterday’s sun.  With mixed spring snow conditions, don’t forget the skin wax and scrapper.


Recent Avalanche Activity & Snowpack Discussion:

Yesterday’s avalanche activity followed the recent pattern: a brief natural cycle of new snow loose sluffs and shallow soft slabs during the snowfall, followed by a period of easily human triggered sluffs and shallow soft slabs, with the snow rapidly stabilizing as the day went on. (photos and info)  As usual, the longest running, most serious slides were in the Provo area mountains, due to the continuously steep terrain.  A few slides from control work in the Ogden mountains Monday broke out deeper, taking out two storms worth of snow.  If you head to the steep, shady slopes today, there are still a few isolated places where you could trigger a sluff or shallow slab, especially along the highest ridges or any where the wind drifts the snow. 


The main avalanche problem today will be wet loose sluffs triggered by heating from direct sun.  If the skies clear as forecast, I expect the sun to rapidly heat the snow, and an active day of both human triggered and natural sluffs is possible on steep sunny slopes.  Once the damp snow gets moving, it has the potential to run fast and far on a crust bed surface, and entrain snow for significant debris piles.  The sluffs may also step down beneath the crust, for a slightly deeper, wider slab avalanche.


Bottom Line:

On steep, sunny, east through south through westerly facing slopes, the avalanche danger will rapidly rise to MODERATE with sun and day time heating.  If we get enough direct sun, the danger may even rise to CONSIDERABLE in the Provo area mountains and other similarly steep terrain.  Long running, natural wet loose sluffs could occur, so avoid travel on and below steep sunny slopes as the snow heats up.  On steep, northerly facing slopes, there are still a few places where a person could trigger a sluff or shallow slab avalanche.


Mountain Weather:

The high pressure ridge building into the Great Basin will remain over the area through early Saturday.  This morning’s clouds should steadily decrease throughout the day, with temperatures reaching near 40 at 8,000’ and upper teens at 10,000’.  The northerly winds will remain light, with gusts above 15 mph only at the highest elevations.  Lots of sunshine and a steady warming trend through Friday, with the next chance for snow Saturday night.


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 flew in Silver Fork yesterday, and today they will be in American Fork, Cascade, White Pine, Cardiff, Days, Silver, Mineral and Grizzly Gulch.  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 Thursday morning.  Thanks for calling.