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 27, 2006  7:30 am
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 27, 2006, and it’s about 7:30 am. 


Current Conditions:

The winds that blew the gate off my fence in town Saturday night ravaged the mountains with hourly wind speeds of 35-45mph with gusts to 70.  The strong west to northwest winds persisted into late Sunday morning when they finally showed mercy and dropped to a more reasonable 15-20mph.  It snowed a few more inches during the day and storm totals are pushing 10-12” in favored locations in the Central and Northern Wasatch.  Skies are clear and mountain temperatures are in the teens up high, and about 10 degrees in the lower drainages and basins. 


Recent Avalanche Activity & Snowpack Discussion:

Plumes off the high peaks and blowing snow in the parking lots clued in even the most oblivious and distracted that it would be something of an active day in the backcountry.  You could count on the strong northwest and southwest winds loading unusual slopes while drifting snow lower into the starting zones and encatchment areas.  At the ski resorts, control teams knocked down soft and hard slab avalanches with ski cuts and explosives as the backcountry yielded a few close calls.  Three skiers took rides in separate avalanches yesterday with the most serious in the upper Lawnmower off the north side of Kessler Peak in mid-BCC.  The hard slab broke above the skier 12” by 100’ across, carrying him 300’ into some trees.  It seemed a stroke of luck to lose a ski and pole and get out of there with only a few bumps and bruises.  Two other skiers took minor rides in Days Fork, one in upper Days at about 10,000’, the other a sub-drainage or two away on a lower elevation roll-over.


Fair bonding to the old snow surfaces, a warming trend, and 16 hours of settlement should take the fight out of most, but not all, of yesterday’s wind drifts.  Clear skies, excessive warming, and light winds, on the other hand, will make today the day for wet activity.  By mid-morning, it’ll be easy to get the dampened snow surfaces to run on the steeper sun-exposed slopes.  It’ll intensify by the early afternoon and I’d expect fair debris piles under the steepest confined paths on the east through westerly facing slopes.  If you’re finding yourself up to your boot-tops or watching clinkers roll down from trees, rocks, or cliffbands, move to a cooler aspect or head to the house.  Dampening of the snow on the lower elevation shady slopes may make terrain traps hazardous as well. 


Bottom Line:

Pockets of MODERATE danger exist for cold dry wind slab on a variety of aspects at the mid and upper elevations.  Natural wet activity from daytime heating will bump the danger to CONSIDERABLE on the east through south through west aspects at all elevations.  Human triggered and natural wet sluff and slab avalanches are likely.  Avoid being on or beneath steep sun exposed slopes by late morning.   


Mountain Weather:

The bluebird will sing today with generally light southwesterly winds.  Rapid warming will push 8000’ highs into the mid-40’s with 10,000’ temps pushing 30 degrees.  Anticipate increasing southwesterly winds and cloud cover ahead of the next storm, slated to affect the Wasatch initially on a southwesterly flow tomorrow through early Thursday.


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 didn’t get out yesterday.  Today, they’ll use an earned Tri-Canyon permit day to fly in Silver, Days, Cardiff, Mineral, and Grizzly Gulch.  Another ship will be in the Cascade area of Provo.  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.

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