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 29, 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 29, 2006, and it’s about 7:30 am. 


Current Conditions:

I have issued an avalanche warning for the mountains of northern, central and southwestern Utah.  Heavy snowfall, strong winds and mid elevation rain have created a Considerable to High avalanche danger.  At the higher elevations, above about 9,000’, 24 hour snow totals are now 12 to 20” in the Cottonwoods and on the Park City side, with densities averaging over 10%.  Below about 7,500’, over an inch of rain has saturated the snowpack. The Ogden mountains have received substantial rain - 1 to 1½ inches - to about 7,500’, with snow above.  Rain has changed to snow at the mid elevation sites in the Provo mountains, with about 6” of snow, with 1” of total water weight reported.   Overnight, the winds have been from a southeasterly direction, in the 15 to 20 mph range with gusts in the 30’s.  Along the highest ridgelines and peaks, average speeds are close to 30, with gusts 40 to 60.


Recent Avalanche Activity & Snowpack Discussion:

If you are heading into the backcountry today, you will need to tiptoe around a quite a variety of avalanche problems.  At the low and mid elevations, there will be wet snow avalanches, which transition to dry snow and wind drift troubles at the higher elevations. 


Above about 7,500’, the avalanche danger increases with elevation, due to higher snow amounts and more wind.   Expect easily triggered new wind drifts along ridgelines and on steep slopes.  While slopes facing the north half of the compass will have the most widespread wind drifts, watch for cross loading on a variety of slope aspects and elevations.  Drifts will be around terrain features such as sub ridges, gully walls, and breakovers.  There is a concern that slides can break into deeper weak layers that exist near the recent crusts, resulting in a deeper, wider slide. 


At the lower elevations, below about 7,500’, substantial rain has fallen on the snowpack in many locations, with the highest amounts Ogden area mountains.  Both natural and human triggered wet loose sluffs and slab avalanches are possible, with steep shady slopes facing northwest through east having the greatest danger.  Especially avoid terrain traps such as gullies, creek beds or flat benches below steep slopes, such as road cuts, where the snow from even a small slide can pile up deeply.


Bottom Line:

I have issued an avalanche warning for the mountains of northern, central and southwestern Utah.  The avalanche danger is CONSIDERABLE today on slopes steeper than about 35 degrees at all elevations, both the rain saturated mid and low elevations and the wind drifted upper elevations.  The avalanche danger may increase to HIGH on upper elevation, wind drifted slopes later today with additional snow and wind.  Careful route finding, conservative decisions, and good travel habits are mandatory today.  Stay on low angle terrain, and avoid travel in avalanche run out areas. 


Mountain Weather:

The storm system will continue to push a moist and unstable air mass through the area today.  An additional 6 to 12” of snow is likely today, with several more hours of heavy snowfall expected this morning.  There may be a short lived midday break in the precipitation, followed by more intense snowfall this afternoon as the cold upper low moves into and across the state.  Thunderstorms are possible throughout the day.  The strong, southwesterly winds will gradually shift to the west today and decrease.  Temperatures will be in the low 30’s at 8,000’ and slowly drop into the low 20’s at 10,000’.  Tonight, an additional 4 to 8” of snow is possible on a northwesterly flow, with wind speeds in the 15 to 25 mph range.  Lows will be in the mid to upper teens.  A break on Thursday, before the next storm starts to impact the area Friday afternoon.    


The Snowbasin Ski Patrol along with the Weber Country Sherriff Search and Rescue and the Utah Avalanche Center is doing a general presentation on avalanche safety and an open discussion about Forest Service Boundary policy and recent backcountry incidents.  It will be held on Wednesday, March 29 at 7pm at the Grandview Acres Clubhouse located at 3796 Quincy Avenue in Ogden.  Contact Snowbasin at 620-1000 for more info.


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 did not fly yesterday and will not fly today.  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.

Bruce Tremper will update this advisory by 7:30 Thursday morning.  Thanks for calling.