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.



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


Current Conditions:

Wow, it’s been quite a few days—actually quite a month.  March is historically the snowiest month of the year and this March has been one of the snowiest in memory.  The latest storm totaled over 30 inches in the high elevations of the Cottonwood Canyons and 20 inches in most other areas.  Snow continued late yesterday evening with 7 inches of 7 percent water weight snow through most of the Wasatch Range but there have just been light snow showers after midnight.  Ridge top temperatures have finally cooled down into the mid teens and the ridge top winds are 10-20 from the northwest with 20-30 on the highest, most exposed peaks.


Recent Avalanche Activity & Snowpack Discussion:

Problem #1: Wind slabs

Yesterday morning control work at all the ski resorts produced a widespread cycle of sensitive, soft slab avalanches from the high precipitation rates overnight.  In the backcountry, most folks could find sensitive soft slabs along the upper elevation ridges where the wind had drifted it onto steep slopes.  (Photos) and (Profiles).  Most of the folks who were out in the backcountry yesterday were pretty cagy and no one got tangled up in any of these, as far as we know.  The new snow instabilities seemed to have settled out quite a bit during the day.  With up to 7 inches of new snow early last night, I expect that you will continue to find a few sensitive soft slabs today, mostly along the upper elevation ridges.  As always, you should avoid steep slopes with recent wind drifts.


Problem #2: Wet Slides

Yesterday, the strong spring sun poked through the clouds enough to create some damp snow on the sun exposed slopes.  Some of the lower elevation slopes sluffed out during the day, such as the Y-couloir in Little Cottonwood Canyon. (photos)


Bottom Line:

There is a continued CONSIDERABLE danger of human triggered avalanches on any steep slope with recent deposits of wind drifted snow, which you will find mostly along the upper elevation ridges. There is a MODERATE danger on non-wind drifted slopes.  The danger of damp to wet avalanches will also rise to CONSIDERABLE on the steep, sun exposed slopes if the sun pokes through enough to heat make the snow damp or soggy.


Mountain Weather:

Today will be a rest day before we get yet another storm for the weekend and then another larger storm for Monday through Thursday.  The legendary winter continues….  Today, we should have enough lingering, low level moisture to keep some clouds, fog and perhaps a few snowflakes this morning.  Daytime heating will kick up some shallow convective cells.  Still I think the strong spring sun will shine through the clouds at times and get progressively more sunny and warm as the day progresses.  Ridge top temperatures will start out in the mid teens this morning and warm to the mid 20’s by afternoon.  Ridge top winds will blow 20 mph from the northwest this morning but drop to around 10 mph by afternoon.  Down at 8,000’ the day time high will get up into the mid 30’s.  Tonight, we should have some high clouds.  On Friday, the high clouds will lower throughout the day and ridge top winds will pick up and blow hard from the southwest on Friday night with a quick-hitting storm for Saturday and early Sunday.

For the extended forecast, we have another storm that looks remarkably like the last one for Monday through about Thursday.


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 probably not fly today. If they can get out, they will be in Mineral, Cardiff, Days, Grizzly 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 Friday morning.  Thanks for calling.