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.



Tuesday, April 04, 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 Tuesday, April 04, 2006, and its about 7:30 am.


Current Conditions:

Mountain temperatures remained warm overnight with many 10,000 foot locations above freezing. Light rain is occurring at some mountain locations. Ridgetop winds are from the south in the 10 to 20 mph range.


Recent Avalanche Activity & Snowpack Discussion:

I am sad to report that the third avalanche fatality in Utah this winter occurred near Pioneer Peak in Big Cottonwood Canyon on Monday. Two snowboarders left the Brighton ski resort and were walking up a ridge when a cornice broke underneath one of them. The cornice then released an avalanche that carried the snowboarder over some cliffs. He was buried under about 1 feet of snow. He was not wearing an avalanche transceiver but the Brighton ski patrol located him from one of his hands sticking out of the debris. (Click here for an accident report and photos)


Another very large cornice cracked under the weight of a skier on top of Square Top near the Canyons ski resort on Monday as well. Only a small portion of it released and the skier was not caught. (PHOTO)


Also, a natural loose wet slide triggered a larger soft slab avalanche near Elk Point on Monday. It was 2 to 4 feet deep and ran around 2000 feet. (PHOTO)

(Click here for more details on all these slides)

(Click here for more photos of avalanche activity from over the weekend, thanks to Bob Athey)


Our main concern today is going to be avalanche activity related to daytime heating. Expected rain up to 9000 feet wont help matters either. Wet avalanche activity is tricky because it does not always occur when the warning signs are there. Keep in mind however that you will look foolish if you are caught and you new that temperatures had been in the red light range even though you may not have seen any avalanche activity.


You should continue to avoid large cornices today as the warming temperatures will help to weaken the already sensitive beasts. Also, I was still able to get clean shears during snow stability tests yesterday which indicates there is still some weakness from the last storm. You may find some pockets on high elevation northerly aspects that still could pull out under the weight of a person.



Bottom Line:

Things are complex with many different problems we need to watch for. The avalanche danger starts out MODERATE and will be on the rise during the day and will most likely reach CONSIDERABLE. Avalanche activity due to heating is the main concern but stay off of large cornices and watch for possible avalanche activity within the most recent layer of snow on high elevation northerly aspects.


Mountain Weather:

A winter storm is still on the way. Today well see periods of rain up to around 9,000 feet. Temperatures at 8000 feet will be in the upper 40s and in the 30s at 10,000 feet. Winds will increase into the strong range from the southwest as the day goes on. We may see a little clearing this afternoon. The bulk of the storm will be Wednesday into Thursday with snow levels dropping to near the valley floor. 2 to 3 inches of water equivalent is possible which could produce upwards of 2 feet of snow in some locations.


Extreme skiing pioneer Doug Coombs died in an avalanche in France on Monday. Our condolences go out to his family and friends.


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 on Monday and wont 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.

Evelyn Lees will update this advisory by 7:30 Wednesday morning. Thanks for calling.