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, April 12, 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, April 12, 2006, and it’s about 7:30 am. 


Current Conditions:

A multi-day warm up has begun, with temperatures this morning 5 to 10 degrees warmer than yesterday.  Temperatures did dip below freezing above about 10,000’, but readings in the upper 30’s to low 40’s are common at the mid and lower elevations.  The southwesterly winds have increased into the 20 to 30 mph range, with gusts in the 40’s and 50’s along the exposed ridge lines. 


Recent Avalanche Activity & Snowpack Discussion:

Yesterday, there were reports of a few wet loose sluffs and 3 shallow small slabs involving the new snow only.  Two new glide cracks were observed – one on a lower break over in Silver Fork and the other in west facing Stairs Gulch, at about 9,000'.


There will be an increasing avalanche danger today through Friday due to the warming temperatures.  So the focus is on that lengthy list of heat related avalanche problems.  The overnight refreeze is shallow, and the snow will quickly soften, with the low and mid elevation rapidly becoming punchy and unsupportable.  Both wet loose sluffs and shallow slabs will be more common today.  While expected on steep sunny slopes, the shady slopes will also get active as the newest snow heats up today.  Once you trigger a sluff or slab, there is the potential for it to gouge down into the older, wet snow, resulting in a larger slide with a deeper debris pile.  Carefully avoid terrain traps such as gullies where even a small slide can bury you.


The large ridgeline cornices will continue to weaken, often breaking back further than expected, or could fail naturally, triggering a slide.  Glide avalanches and wet slab avalanches are tricky, and could take place over the next few days.  Glide avalanches occur when melt water lubricates the ground, and the entire snowpack moves and fails as a unit.  They come down randomly, not necessarily with the heat of the day.  Wet slabs occur when the snow pack heats and water weakens or pools on a mid pack layer, often above a crust or in at the interface between two layers of different crystal types.  Shallow surface refreezes can often hide a wet weak layer beneath. 


Best procedure for the next few days is to travel early in the day, and go home once the snow heats up, or carefully stay on cooler aspects and lower angle slopes.  Avoid travel beneath glide cracks and large cornices at any time, day or night.


Bottom Line:

The avalanche danger is MODERATE today, and may increase to CONSIDERABLE with day time heating.  Wet loose sluffs and shallow wet slabs will be easily triggered by people on steep slopes of all aspects, including northerly facing slopes and at the mid and low elevations.  With a prolonged warming trend forecast, the avalanche danger will increase through Friday, with wet slabs and glide avalanches a concern. 


Mountain Weather:

Skies will be partly cloudy this morning, with a few rain and snow showers possible, quickly changing to a mostly sunny afternoon.  High temperatures will be near 50 at 8,000’ and in the upper 30’s at 10,000’.   The southwesterly winds will remain in the 20 to 30 mph range, with strong gusts across the ridgelines.  Dry, warm and breezy through Friday, with a mild Pacific storm due to arrive Friday night.  Warm and dry again on Sunday, with a stronger, colder storm possible early next week.


The second annual “Beacon and Eggs” contests are in full swing, with BIG prizes to the winners.  The next big event is next Saturday at Snowbird.    For more information, go to http://www.snowbird.com/events/events/beaconandeggs.html


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 get out yesterday and are unlikely to fly today. If they do, they will be in Cardiff, Days, Silver, White Pine and American Fork.  For more info, call 742-2800.
Special announcement:

The Wasatch-Cache National Forest is authorizing Wasatch Powderbird Guides to operate within established golden eagle mitigation buffers to aid research biologists collecting data to evaluate the effects of heli-skiing operations on nesting golden eagles in the Tri Canyon Area. This authorization is under permit from the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in cooperation with Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and will be in effect through 30 April 2006.  For further information please contract Steve Scheid at the Salt Lake Ranger District at 801-733-2689.

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.