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.

keeping you on top


Saturday, November 11, 2006  1:00 pm
Good morning, this is Evelyn Lees with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center.  We will be issuing almost daily updates at varying times throughout this storm cycle.  Our regular daily advisories will begin later this month. 


Special Announcement:

Remember, the ski areas are not open, not doing control work, and must be treated as backcountry terrain.  The Alta ski area will close to uphill traffic starting Tuesday morning in preparation for opening. 


Current Conditions:

Ahead of the next Pacific storm system, temperatures and winds have increased.  As of 6 am, it is near 40 degrees at 8,000’ and 30 degrees at 10,000’.  The southwesterly winds picked up around midnight, averaging 20 to 30 mph at 10,000’ and 35 to 60 mph at 11,000’, with gusts in the 60’s and 70’s. 


Thursday storm dropped 5” to 10” of snow above about 8,000’ in the upper Cottonwoods.  On the upper elevation northerly and easterly facing slopes, it landed on a 12 to 16” base, capped with a crust in some areas. Elsewhere, it essentially fell on bare ground.  The best turns will be on those upper elevation, shady slopes that held snow before this last storm, with resort runs packed by the cats and low angle, grassy slopes your best bets to avoid hitting rocks.  This morning’s winds and warm temperatures will be blowing yesterday’s light powder into denser drifts. 


Snowpack and Avalanche Conditions:

There will be two avalanche problems today and tomorrow – the fresh drifts of wind blown snow and an increasing chance that slides can break into the sugary old snow.  Due to the strong winds, the sensitive, new wind drifts will be found both along the ridges and well off the ridge lines, around breakovers, sub ridges and terrain features.  Avoid any steep slopes with recent deposits of wind drifted snow.  The second avalanche problem is caused by snow that has been sitting on the ground since September and October.  Above about 9,500 feet, on the shady northerly and easterly facing slopes, this old snow has become weak, sugary and faceted.  As the wind and storm pile up snow on these weak layers today and tomorrow, slides may start to break into the old snow.  Slides breaking on these sugary facets will be deeper, wider, and may be triggered from a distance.   With the avalanche season here, make sure you carry your beacon, shovel and probe, use safe travel procedures, and avoid an early season accident.  If you do go for a ride this time of year, it often involves slamming into rocks.


Mountain Weather:

A Pacific storm will reach the area today, with snow developing this afternoon. Snow levels will start out around 7500 feet then lower to the valley floors late this evening. Snow totals of 8 to 12” are expected by Sunday morning in the mountains.  Highs today will be near 40 at 8,000’ before dropping into the teens tonight.  Strong, southwesterly winds will continue throughout the day, blowing in the 25 to 35 mph range across the 9,000’ ridges, and averaging 35 to 45 mph across the highest ridges.  Gusts will be in the 60’s and 70’s.  High pressure will briefly return Sunday and Sunday night, before the next vigorous Pacific storm impacts the area with snow and high winds Monday through Tuesday.


Bottom Line:

The avalanche danger is MODERATE on any slope steeper than about 35 degrees with fresh drifts of wind blown snow.  With additional loading from wind and new snow today and tonight, the avalanche danger may rise to CONSIDERABLE on steep northerly and easterly facing slopes above about 9,500’, where there is the potential for avalanches to break into the older faceted snow, creating wider, deeper slides.



Our staff would like to give a big thanks to Colleen Graham and everyone else that organized, volunteered for and attended the Friends annual backcountry gear swap, making it a success.  The next two FUAC fundraisers will be at Brewvies.  Schralptown” by Thrilhead Creations is playing tonight through November 16th, and “the Anomaly” by TGR is playing on Dec 7th.


To find early season weather information, be sure to bookmark the National Weather Service page and you should regularly consult the Snow Page, (Alta Collins station is operating) the Satellite Imagery page (look at infrared Western U.S. 2km).


If there is anything we should know about, continue to let us know by calling (801) 524-5304 or 1-800-662-4140, email [email protected] or fax 801-524-6301