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.

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Sunday, November 12, 2006  7:30 am
Good morning, this is Bruce Tremper with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center.  Today is Sunday, November 12th and it’s 7:30 in the morning.  We will be issuing 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 closed to uphill traffic starting Tuesday morning in preparation for opening.   Remember, your favorite slopes that usually have moguls could easily slide.


Current Conditions:

10 inches of new snow fell yesterday and last night at 10,000’ in the Cottonwood Canyons with about 7 percent water equivalent.  The winds blew hard from the southwest as the storm approached yesterday morning blowing 60 gusting to 80 along the highest peaks and 30 gusting to 60 along most upper elevation ridges.  After the front arrived, the winds died down to reasonable levels as the snow fell but the winds picked up again this morning, 25 gusting to 40 along the highest peaks. 


Temperatures were in the 20’s when the snow fell but they have dropped down to a chilly 6 degrees at 11,000’ and 12 degrees at 10,000’ this morning.  Skies have cleared and we expect most sunny skies today.


Snowpack and Avalanche Conditions:

You will find two different avalanche problems today: first, the fresh drifts of wind blown snow, and second,  chance that slides can break into the sugary old snow on the upper elevation shady slopes. 


First for the wind slabs: As usual, you need to be suspicious of wind slabs especially in upper elevation wind exposed terrain.  You will find both old, buried, wind slabs from yesterday’s wind as well as fresh wind drifts that occurred overnight.  As always, 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 10,000 feet, on the shady northerly and easterly facing slopes, this old snow has become weak, sugary and faceted.  With snow from the past couple snow storms sitting on top, avalanches may break deeper into these old layers and they could break a couple feet deep.  This is always a tricky time of year because people tend to flock to the northerly-facing slopes because they have the best base, but those are also the most dangerous slopes as far as avalanches.


Bottom Line:

The avalanche danger is MODERATE on any slope steeper than about 35 degrees with fresh drifts of wind blown snow.  There is also a MODERATE danger of triggering avalanches down into older, deeper layers above about 10,000’ on northwest, north, northeast and east facing slopes steeper than about 35 degrees.  Although the south facing slopes will likely be the safest as far as avalanches, but they are the most dangerous as far as hitting rocks and stumps.



Mountain Weather:

Today should be a nice rest day before yet another storm hits Utah on Monday morning through mid day Tuesday.  Today, ridge top temperatures will rise into the mid 20’s and the wind should be fairly well behaved but start to pick up tonight.  Skies should be mostly sunny.


The Monday-Tuesday storm looks very vigorous with lots of strong wind along with about a foot and a half of new snow.  Winds should pick up and start blowing hard tonight and Monday and they should blow hard from the southwest through northwest 40-50 mph with higher gusts.  This should dramatically increase the avalanche danger, so we have what we call an “avalanche watch” for Monday and Tuesday, meaning that we expect potentially dangerous conditions in the near future.


For the extended forecast, after the Monday-Tuesday storm, it looks like we will have a week of nice weather.



Our staff would like to give a big thanks to Colleen Graham, Paul Digel 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


Finally, remember that this avalanche bulleting describes general conditions and that local variations always occur.  Be sure to take a reputable avalanche class and learn to judge local conditions as you travel.