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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Tuesday, November 14, 2006  7:30 am
Good morning, this is Drew Hardesty with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center.  Today is Tuesday, November 14th 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:

Alta and Snowbird resorts will be closed to uphill traffic today due to avalanche control work. 


Current Conditions:

A warm, vigorous storm system moved through overnight, pounding the Wasatch with strong westerly winds and heavy precipitation rates.  With much of the snowfall arriving before frontal passage, densities ranged from 12-15% as the rain-snow line hovered around 7500’.  The blustery winds averaged 30-40mph with gusts into the 80’s for much of the night.  For snowfall, the Ogden area mountains were hit the hardest on the west to southwest flow with up to 2” of snow water equivalent, loosely translating to 8-10” along the highest elevations.  The tri-Canyons and high elevation Provo mountains picked up 5-6” over and above yesterday’s 3-4”.  We could see another 5-6” with lots of graupel before the storm moves on to the east by midday. 


Snowpack and Avalanche Conditions:

Fewer folks were out yesterday and yet there was a serious close call in the unopened Alta terrain near West Rustler, a rocky exposed northeast facing shot at a little over 10,000’ in elevation.  The skier triggered and was subsequently buried by the 1-2’ deep, 40’ wide avalanche with only his face poking out of the snow.  Fortunately, he walked away with only minor bumps and bruises.  Just down the street in Little Cottonwood, active control work pulled out avalanches to the ground in similar terrain.  Audible collapses in the snowpack were less-than-subtle reminders that the early season facets in the high northerly terrain remain active and cranky.


The new snow and wind drifts will be very sensitive today in steep upper elevation terrain and will likely overload the lingering basal weaknesses from the early season snows.  Shooting cracks and collapsing in the inverted layering will be the rule rather than the exception as the snowpack takes its second ‘thumpin’’ of the year.  The weak basal layering is most pronounced on northwest through north through east facing slopes above about 10,000’ and it may be possible to trigger avalanches at a distance.  A simple ski pole test down to the ground will give the story in the absence of any audible whoomph or collapse.



Bottom Line:

The avalanche danger is CONSIDERABLE on any slope steeper than about 35 degrees with fresh drifts of wind blown snow.  Human triggered avalanches will be probable and there will likely be evidence of natural activity from the brunt of the storm.  Any avalanche triggered in the steep upper elevation northwest through east facing slopes will have the potential to be large and dangerous, pulling out to the ground.



Mountain Weather:

The storm should start winding down by midday with another 6” or so expected.  The northwest winds should blow 25-30mph for most of the morning, then taper off by the afternoon.  10,000’ temps will drop to the low teens.  High pressure builds in for the week with a few minor disturbances expected late Thursday and over the weekend.



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 bulletin 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.