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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Thursday, November 16, 2006  7:30 am
Good morning, this is Bruce Tremper with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center.  Today is Thursday, November 16, 2006 and it’s 7:30 in the morning. 


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


I will give a free avalanche awareness talk tonight at Kirkhams at 7:00 pm.  Kirkhams is located at 3125 S. State St. 


Current Conditions:

Today is probably a good day to catch up on your indoor work.  It will be gloomy weather in the mountains today with clouds, warm temperatures and the possibility of rain to quite high elevations this morning before the rain-snow line lowers to around 8,000’ later in the day.  On the highest peaks, the temperature has risen to freezing and the winds are 30 mph from the west-southwest.  Yesterday, there was some nice, creamy powder on the sun sheltered slopes but the south facing slopes started to get damp with some rollerballs in the afternoon sun.


Snowpack and Avalanche Conditions:

Yesterday, Brett Kobernik and I went up to look at the skier-triggered avalanche in Silver Fork on Tuesday and Brett posted an excellent report with photos.  Wow, it was an impressive slide breaking 2-3 feet deep and over a quarter mile wide.  Thanks to a textbook-perfect rescue by the party, everyone is alive and well.

Although the snowpack has settled down dramatically from the widespread avalanche activity on Tuesday, yesterday a backcountry skier triggered a slab 3’ deep and 100’ wide on the northeast face of Little Superior Buttress but they were able to ski off it.  Several other people reported collapsing and cracking snow.  All the avalanches have been fracturing on a layer of very tender, sugary, faceted crystals near the ground and making avalanches 2-3 feet deep and sometimes very wide.  Faceted snow is one of the so-called “persistent” weak layers because it continues to produce avalanches sometimes several days after it has been loaded with the weight of new snow or wind blown snow.  Click here for a web photo gallery. In other words, today you will continue to find a few booby traps that backcountry riders could trigger.  All the cagy avalanche folks I know are continuing to be very suspicious of northerly-facing slopes steeper than about 35 degrees. (For detailed avalanche activity information call 888-999-4019 and pick option 8.)


Bottom Line:

The avalanche danger is what I might call a scary MODERATE on northwest, north, northeast and east facing slopes above about 9,000’, steeper than about 35 degrees.  The avalanches may be stubborn to trigger but if you do trigger one, it will most likely be large and dangerous.  On southerly-facing slopes that had no preexisting snow prior to last weekend’s storm, the avalanche danger is LOW.   There is also a MODERATE danger of wet avalanche activity at lower elevations today if we get significant rain.


Mountain Weather:

We’ll have poopy weather in the mountains today with a warm, shallow cloud layer streaming in from the west.  This will bring light precipitation, with the rain-snow line up around 10,000’ this morning and lowering to around 8,000’ by afternoon.  We may get a couple inches of wet snow by tonight.  It looks like similar weather on Friday.

The extended forecast calls for warming temperatures over the weekend and then the possibility of a storm around Thanksgiving.


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.