Wasatch Cache National Forest
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Wednesday, November 29, 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, November 29, 2006 and it’s 7:30 in the morning. 


Current Conditions:

The storm is winding down, and snow totals are in the 1 to 1½ foot range in the Ogden, Provo, and Park City mountains.  The Cottonwoods received 2 to 3 feet of snow, with water weights of 1 ¾ to 2 ½ inches.   Yesterday evening, winds picked up for about 6 hours, into the 15 to 30 mph range from a westerly direction.  Currently, winds are less than 15 mph, even across the highest ridges.  The temperatures are just screaming frostbite – they’re in the single digits to -10 F.  In areas that received the most snow, trail breaking is the perfect post Thanksgiving work out. 


Snowpack and Avalanche Conditions:

Most reports yesterday were of stable snow.  The new 1 to 2 feet of snow had no cohesive or slab like quality, and while weak layers exist both within the new snow and at the old snow surface, without a slab, it’s awfully hard to trigger a slide.  Sluffs were easy to trigger, but manageable.  


Today, sensitive wind slabs could exist and be more widespread in the higher, open terrain, created by the slightly stronger winds overnight.  The new wind drifts will most likely be along ridgelines, breakovers or around terrain features.  Cracking in the snow and cornices are clues that you’re in an area where the wind drifted the snow.  As always, avoid any steep slope with recent deposits of wind drifted snow.  And with two feet or more of snow available for transport, be very alert to any increase in wind speeds today.  Stronger winds will quickly drift the snow, and the avalanche danger will rise rapidly.  


I am still concerned about the old facets near ground and shady slopes with a weak, sugary snow old snow surface.  Yesterday, a Big Cottonwood resort had two slides release on the near surface facets with explosives, and there were two small collapses on the north side of Cardiff Peak.  So as you travel in the backcountry today, there are a few isolated places where a person could trigger a deeper slide, even to the ground, on very steep, shady upper elevation slopes.


Bottom Line:

The avalanche danger is MODERATE on slopes steeper than about 35 degrees.  Moderate means human triggered avalanches are possible.  Steep, wind affected terrain has a CONSIDERABLE danger.  Carefully observe the winds today – if you are in an area where the wind speeds increase, the avalanche danger will rise rapidly.


Mountain Weather:

The cold, upper level low over Utah will slowly shift east of the area today.  Intermittent light snow showers could produce an additional 2 to 5” of snow.  Temperatures will remain bitterly cold, with highs near 5 at 8,000’ and minus 5 at 10,000’.  The northwesterly winds should remain light, less than 20 mph, and shift to the north later today.  Along the highest ridges, winds speeds may increase into the 20 to 30 mph range.  Skies will be mostly clear tonight, with temperatures dropping to below zero at all elevations.  Thursday will be warmer, with mostly cloudy skies.  Another cold front will move through Thursday night, bringing more frigid air and just a slight chance for snow.



UDOT in Provo Canyon will sight in their 105 howitzer on Thursday, at 11:30.  Ice climbers should avoid Provo canyon.


Our partners, the FUAC, will hold their next fundraiser at Brewvies on Dec 7th. There will be two showings of TGR’s new film, “The Anomaly”, at 7pm and 9pm.  Advance tickets are available.


We appreciate any snowpack and avalanche observations, so please let us know by calling (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.


Brett Kobernik will update this advisory by 7:30 on Thursday morning and thanks for calling.