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, December 07, 2006  7:30 am
Good morning, this is Bruce Tremper with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is Thursday, December 07, 2006 and it’s 7:30 in the morning. 


UDOT plans to fire artillery in Little Cottonwood Canyon this morning, Thursday, Dec 7th.  Please stay clear of all south facing paths between Maybird and Cardiff, including all of Superior.  For more information and any updates, call 801-975-4838 or go to www.udot.utah.gov/avalanche. 


Congratulations to Colleen Graham, the President of the Friends of the Utah Avalanche Center.  Last night, she received the 2006 Wasatch Outdoor Volunteer Award from REI.  She certainly deserves it.  In the past 10 years, she has helped turn the FUAC from a bake-sale organization into a major fundraising operation, which helps save lives in Utah.  The entire Utah avalanche community is indebted to her.  Click HERE for photos.  (And, as she reminded the crowd last night, don’t forget that tonight, the FUAC, will hold their next fundraiser at Brewvies tonight, Dec 7th. There will be two showings of TGR’s new film, “The Anomaly”, at 7pm and 9pm.  Advance tickets are available at feedthehabit.com.)


Current Conditions:

Today will be yet another great day to get up above the choking smog in the valleys and into the warm, clean, sweet-smelling air in the mountains to blow the soot out of your lungs.   Last night was another clear night with balmy ridge top temperatures around 27 degrees.  The humidity has started to rise, making temperature inversions in the mountain valleys not quite so strong and it is warming up the snow surface temperatures.  Snow surface conditions include the usual wide variety we get when it hasn’t snowed in awhile.  There is still some soft, recrystallized snow and nice riding conditions on the wind and sun sheltered slopes between about 8,000 and 9,500’.  There is hard, wind-blasted snow above tree line and various sun crusts on sun-exposed slopes.


Snowpack and Avalanche Conditions:

The snowpack is mostly stable, and there are only a few isolated places where a person could trigger a slide.  Stronger winds a few days ago created some wind deposits in above-tree-line, wind exposed terrain but most of those slabs have lost their stored elastic energy and are no longer sensitive to triggers.  Also, with today’s very warm temperatures, there may be a few damp to wet sluffs you can get going on the south facing slopes as they heat up in the warm, daytime sun.  (Click here for a current Snow Diagram)


The main thing we have to worry about is the future.  Clear skies create weak layers of faceted snow and there is no lack of very weak, sugar snow especially on the snow surface in wind and sun sheltered slopes.  It would be a good idea to get out over the next three days and carefully memorize where this weak surface snow exists because an snow storm on Sunday night will likely produce sensitive avalanches in these areas.   In addition, the entire snowpack is shallow and the clear skies have maintained strong temperature gradients throughout the snowpack, which has rotted the entire snowpack into weak, faceted snow in all the shallow snowpack areas.

Bottom Line:

The avalanche danger is mostly LOW today.  Low danger does not mean no danger.  There may be a few lingering wind slabs up high and you can also get a few wet sluffs going on the steep, sun exposed slopes today.  But be aware, we expect rapidly rising avalanche danger Sunday night as a storm arrives.


Mountain Weather:

Today should be yet another beautiful, warm, sunny day in the mountains with continued lung-clogging, cold smog in the valleys.  Ridge top temperatures will rise to the mid 30’s with 8,000’ temperatures rising into the mid 40’s.  Winds should be well behaved.

The main news is that we finally see a change in the pattern starting this weekend.  We may blow the smog out of the valleys with a weak cold front on Saturday morning and a stronger cold front on Sunday night may bring some significant snow to the mountains.  Then, there is another storm on Tuesday and Wednesday.



Wasatch Backcountry Rescue and Powderbirds will be testing a new helicopter-mounted avalanche receiver in Little Cottonwood Canyon today, mostly over the Superior slide path and in Mineral Fork.


We appreciate any snowpack and avalanche observations you have, so please leave us a message at (801) 524-5304 or 1-800-662-4140, or email us at [email protected]. (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 Friday morning.