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.

keeping you on top


Monday, December 18, 2006  7:30 am
Good morning, this is Drew Hardesty with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is Monday, December 18, 2006 and it’s 7:30 in the morning. 


Current Conditions:

Now that the white dust has settled and the canopy of stars blankets the early morning Wasatch, let’s take a look at storm totals across the range.  The Logan and Ogden mountains picked up 4-6”, the Park City mountains 15-22”, the Cottonwoods 20”, and the Provo mountains a desperately needed 20-25”.  Water amounts came in at an inch to an inch and a half, producing densities of less than 10%.  The second wave came in a bit heavier, producing inverted riding and trail-breaking with a bit of collapsing here and there.  Temps have bottomed out to the single digits and winds, thankfully, are light and variable.


Snowpack and Avalanche Conditions:

Most of our observers prudently stayed in sheltered, low angle terrain, but avalanche control teams picked off numerous soft slabs up to a foot deep and 100’ wide.  They were most sensitive in the morning with a 20-30mph easterly wind blowing, but by about midday, most of the instabilities had settled out.  Instabilities like these are manageable, and like a novice poker player, show their hand early on the first go-around. 


Here are a couple pieces of good news:  time, settlement and the lack of wind will have fostered a great increase in stability of the new snow and all but a few of the remaining drifts will have settled out.  Secondly, the slow addition of weight and bulk to the snowpack will likely help to strengthen some of the buried faceted snow in the mid and lower red-light districts of the snowpack.  It’ll be something to monitor nonetheless.


If you’re heading out today, take time to work into the steeper terrain.  Drop cornices, jump on test slopes, move from island of safety to island of safety, and do a couple shovel shear or tap tests to get a feel for the bonding of the newer snow. 


Bottom Line for the Salt Lake, Park City, and Provo area mountains:

Most terrain has a LOW avalanche danger.  Steep wind drifted slopes will have a MODERATE danger where human triggered avalanches will still be possible.  These areas are more pronounced on upper elevation southwest through north and northeast  facing terrain.  Isolated steep areas will still have some sluff potential as well. 

The Ogden area mountains will have a mostly LOW danger today.


Mountain Weather:

Skies are clear with expected highs in the teens today.  With the closed Low centered over the AZ/CA border, expect easterly winds to blow 20mph along the ridgelines.  The Low is the main feature affecting the southwest, and is forecast to move easterly today and tomorrow, kicking a good amount of moisture into southern Utah.  We’ll likely get some spillover clouds.  High pressure builds in for the week with a weak storm set for late Thursday.



The Wasatch Powderbird Guides will be in American Fork and Snake Creek today.


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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 Tuesday morning.