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 21, 2006  7:30 am
Good morning, this is Brett Kobernik with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is Thursday, December 21, 2006 and it’s 7:30 in the morning. 


Current Conditions:

Under mostly clear skies, temperatures are a bit warmer then yesterday morning currently around 20 degrees along the ridges.  Northerly winds on Wednesday did transport some snow but speeds remained fairly low and are now in the 5-10 mph range from the northwest gusting into the 20s at the most exposed locations.


Snowpack and Avalanche Conditions:

I received reports of a few wind slabs that released with slope cuts on Wednesday with one taking a skier for a short ride.  The skier unintentionally released a 45 foot wide slab that was 10 to 24 inches deep on a 35 degree east facing slope at around 10,000 feet in elevation in Snake Creek.  He grabbed a tree and avoided a serious accident.  This was a collapse failure of faceted snow below last week’s rime crust.  Other locations where wind slabs were released were small isolated pockets near Gobblers Knob and a few in the Ogden area mountains that were up to a foot deep.


This close call highlights two things.  The first is faceted snow beneath the crust which may become more of a problem once we receive more snow.  (Click for a snowpit)  This crust and faceted snow layering is most pronounced from around 8500 feet to 10,500 feet.  Careful examination of the snowpack in this range should be done for future reference.  (Click for more snowpits)


The next thing this accident highlights is recent wind loading.  For today you will want to pay attention to any area along the upper elevation ridgelines that has wind affected snow.  With recent winds from many directions, you can find pillows on a variety of aspects.  Slope cuts should be used prior to diving in to steeper slopes.  Watch for cracking while traveling which indicates you are in wind affected terrain.


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

The avalanche danger is generally LOW today.  Keep in mind that LOW danger doesn’t mean no danger AND there are pockets with a MODERATE danger on slopes steeper than 35 degrees with drifts of wind blown snow.


Mountain Weather:

For today we should see some increasing high clouds with ridgetop temperatures in the low to mid 20s and light northerly ridgetop winds switching to a more westerly direction this afternoon.  A weak storm should affect the mountains during Friday with a chance of 3 to 6 inches of new snow.  Another quick hitter will move through on Sunday with a few more chances for snow through next week.



The Wasatch Powderbird Guides will most be in northern powder circuit today, including Mineral, Cardiff, Days, and Silver Fork with flights also in Millcreek, American Fork as well as the Cascade Ridge area in Provo.


Listen to the advisory.  Try our new streaming audio or podcasts

Our new, state wide tollfree hotline is 1-888-999-4019.
(For early morning detailed avalanche activity report hit option 8)

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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.


Bruce Tremper will update this advisory by 7:30 on Friday morning, and thanks for calling.