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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Wednesday, January 03, 2007  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, January 03, 2007 and it’s 7:30 in the morning. 


Current Conditions:

It’s going to be a warm, blustery day, with winds and temperatures increasing ahead of a small storm.  Around midnight, the winds shifted to more westerly direction and increased to around 15 mph with gusts to 30.  The more exposed locations have speeds of 35 mph, with gusts in the 40’s.  Temperatures are also rising, with many stations at their 24 hour high – in the upper 20’s to low 30’s.  Does the snowpack seem a bit thin?  Assuming a rough correlation between snow water content and snow depth, a quick glance at a Snotel % of average map shows many of the mountain stations are well below normal, confirming your suspicions. 


Snowpack and Avalanche Conditions:

No new avalanche activity was reported from the backcountry yesterday, with only one report of minor, localized cracking of the old wind slabs. 


Wind drifts or slabs, both old and new, will be the main avalanche problem to watch out for today.  While most of the old wind drifts seem lifeless, there may still be a few places on steep, upper elevation slopes where a person could trigger one.  As winds increase today and tonight, a whole new batch of sensitive new wind drifts may develop, most widespread on easterly facing slopes.  These new drifts will be sitting on weak facets or hard slick surfaces, making them easy to trigger.


With a small storm in the forecast, carefully observe the snow surface conditions and general state of the pack today.  The snow pack contains multiple layers of weak faceted snow, with the weakest at the surface and in the upper pack.  In some areas there is an interesting pattern of stronger, deeper snow near the ridgelines, with weaker, shallower snow mid slope.  This could lead to off ridgeline initiation of avalanches once we get some new snow.


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

The snowpack is mostly stable, and the avalanche danger is generally LOW.  There are isolated pockets of MODERATE danger on steep slopes with new or old wind drifts.  The new drifts will be most widespread on slopes facing the east half of the compass.   


Mountain Weather: 

An increasingly moist, westerly flow will be over the area today, ahead of Thursday’s Pacific storm system.  The west to southwesterly winds will increase through tonight, with ridgelines averages in the 20 to 25 mph range by this afternoon.  Speeds across the most exposed terrain will average closer to 30 mph this afternoon with gusts in the 40’s.  Temperatures today will reach the low 40’s at 8,000’ and near freezing at 10,000’.  Light snowfall is possible tonight and Thursday morning, with the heaviest snow around frontal passage late Thursday afternoon into the evening.  The short duration of heavy snowfall should result in only moderate accumulations.


Announcements: Yesterday, the Wasatch Powderbird Guides flew in Mineral, Cardiff, and Days fork.  Today, if possible, they’ll be in Mineral, Cardiff, Days, Silver, American Fork & White Pine.

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 Thursday morning, and thanks for calling.