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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Friday, January 05, 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, and today is Friday, January 05, 2007. 


Current Conditions:

It’s around 7 am, and I’m still trying to figure out how to call in sick today.  In a normal year, a “storm” with totals of 8-12” wouldn’t qualify for sneaking out of work, but with the current season, it’s looking like a lot of fun.  The mountain snow was fairly evenly distributed from Ogden south through Provo, with water contents of under one inch.  The winds cooperated by decreasing just as it started snowing yesterday.  They have been from the northwest in the 10 to 15 mph range, with gusts to 20.  Only a few of the highest peaks have 20 mph averages, with gusts to 30.  Temperatures have plummeted into the single digits along the high ridges, and are in the teens at mid elevations.

Snowpack and Avalanche Conditions:

The new snow landed on a wide assortment of old snow surfaces, including hard old wind slabs and weak, recrystalized powder.  Yesterday, loose snow sluffing was common, with one natural soft slab avalanche reported in the Ogden area mountains, 1˝ feet deep, off a steep, northeast facing, high elevation ridgeline.  Two small old wind slabs, 10 to 15 inches deep and about 20’ wide, were triggered in the Provo area mountains, failing on the facets beneath.


Today, I expect similar activity until the winds increase and start to drift the new snow.  This morning, the new snow will sluff easily on steep slopes – some of these sluffs could be long running, so be alert to parties below you.  Yesterday, I found the weakest snow on those sheltered, shady slopes that had the best recrystalized snow conditions the past few days.  All it took was a hard turn or a quick slide slip to get the new snow sluffing.  Often the weaker snow was several turns off the wind hammered ridgelines and more pronounced at mid elevations and along the low elevation creek beds and steep road cuts.  Today will be a great day to jump on small test slopes, kick cornices if possible, and definitely avoid terrain traps such as gullies.  The now hidden, hard old wind slabs can still be triggered in isolated palaces, so don’t get surprised.  The northerly winds are forecast to increase later this afternoon, and once they start to drift the snow into more cohesive drifts, the avalanche danger will rise.   


I don’t expect slides to break into the deeper faceted weak layers today, but with the junk show of a snow pack we have, the possibility does exist, especially in areas where the snow pack is less than about a meter deep.  Watch for cracking and listen for collapsing, or whoomphing noises, indications of the potential for a deeper release. 


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

Today, the avalanche danger is MODERATE on all slopes steeper than about 35 degrees, at upper, mid and low elevations.  As the wind speeds increase this afternoon and tonight, the avalanche danger will rise to CONSIDERABLE on steep, wind drifted slopes.  If you stay on slopes less steep than about 35 degrees, which are not connected to or below steeper slopes, the avalanche danger is generally LOW.


Mountain Weather: 

A few final snow showers this morning could add another inch or two of feathery snow before skies clear.  Temperatures will be cold today, in the low teens at 8,000’ and near zero at 10,000’.  The increasing northerly winds will make it feel even colder, as they pick up into the 15 to 20 mph range with gusts in the 30’s.  Along the higher ridges, 25 mph averages with gusts in the 50’s will be possible late afternoon.  A fast moving disturbance will move into northern Utah tomorrow, with a few inches of snow and hazardously strong winds.


Announcements: Yesterday, the Wasatch Powderbird Guides did not fly, and if they can fly today, they will be in Mineral, Cardiff, Days, Silver, White Pine, Grizzly, and American Fork.

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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 Saturday morning, and thanks for calling.