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


Saturday, January 06, 2007  7:30 am
Good morning, this is Brett Kobernik with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory, and today is Saturday, January 06, 2007. 


Current Conditions:

The last small storm produced a well needed refresher and most mountain locations from Ogden down to Provo received 6 to 12” of light density new snow which includes a few inches that fell during the day on Friday.  Mountain temperatures remain chilly in the single digits and the winds are still generally in the 10mph range from the northwest but have increased slightly over the last few hours.

Snowpack and Avalanche Conditions:

The light density snow that fell produced a fairly wide spread natural dry loose snow avalanche cycle Thursday night which didn’t pose a real great threat.  (PHOTO)  Many people were able to initiate sluffing on Friday from slope cuts or from just disturbing the new snow on steeper slopes.  (PHOTO:  skier initiated)  The slopes needed to be over 35 degrees in steepness.  A few slab avalanches were triggered as well including one on southeast facing Mt Superior which reportedly broke 40 feet wide and propagated 50’ above the person who was not caught.  It ran around 800 feet vertical before going out of sight.  I also was able to initiate a couple of soft slabs in the Twin Lakes pass area which were of very minor consequence but did propagate as a slab.  (PHOTO)  The areas that produced these soft slabs were slightly affected by the wind which brings us to today’s main concern.


The winds are forecast to pick up today which will easily transport this light density snow and form sensitive drifts.  The new snow does contain some weakness so I’d expect that the new slabs will be quite sensitive once they start forming.  You may also find a few of these that already formed yesterday along the ridges which were demonstrated by a few folks who triggered them as I described.  Also keep in mind that sluffing will be likely again today on the steeper slopes but should be manageable for experienced users.


I’d like to remind everyone that we do have a generally weak deeper snowpack structure that’s formed so far this year.  This latest storm did not overload it enough to break into deeper layers but today’s forecast wind event may push it over the edge in many places.  Areas around Jackson Hole and the Tetons have been in a similar pattern but received a bit more snow out of this last storm where 7 people were caught in avalanches on Thursday and there was one fatality from an avalanche on Friday.  This should indicate what could happen to our similar weak snow structure here, especially with today’s winds.  Also keep in mind that fewer snow storms tend to breed “powder fever” once we do get some new snow.  Try not to let your hunger for fresh snow override your decision making.  This is very hard to accomplish even for experienced people like myself.


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

Today, the avalanche danger is MODERATE on slopes steeper than about 35 degrees which includes sluffing on all aspects and potential for slab avalanches in the wind affected terrain which is mainly higher in elevation.  As the wind speeds increase the avalanche danger will rise to CONSIDERABLE on steep, wind drifted slopes.  These may break into deeper weak layers which would produce a much more serious avalanche.  The avalanche danger is not as great on slopes less then 35 degrees in non wind affected terrain.


Mountain Weather: 

Today we’ll see increasing clouds and wind with a chance for snow today and a better chance in the afternoon.  2 to 4 inches is possible.  Temperatures will remain cold in the single digits to mid teens and ridgetop winds will be from the northwest gradually increasing through the day until they reach into the 40 to 50mph range this evening.  Snow showers will end later this evening.



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

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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.

Drew Hardesty
will update this advisory by 7:30 on Sunday morning, and thanks for calling.