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


Thursday, February 15, 2007  7:30 am
Good morning, this is Bruce Tremper with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is Thursday, February 15, 2007 and it’s 7:30 in the morning.

The Banff Mountain Film Festival will be held at Kingsbury Hall next Tuesday and Wednesday, February 20 & 21st.  Tickets are $7.50 per show and available at Kingsbury Hall, Art-Tix, the Salt Lake and Sandy REI stores, and the Outdoor Recreation Program at the U of U.  Shows start at 7pm each night.  (CLICK FOR DETAILS)


Current Conditions:

The winds are blowing hard from the west and northwest.  With the jet over us, the higher elevation stations are blowing significantly harder than ones just a couple thousand vertical feet lower.  At 11,000’ the winds are blowing 40, gusting to 60 but most other ride top locations are blowing 20 gusting to 35.  Temperatures are cold this morning around 13 on the ridge tops but they will warm up into the 20’s later today with continued strong winds and light snow showers, which will increase avalanche danger throughout the day.


Recent Avalanche Activity:

Although snow avalanche activity has thankfully diminished from the widespread activity on Sunday and Monday, there are still many slabs hanging in the balance just waiting for a trigger.  Yesterday, a snowboarder triggered an avalanche that was caught on video near Guradsman’s Pass.  He miraculously escaped despite being strained through trees.  Also, a backcountry skier triggered an avalanche on a ski cut on Box Elder Peak.  It was on a steep, north facing slope around 9800’ and it broke 2 or more feet deep and 60 feet wide.  He narrowly escaped being caught.  PHOTO.  Also, someone collapsed the flat slope at the top of Flanigans, which is a tree-gladed slope in Silver Fork near Solitude, and it triggered a 2’ deep avalanche on faceted snow.

Snow and Avalanche Discussion:
Today the main concern will be fresh wind slabs forming from the strong west to northwest winds.  Strong winds combined with rising temperature will create sensitive wind deposits.  They will form mostly along the upper elevation east to south facing slopes, but they will be cross-loaded onto other slopes as well.  Be sure to avoid all steep slopes with recent deposits of wind drifted snow.  They will look smooth and rounded and often feel slabby and south hollow.

Also, as you will get tired of us saying, this extremely weak and fragile layer of depth hoar, buried about two feet deep, will not gain strength very rapidly.  It will continue to produce avalanches every time new snow or wind blown snow overloads it and occasionally when someone jumps on it.  These are the kinds of pesky conditions where several people can get away with a bold line but the next person will trigger a large, potentially deadly avalanche.  All the cagy people I know are continuing to play it conservative and staying on gentler slopes.  Remember that you can trigger avalanches from a distance, so avoid travel below steep terrain.

FYI, I investigated a huge avalanche that skiers triggered in White Pine Canyon on Monday.  Several slopes avalanched at once and it took out both their up tracks and descent tracks.  They were very lucky.  PHOTOS.

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

The avalanche danger remain CONSIDERABLE on any slope steeper than about 35 degrees with recent wind deposits and also a lingering CONSIDERABLE danger even on non-wind drifted slopes that face northwest, north, northeast and east above about 8,500’.  Other slopes will have MODERATE danger.   You should continue to stay on gentler terrain. 


Mountain Weather: 

Today and Friday we will have a moist, west to northwest airmass with strong winds and rising temperature.  We should get about 6 inches today and another few more inches tonight with more snow accumulating the farther north you go.  Ridge top winds will continue to be strong, around 35, gusting to near 60 from the west and northwest and will continue strong on Friday.  Ridge top temperatures will be in the lower teens this morning and rise to the lower 20’s by afternoon.  Total snow accumulation by late Friday could be around 10 inches in favored areas.

The extended forecast calls for warm and dry this weekend with a storm early in the week with most of the energy diving south of us, but it should give us a few inches of snow.



Yesterday, the Wasatch Powderbird Guides flew in American Fork, Silver Fork and Grizzly.  Today, they most likely be shut down for wind and snow, but if possible, they will be in the same areas plus Cardiff.  With questions regarding their areas of operation call 742-2800.

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

UDOT highway avalanche control work info can be found HERE or by calling (801) 975-4838.

Our statewide tollfree line is 1-888-999-4019 (early morning, option 8).

For a list of avalanche classes, click HERE
For our classic text advisory click HERE.
To sign up for automated e-mails of our graphical advisory click HERE

We appreciate all the great snowpack and avalanche observations we’ve been getting, so keep leaving us messages 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.

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