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


Monday, February 19, 2007  7:30 am
Good morning, this is Drew Hardesty with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is Monday, February 19, 2007 and it’s 7:30 in the morning.


We’ve had another tragic avalanche fatality.  A 17 year old was killed yesterday in an out of bounds area adjacent to Snowbasin.  This makes three Utah fatalities in two days with multiple near misses and close calls.


Current Conditions:

Yesterday was the ninth day in a row with human triggered avalanches and my money is on today being the tenth.  A quick hitting storm is moving through this morning with 8-12” pretty evenly distributed across the range.  In the last couple of hours, the snow has fallen at 2”/hr and densities are less than 10%.  The winds remain moderate to strong out of the west southwest along the exposed ridgelines, but are less than 15mph in more protected areas.  After the winds shift northwesterly, they should drop off to a more reasonable 15mph.  Temps are in the low to mid-twenties. 


Snow and Avalanche Discussion:

It appears that two other skiers were caught and carried in separate incidents in the Powder Mountain backcountry and the Canyons backcountry, though details are thin at this point.  Bruce’s preliminary incident report on yesterday’s fatality can be found on our accidents page here.  


The new snow will provide yet another layer of complexity to our patchwork quilt of avalanche problems in the backcountry.  The high snowfall rates and gusty winds will lead to sensitive drifting and cracking in the new snow, with drifts of up to 18” in exposed locations.  They’ll be most pronounced along the north and east facing steep slopes and breakovers and can be mitigated by safe ski cuts and cornice drops.  The additional weight may reactivate some of the already slow-to-stabilize avalanche problems of the past few days, again, most prominent on northwest through east through southeast facing slopes.   


When very experience people are getting caught in avalanches, it should make those still on the steep learning curve take a couple of steps back.  When the avalanches are 2-4’ deep and a couple hundred feet wide, often breaking out above you, well, you do the math. 


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

The avalanche danger is CONSIDERABLE on any slope over 35 degrees with fresh wind drifts.  Shallow naturals are likely with the high snowfall rates and human triggered avalanches will be probable with this kind of sensitivity.  The complexity, poor structure, and size, and additional load will keep the danger CONSIDERABLE for human triggered large avalanches into older snow on northwest through east through southeast facing slopes. 


Mountain Weather: 

Northwesterly flow-favored areas like the Cottonwoods may pick up another 3-5” this morning while outlying areas may pick up another couple before turning showery by later morning.  The northwesterly winds should be less than 20mph up high as temps drop to the mid-teens at 10,000’, and the low twenties at 8000’.  The weather will improve through the early part of the week with a couple of colder storms for late Thursday and the weekend.



Yesterday, the Wasatch Powderbird Guides didn’t get out yesterday and are unlikely to fly today.  With questions regarding their areas of operation call 742-2800.

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)


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.

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