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 22, 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 22, 2007 and it’s 7:30 in the morning.


Unfortunately, it appears there is an avalanche fatality late yesterday on the southeast face of Gobbler’s Knob in Big Cottonwood Canyon.  Three people were skiing together and one man decided to break off from the others to ski more challenging terrain.  They think he went over the summit and down the East Ridge and dropped into the southeast-facing slopes on the Big Cottonwood Canyon side.  Night vision goggles indicated an avalanche with tracks going in and none coming out.  Rescuers will search the area today.  Butler Fork and Mill D trailheads will be closed this morning.


Current Conditions:

Winds blew very hard last night and they will blow even harder today.  On the most exposed peaks, they are blowing 30 gusting to 55 from the south and about half that amount on the lower ridge lines.  Temperatures remain warm in the mid 20’s on the ridge lines and near freezing at 8,000’.  Later today the winds should blow steady 50, gusting to 80.


Snow and Avalanche Discussion:

Because of the very strong winds last night, I have issued an avalanche warning for the mountains of northern and central Utah with avalanche danger rising to HIGH.  Some natural avalanches from wind loading were reported yesterday in Logan, Ogden, the Uinta Mountains and Provo.  I would expect that the Salt Lake mountains will start to natural today as well. Today will be a fairly simple scenario.  Avoid any slope steeper than 30 degrees with recent wind deposits and avoid all slopes that face the north or east quadrants of the compass steeper than about 30 degrees.

All the cagy avalanche folks I know, me included, have sworn off slopes steeper than about 33 degrees for the rest of the season.  Remember that unusual weather makes unusual avalanches.  Before the latest storms, we had the thinnest snowpack since 1977.  Unless you grew up in Colorado, most people are just not used to the extremely fragile layers of depth hoar that underlie our snowpack.  If you want to play on a steep slope, go to a ski area.  Yesterday was the 11th day in a row with unintentional human triggered avalanches and today will likely be the 12th.  Please prove me wrong.  You can see photos of all the recent activity on our photo page.  Details will be posted on the avalanche list page later this morning. 



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

An avalanche warning is in effect today and through the weekend for the mountains of northern and central Utah.  There is a HIGH danger on any slope steeper than 30 degrees with recent deposits of wind drifted snow.  There is also a HIGH danger on all slopes that face the north or east quadrants of the compass steeper than about 30 degrees.  People should stay off of and out from underneath the above-mentioned slopes.


Mountain Weather: 

Winds should blast from the south today and increase to a steady 50 gusting to 80 by this afternoon and evening.  We have a good, old-fashioned, cold front—just like the good-old-days—arriving Friday morning, which should give us a foot of new snow by Saturday morning and if we are lucky, as much as 1 ½ to 2 feet in areas favored by a northwest flow such as the Cottonwood Canyons.  Ridge top temperatures will be in the mid 20’s today and drop to near 5 degrees on Saturday morning.

We have another storm on tap for Sunday and Monday.



Yesterday, the Wasatch Powderbird Guides did not fly due to wind and most likely will not fly today with the exception of doing avalanche control for the Gobbler’s Knob rescue. 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.

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