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, March 03, 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. Today is Saturday, March 03, 2007 and its 7:30 in the morning.

Ive issued a special avalanche advisory for the western Uinta and Wasatch mountains of northern Utah for the weekend. Recent heavy snow and strong winds have overloaded a weak snowpack, creating a CONSIDERABLE avalanche danger. Human triggered avalanches are probable on steep slopes. People should avoid steep slopes and areas below steep slopes throughout the weekend. People without good avalanche and route finding skills should avoid backcountry travel.


UDOT will conduct control work above the highway in Big Cottonwood Canyon this morning with a road closure from 7:45 to 8:15 am. The canyon road will re-open quickly pending no avalanches hitting the road which would then need to be cleared.


The Canyons snow safety workers will be doing control work in MacDonalds Draw this morning from around 8 to 10am. Backcountry travelers should avoid this area until the work is complete.


Current Conditions:

The storm cleared out mid day yesterday and gave us a view of a fairly impressive natural avalanche cycle that occurred late Thursday night into early Friday morning. Temperatures remained cold during the day and really dropped off overnight down to around zero at many locations. The winds continued to slow yesterday and are now in the 5 to 10 mph range with gusts to around 30 at the more exposed locations.


Snow and Avalanche Discussion:

Most of the natural avalanche activity was reported from the Salt Lake area mountains. Im sure as people venture out today well hear about more natural avalanches that ran in the Ogden and Provo areas as well. Significant slides that broke wide and deep were in Days Draw which is in Days Fork, the Silver Fork headwall, Mill B South, Broads Fork, and Mill D North west of Desolation Lake. UDOT control work produced large avalanches that hit the road in Little Cottonwood Canyon and a large one in Provo Canyon that didnt reach the road. The new snow was sensitive to slope cuts yesterday morning as well.


No need to get technical this morning, all you need to know is that consequences are HIGH if you trigger one of these monsters. A sunny Saturday with lots of fresh snow and a weak snowpack is a disaster waiting to happen. Dont let the lure of fresh powder override your otherwise good decision making. Whats tricky is that things are not hair trigger and you may not experience cracking or collapsing which usually is an indicator of unstable snow. This may give you false confidence and lure you into steep slopes. North through east facing slopes are still VERY suspect.


Also, were getting into the time of the season when we need to watch southerly facing slopes in regards to the sun heating them and initiating avalanches. Fresh snow, like we have right now, is very sensitive to any direct solar radiation. While temperatures will remain fairly cool today, clear skies and the sun high in the ski is enough that we need to monitor the snow on the south aspects.

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

The avalanche danger is CONSIDERABLE today on slopes of about 35 degrees and steeper especially on north through east facing aspects. Direct sun on the southerly aspects may be enough to initiate some natural avalanches. If you do not have expert level snowpack analysis skills along with advanced route finding knowledge, we urge you to stay out of the backcountry today. Again, the consequences are high if you trigger an avalanche that breaks into old snow.


Mountain Weather:

Well see mostly clear skies with a few clouds during the day today. Ridgetop temperatures will be in the upper teens to mid 20s. Things may feel warmer in the direct sun. Northerly winds will pick up slightly and blow in the 5 to 15 mph range with gusts into the 30s at the more exposed locations. A ridge of high pressure continues to move our way which will warm temperatures more on Sunday.


The Wasatch Powderbird Guides did not fly yesterday and will be in Cardiff, Days, Silver, Grizzly, White Pine, American Fork and Snake Creek today. 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 weve 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.

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