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


Wednesday, March 14, 2007  7:30 am
Good morning, this is Evelyn Lees with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is Wednesday, March 14, 2007 and it’s 7:30 in the morning.

Current Conditions:

It’s the third morning in a row of non-freezing temperatures at many locations.  While temperatures are slightly cooler, many stations are still in the mid 30’s to low 40’s, with only a few 10,000 and 11,000’ stations managing to dip below freezing.  Overnight, intermittent bands of clouds passed over, acting like a blanket, keeping the snow surface warm.  The westerly winds are in the 10 to 15 mph range, with the highest peaks having speeds 20 to 30 mph, with gusts into the 40’s.  Any shallow surface refreeze will be very short lived.


Snow and Avalanche Discussion:

Things are definitely coming unglued with the outrageously hot temperatures, with two dangerous human triggered slides yesterday afternoon.  On south facing Flagstaff in Little Cottonwood, a skier remotely triggered two wet slab avalanches, which barely missed two people below. Check out the photos.     On a northerly facing slope off Pioneer Ridge, a party of four had a slab luckily release below them, about 4’ deep and 150’ wide.  Explosives released two slides 3 to 4’ deep on a southeasterly facing slope at 11,000’.  Reports came in of several more monster slides that probably released Monday evening including Holy Toledo, NW facing, 10,200', 3-6' deep x 600' wide; Gobblers NW face, all of skiers left of the gully, 2-3' deep, with much of crown well off ridgeline, similar to the Cabin Run avalanche from Saturday; and a slide in Bells Canyon, SW and WNW, over 6' deep and several hundred feet wide (photos on photo page); and a large tree breaking slide in Farmington Canyon. 


With another hot day in the forecast, a third morning of non freezing temperatures, and periods of high, thin clouds, expect more easily triggered wet sluffs and slabs in the backcountry.  The steep sunny slopes will be most active as the sun hits them, but all bets on timing are off.  Any shallow surface freeze this morning will be very short lived, and “corn slabs” are possible – the frozen surface snow or “crust” is sitting on wet snow, and a slab avalanche could be triggered by a person even with the surface still frozen.  Any loose sluff triggered could release a deeper, wider slab avalanche, or gouge and entrain snow as it moves down slope.  The snow on the shady, northerly facing slopes may heat today with the forecast of high, thin clouds, with sluffs and slabs possible.  If you get buried in the cement like debris of one of these wet slides, even a track-hoe can’t dig you out fast enough to save your life.


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

The danger of wet sluff and slab avalanches will rapidly rise to CONSIDERABLE again today on and below slopes of about 35 degrees and steeper, especially with daytime heating and sun.  Slides can be triggered on slopes of all aspects and elevations.  CONSIDERABLE means human triggered avalanches are likely and natural avalanches are possible, so stay off of and out from under steep slopes. 


Mountain Weather: 

It will be another uncomfortably warm day, with 8000’ temperatures near 50 and 10,000’ temperatures in the mid 30’s.  Periods of clouds and sun will alternate, before the clouds finally thicken this afternoon.  The westerly winds will generally be in the 10 to 20 mph range, with the highest peaks seeing speeds of 20 to 30 mph and gusts to 50.  Cooler air will finally arrive this evening, with 10,000’ temperatures dropping into the mid 20’s.  Rain and/or a trace of snow is possible this evening.  High pressure will rebound Friday, with temperatures jumping back up into the 30’s to 50’s through the weekend.



Yesterday, Wasatch Powderbird Guides did not fly, and if they do fly today, they will be in American Fork, and possibly Cardiff, Days and Silver.  For more info, call 742-2800.


The UAC and ACE are offering a day long Women’s Avalanche Awareness class at Alta on March 22nd covering beacon use and basic safe travel, terrain and snowpack information, for a nominal fee.  For more details go to: www.altaarts.org.


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.

Bruce Tremper will
update this advisory by 7:30 on Thursday morning, and thanks for calling.