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 31, 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 Saturday, March 31, 2007 and its 7:30 in the morning.


Current Conditions:

Skies are partly cloudy this morning, and temperatures are pleasantly cool, in the low to mid 20s at most stations. Unfortunately, the westerly winds kicked up last night, with the highest peaks averaging 40 to 45 mph, gusting to 60. Luckily, with a laminar flow, the speeds rapidly diminish with elevation, and at 10,000 the hourly averages are in the 10-20 mph range, with gusts 25 to 30. Cool temperatures and only intermittent, hit and miss sun have generally preserved the 6 to 10 of settled powder from the mid week storm. However, some sunny slopes did get crusted, and there will be new wind damage, especially at the higher elevations. But wind sheltered northerly and most easterly facing slopes should have excellent powder this morning.


Avalanche Discussion:

Only minimal avalanche activity was reported yesterday. A few very shallow soft slabs, 2 to 6" deep and a few loose sluffs were triggered by people on steep slopes. The brief appearance of the sun also managed to trigger a few damp sluffs. With stronger winds and more sun today, avalanche conditions will be trickier and more serious.


The winds have crashed the powder party, creating sensitive drifts which are most widespread on easterly facing slopes and along the higher ridgelines. Some of these drifts are large enough to knock you off balance and take you for a ride. In the wrong terrain, this could mean over a cliff, into trees, or a burial in a terrain trap such as a gully. Very careful slope cuts will be useful on many slopes, but the largest, deepest drifts should be avoided. With the potential for a crowded day in the backcountry, keep a careful eye out for people above and below you, so not to inadvertently bury anyone below you, or get buried by the party above.


Wet sluffs and slabs with daytime sun and heating are the second avalanche problem. As the snow heats from the first direct sun in days and a 10 to 15 degree jump in temperatures, expect easily triggered wet sluffs and a few damp slabs on steep, sun exposed slopes. The snow will heat up much more rapidly than one would expect, so as soon as it warms, quickly move to a cooler aspect. Any periods of high thin clouds will heat the surface snow on the northerly facing slopes, too, making it more sensitive.


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

The avalanche danger is MODERATE today on slopes steeper than about 35 degrees with recent deposits of wind drifted snow. These drifts will be most widespread on northeast through southeasterly facing slopes along the higher ridgelines. The avalanche danger will rapidly rise to MODERATE on and below steep sunny slopes with direct sun and daytime heating. Slopes less steep than about 35 degrees have a generally LOW danger.


Mountain Weather:

Skies will be mostly sunny this morning, and then cloud up again this afternoon as a weak system approaches. The northwesterly winds should gradually decrease throughout the morning, dropping into the 10 to 20 mph range and shifting to a more southwesterly direction. Temperatures will warm into the mid 40s at 8,000 and the upper 20s at 10,000. Mostly cloudy skies tonight, with a few snow flurries possible as a weak system crosses the area. A slightly stronger system will send a cold front through the area Sunday night, with a chance for a few inches of snow.



The Wasatch Powderbird Guides didnt fly yesterday and if they can fly today theyll be in Silver, Days, Cardiff, Mineral, Grizzly, White Pine, American Fork and Cascade. For more info, call 742-2800.


The Canyons Professional Ski Partol Association is hosting a fundraiser for the Friends of the Utah Avalalanche Center, Sunday April 1, at 7:30 at Side Car in Park City.


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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.