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


Friday, December 14, 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 Friday, December 14, 2007 and it’s about 7:30 am.


Current Conditions:

Temperatures are again in the single digits along the ridges with northwest winds in the 5 to 10 mph range gusting into the 20s at the more exposed locations.  A trace to a few inches of snow fell in the last 24 hours with upper Little Cottonwood receiving 5” of very light density snow.


Avalanche Discussion:

There were two close calls in separate avalanche accidents in the backcountry near Brighton on Thursday.  Two people were caught and carried in separate slides.  One was mostly buried and the other was injured after colliding with trees during the avalanche.  One accident occurred in the Hidden Canyon area just north of Brighton and the other occurred in the notorious Pioneer Ridge area south of Brighton.  These accidents are common in areas adjacent to ski resorts.  It is easy for people to treat these areas as an extension of the ski areas.  Make no mistake that you are entering the backcountry when you pass the resort boundaries and you must act accordingly.


Obviously, our weak underlying snow structure is not gaining strength rapidly.  Aside from the two human triggered avalanches, there are other indicators to a poor snowpack structure.  Cracking and collapsing continue to be reported almost daily.  Digging with your hands quickly reveals the quite weak sugary snow near the ground.  There’s no mystery here and the pattern is obvious.  We need to give the upper elevation northerly aspects due respect until conditions change.  When will that happen?  We’ll need more snow and some time after that for the pack to adjust.  We’ll feel better when the cracking and collapsing subside and we see a significant change in the hand hardness of the faceted crystals.  Until then, east, west and southerly aspects are a much safer bet.


Taking a quick look at the top of the snowpack, many observers have noted some faceting or weakening of the snow surface along with a little surface hoar formation.  Sluffing of this snow can be initiated on steeper slopes.  We’ll monitor the weakening snow surface and take it into account before the next significant snowfall.   The new snow from last night and this morning won’t change avalanche conditions much aside from increasing the size of the loose snow sluffs somewhat.


Bottom Line:

The avalanche danger is MODERATE on steep northwest, north and northeasterly facing slopes above about 9,000’ in the Salt Lake, Park City and Provo area mountains. MODERATE means human triggered avalanches are possible.  The avalanche danger is lower in the Ogden area mountains.


Mountain Weather: 

We’ll see a few flurries still this morning with a trace to a few inches of additional accumulation.  Partly cloudy skies will linger through the weekend with a small chance for snow flurries.  Temperatures will remain cold today in the single digits to mid teens and gradually warm over the next few days.  Winds will be from the northwest in the 5 to 15 mph range switching to a more westerly direction and increasing slightly over the weekend.  A stronger storm is advertised for next Wednesday into Thursday.


For an avalanche education class list, click HERE.  

If you want to get this avalanche advisory e-mailed to you daily click

The UAC has temporary job openings for doing avalanche outreach in more rural areas.
  Click HERE for info.

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 our classic text advisory click HERE.

If you’re getting out and see anything we should know about please let us know.  You can leave a message 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.

Evelyn Lees
will update this advisory by 7:30 Saturday morning.