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


Sunday, December 16, 2007  7:30 am
Good morning, this is Drew Hardesty with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is Sunday, December 16, 2007 and it’s about 7:30 am.


Current Conditions:

Warm air streaming in from the southwest has pushed mountain temperatures to their 24 hour highs this morning, with many stations jumping 10 to even 25 degrees.  Skies are opening and we’ll have clear and sunny skies along with moderate west to southwest winds along the ridgetops.  Riding conditions remain excellent in the wind and sun sheltered areas, but the gusty winds stiffened up the snow surfaces in much of the high exposed terrain. 


Avalanche Discussion:

Even from the valley bottoms you could see a few plumes off the highest peaks, as for a few hours anyway, the westerly winds blew 20-30mph, gusting to near 40.  The speeds were more pronounced and consistent north of I-80, as observers to the north triggered a few drifts a foot deep compared to about half that in the Salt Lake mountains.  In any event, if you’re traveling in the more exposed terrain, look for some rounded pillows in the upper parts of the starting zones.  I don’t expect them to be too deep or widespread, but if you’re auditioning for the next Steep film, you probably won’t get the job if you tomahawk down the chute through unforgiving terrain.  Some of these wind skins likely drifted on to some rapidly weakening surface snow, and may be touchier, or more sensitive than they otherwise would be. 


What else?  We didn’t hear about any avalanches into old snow, but collapsing of the weak underlying faceted snow continues to be reported in the mid and upper elevation sheltered aspects.  With “the obvious clues” becoming less obvious, you’ll need to do lots of poking around in the snow and performing lots of tests if you want to play on the steep northerly slopes.  But, with excellent riding conditions and good stability on the east and west aspects, there’s little reason to push your luck.


Bottom Line:

The avalanche danger remains MODERATE on steep northerly facing slopes above about 9,000’ as the snowpack remains tender in these areas.  The danger of triggering wind drifts up to a foot deep is also MODERATE, and may be more widespread in the Ogden and Logan area mountains.


Mountain Weather: 

High pressure builds in briefly today ahead of what appears to be a series of increasingly potent storms through the week.  Temperatures will be in the low thirties and twenties at 8 and 10,000’; winds will be from the west to southwest at 15-20mph.  Should be a good day to get out in the mountains.


The Wasatch Powderbird Guides will be not be flying today.


For an avalanche education class list, click HERE.  

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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.

will update this advisory by 7:30 Monday morning.