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


Tuesday, January 08, 2008  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 Tuesday, January 08, 2008 and it’s about 7:30 am. 


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Current Conditions:

Under partly cloudy skies, temperatures again plummeted to the single digits at most mountain locations.  Winds are light from a westerly direction.  Yesterday afternoon’s weather disturbance produced a few inches of snow in the Cottonwoods, Park City Ridgeline and Provo mountains with the Ogden mountains doing slightly better.


Avalanche Discussion:

Control results continued to produce deep slab avalanches at the ski resorts on Monday.  One of our observers experienced a large collapse in the East Bowl of Silver Fork however no avalanche released.  It sounds like the failure was into older faceted snow.  Also, a group produced a massive avalanche in upper north facing Days Fork after dropping a few cornices.  The second large cornice triggered an avalanche around 3 feet deep and 500 to possibly over 1000 feet wide.  This bent over trees and completely covered the runout zone below.  This avalanche ran over an area that many people consider to be out of the way where they regroup at the bottom of the slope.  It also took out the area where an up-track is being used more and more.  This area has avalanched earlier in the season making this a repeater slide.  Go to our photos page for some images.


I’d like to point out a couple of things here to take into consideration.  This is the site of countless close calls and accidents including fatalities.  However, people get complacent with this area because of its ease of access and the frequency it gets skied.  The up track that is constantly put in is not in a safe area.  Many people stand directly in the run out zone at the bottom of this slope which is not safe either.  In my opinion, it is just chance that this slope wasn’t littered with people skiing, climbing and standing at the bottom when the slide ran.  At least one observer considered skiing this slope yesterday and it’s my bet he wasn’t alone with this thought.


For today, the biggest concern is deep slab avalanches.  These are not hair trigger.  There are no obvious signs of instability aside from examining the weak layers in the snowpack.  I don’t think stability tests on these weak layers are worth much with these conditions.  Unless you are an expert at identifying weak layers and determining slab strength over these weak layers while taking into account spatial variability, you have no business being on these steep slopes.  Steep slopes just outside of the ski area boundaries are not exempt.  On the north facing slopes, faceted snow from October is the problem.  On east, west and south facing slopes, snow from late November and early December has become faceted especially in areas that were previously shallow.  There is now a significant slab over this junk which we must pay attention to.


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

The avalanche danger is MODERATE for deep slab avalanches.  These are possible on a variety of aspects and mainly above around 8500 or 9000 feet in elevation.  Safe travel protocol needs to be followed as consequences may be severe.  Keep in mind the avalanche danger will be on the rise later today into Wednesday.


Mountain Weather: 

We’ll see partly cloudy skies with increasing clouds as the next storm system moves in.  Ridgetop temperatures will climb into the teens and low 20s with southwest winds increasing through the day.  Westerly flow will produce a foot or so of snow tonight into Wednesday for much of the Central Wasatch.  There’s another chance for snow on Thursday with high pressure in line for the weekend.


The Wasatch Powderbird Guides were in American Fork canyon on Monday and will be in Cardiff, Days, Silver, Grizzly and American Fork today.  For more information, call them at 801-742-2800.

Solitude’s beacon park is now up and running, and ready for use.  It’s FREE and located just off the northwest corner of the lower lot.


For an avalanche education class list, updated 12/22/07, click HERE.

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

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 on Wednesday morning.