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, January 12, 2008  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, January 12, 2008 and it’s about 7:30 am. 


Current Conditions:

Snow totals from the latest weather disturbance that started early Thursday morning are 5 to 10 inches in Big Cottonwood Canyon, the Ogden mountains, and on the Park City side, with the Provo mountains less than 6”.  Upper Little Cottonwood managed to squeeze 16 inches of snow out of the clouds, with a water content of 1¼ inches.  This morning, the northwesterly winds have decreased significantly from yesterday’s higher speeds, and are less than 15 mph at all but the highest peaks, where 20 to 30 mph speeds remain.  Temperatures are in the single digits to low teens at 10,000’.  There is powder as far as the eye can see on all aspects and elevations, with some wind damage in exposed terrain.  Most of the density inversions within the recent snow should have settled out.

Avalanche Discussion:

The only reports of avalanche activity yesterday were within the new snow – sluffs, soft slabs and sensitive, but shallow, soft wind drifts that were easily triggered on steep slopes.  There are a few PHOTOS and SNOWPITS of interest, and a short video observation.


Today, these wind drifts and layers within the upper few feet of the snow pack will continue to be the most active.  The various layers of graupel and light density snow from the past few days could still be sensitive on steep slopes, but should steadily strengthen out of wind affected terrain.  Cornices are large, and could break back further than expected.  In the bigger picture, in many mountain locations there has been daily snowfall for the past 8 days, so caution is advised simply due to the large amount of water weight – the snowpack still needs some time to adjust.  Areas where the graupel has pooled, such as at cliff bases, have extra weight, and it’s not a good time to hit them hard. 


The parade of deep, hard slab avalanches has slowed down this week as the weak facets near the ground become more deeply buried and harder to trigger.  But there remain isolated places where a person could trigger a deep, dangerous avalanche, most likely on a steep slope with a thin snowpack, especially a slope facing northwest through southeast.


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

The avalanche danger is MODERATE on slopes steeper than about 35 degrees, which need to be evaluated for weaknesses within the upper few feet of the snow and any fresh wind drifts, which should be avoided.  These problems will be most widespread in exposed upper elevation terrain, along ridgelines and in the upper Cottonwoods, which received the most snow. There also remains a MODERATE danger for triggering a deep, dangerous slide that could break out near the ground.  After 8 days of snow, please use caution today!


Mountain Weather: 

A final weak system will keep clouds over northern Utah today, with light snow possible this morning and again tonight, producing a few inches of fluff.  The northwesterly winds will be more relaxed today, generally less than 15 mph, with only the highest terrain having average speeds up to 30 mph, with gusts in the 40’s.  Temperatures will reach the upper teens at 10,000’ and mid 20’s at 8,000’.  High pressure will move in Sunday afternoon, with temperatures warming significantly in the mountains on Monday.

The Wasatch Powderbird Guides didn’t fly yesterday due to weather, and today if they can fly they will be in Cardiff, Silver, Days, Grizzly, American Fork, and may return through White Pine.  For more information, call them at 801-742-2800.

The avalanche beacon parks are up and running at Solitude, Snowbird and Canyons. 

Great places to practice by your self or with friends.


The UAC depends on contributions from users like you to support our work.  To find out more about how you can support our efforts to continue providing the avalanche forecasting and education that you expect please visit our Friends page.


UDOT highway avalanche control work info can be found by calling (801) 975-4838.

Our statewide tollfree line is 1-888-999-4019 (early morning, option 8).

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.

Drew Hardesty will update this advisory by 7:30 on Sunday morning.