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


Wednesday, January 16, 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 Wednesday, January 16, 2008 and it’s about 7:30 am. 


Current Conditions:

Yesterday’s cold front slammed into northern Utah, with winds ripping across the higher terrain at sustained speeds of 40 to 60 mph, with gusts to 90.  Behind the front, temperatures plummeted, and are around -10 degrees Fahrenheit (-23 degrees C) this morning at the mid and upper elevations.  Fortunately, the northerly winds are less than 15 mph at all but a few of the highest peaks.  The mountains picked up 1 to 5” of very low density snow.  The snow surface is wind damaged on some exposed slopes and crusted on southerly facing slopes, while other slopes have reasonably soft wind blown powder. 


Avalanche Discussion:

Yesterday’s reported avalanche activity was of easily triggered shallow, soft wind drifts, with one natural soft slab reported off a very windy, high elevation ridgeline.  Sluffing of the surface snow was still occurring on steep slopes.


Yesterday’s strong winds created a haze of snow obscuring the peaks even after the skies cleared.  The strong winds blew from a southwesterly through northwesterly direction, and drifted snow at all elevations and on a variety of aspects.  Wind video clip!  In places, the snow along the ridgelines was being eroded, and I could watch the winds pushing the snow well down slope.  So in addition to the typical drifting along the ridgelines, snow will be loaded well off the ridges.  Don’t be surprised to find sensitive drifts several turns into a slope, at a mid-slope breakovers, or cross loaded onto a surprising aspect.  Some of these drifts may be sitting on weak near surface facets or surface hoar that wasn’t destroyed by the winds, and wind drifts on these layers will be more sensitive and possible triggered from a distance.  Also, keep in the back of your mind that faceted snow does exist near the ground, and deep slides could still be triggered in very isolated places with a thin snow pack.


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

The avalanche danger is MODERATE on steep slopes with recent drifts of wind blown snow, which will be found on a variety of aspects and elevations due to yesterday’s high wind speeds.  Sensitive wind drifts are both along the ridgelines, and well off ridges, where snow is drifted around terrain features such as rocks, gully walls and slope breakovers.  Also be prepared for sluffing of the surface snow in steep terrain.


Mountain Weather:

Frostbite city today, with the cold northerly flow keeping temperatures in the single digits at 8,000’ and below zero at 10,000’.  Even with the northerly winds generally less than 15 mph, the wind chill will make it feel like it’s in the negative teens and 20’s.  The highest exposed peaks could have occasional gusts into the 30’s.  Skies will be partly cloudy today, with a few morning snow flurries possible.  Clouds will increase again tonight, with a slight chance for a few isolated snow showers.  For the rest of the week, temperatures will slowly warm, and the next chance for snow is Sunday night into Monday.

The Wasatch Powderbird Guides did not fly yesterday due to weather.  Today, weather permitting, they’ll be in
White Pine, Cardiff, Days, Silver, Grizzly, American Fork, the Bountiful Sessions, and Lambs Canyon. For more information, call them at 801-742-2800, or go to their daily blog, often updated the evening.

The free avalanche beacon parks are up and running at Solitude, Snowbird and the Canyons.  They’re great places to practice by yourself or with friends.


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


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).

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.

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.

Bruce Tremper will update this advisory by 7:30 on Thursday morning.