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.

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Thursday, January 17, 2008  7:30 am
Good morning, this is Bruce Tremper with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is Thursday, January 17, 2008 and it’s about 7:30 am. 


Current Conditions:

The word for the day is COLD once again.  Yesterday was almost cold enough to remind me of my native state of Montana.  I say almost because it was only 10 below and the wind wasn’t even blowing.  It even barely warmed above zero during the day.  Luxury.  This morning, it has warmed up to a balmy 3 below but at least the winds have picked up to 10-20 mph along the ridges.  The snow surface is about 6 inches of cold, light fluff on a supportable base and dust on crust in the upper elevation wind exposed slopes.  We’re expecting a daytime high of 10 degrees at 8,000’ with some very light snow showers.


Avalanche Discussion:

There wasn’t much avalanche activity yesterday from the backcountry—just a few localized soft slabs along the highest ridges.  Explosives control work at the resorts produced just a few, localized, small soft and hard slabs left over from the strong winds a couple days ago.  The cold temperatures have the added benefit of making any lingering instabilities stiff and stubborn.

All of our snow pits in the Wasatch Range are showing a deep and mostly stable snowpack.  Our main concern the future because these cold temperatures and clear skies are creating faceted snow on the surface along with surface hoar (frost).  After we bury these layers in future storms, they will represent a persistent weak layer. (Here is a quick cornice-cutting tutorial from Mineral Fork yesterday.)


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

The avalanche danger is mostly LOW with isolated pockets of MODERATE on steep slopes with recent drifts of wind blown snow.  There is also some minor sluffing of the surface snow in steep terrain.


Mountain Weather:

Bring a down parka, face mask, mittens and a thermos because today will be the last chance to enjoy some cold weather before it slowly warms up over the next several days.  Today the temperature should warm to around zero on the ridge tops with a 10-20 mph wind from the north.  Down at 8,000’ the temperature should stagger up to 10 degrees.  There are a few stratus clouds streaming down from the north, which will give us scattered, mountaintop clouds again today and we will get some periods with light snow showers that probably won’t add up to much.

Then on Friday, temperatures will be slightly warmer and may actually get into the teens and on Saturday slightly warmer again into the mid to upper teens.  There is a large closed low that will form out of this cold, northerly flow on Sunday, which will give us some snow showers.  It will likely produce significant snow in Nevada, southern Utah and Arizona but it probably won’t do much for us.  The very extended forecast calls for a return to westerly storms across the northern U.S.

For information on the schedule of the Wasatch Powerbird Guides, call them at 801-742-2800, or go to their daily blog.

On Thursday, January 24th, there will be a panel discussion on risk and decision making in outdoor activities, which should be very interesting.  It will be at the Salt Lake Downtown Library at 7:00 pm and it will also be broadcast on KCPW.

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

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.

Brett Kobernik will update this advisory by 7:30 on Friday morning.