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 23, 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 23, 2008 and it’s about 7:30 am. 


Current Conditions:

Under clear skies, temperatures have dropped into the single digits at most elevations this morning.  The northwesterly winds are generally less than 15 mph, and even the highest peaks have speeds less than 25 mph.  Yesterday, a few locations received an additional 1 to 3 inches of snow from instability showers.  Abundant powder remains on most aspects and elevations, providing the classic Utah powder experience, with only a few of the southerly facing slopes slightly sun crusted.


Avalanche Discussion:

Yesterday, loose sluffs remained easy to trigger on steep slopes and one person unintentionally triggered a small soft slab about 2 feet deep by 40’ wide on north facing Scotties in Little Cottonwood.  Explosive testing in the backcountry released one hard slab in Mineral Fork, averaging 2-3’ deep by 150’ wide.  With good visibility, additional loose sluff and soft slab activity from Monday was observed, especially on slopes that were wind loaded or received more than a foot of snow.


Today, loose sluffs will continue to be easy to trigger.  Cold temperatures and clear skies have kept the snow on shady slopes loose, and these sluffs will large enough to catch and carry a person, and could send you down a chute or off a cliff.  These sluffs will be largest in areas that received a foot or more of snow.  This includes the lower elevations, which are developing a layered snowpack, including facet and crust layers on some slopes.  The hard slab avalanche in Mineral Fork indicates there are still shallow snowpack areas with weak snow near the ground, and isolated places exist where a person might be able to trigger a larger avalanche. 


Regardless of the heart of winter date and single digit temperatures, I expect the direct sun and warming temperatures will make it easy to trigger wet loose avalanches as the day heats up.  So be prepared for sensitive, easily triggered sluffs on steep sunny slopes, which may be far running and pile up decent debris piles, especially in terrain traps such as gullies.


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

The avalanche danger is MODERATE on steep slopes, with both dry loose sluffs and wet sluffs possible.  The wet loose sluffs will become more widespread on steep sunny slopes as the day heats up.    Avalanches will be largest in areas that received a foot or more of snow from the last storm, which include elevations below 7,000’. 


Mountain Weather:

High pressure is attempting to create a combination that’s been rare this month - clear skies and warm temperatures.  Temperatures will reach mid 20’s at 8,000’ and upper teens at 10,000’.  The west to southwest winds will be light, generally in the 5 to 10 mph range.  Tomorrow, the southwesterly winds will increase ahead of the next storm, which should deliver a foot or more of fresh powder by Friday morning.  After a break Saturday, a substantial storm is in the forecast for Sunday into Monday, with very strong winds and heavy snow possible.


Wasatch Powderbird Guides flew in American Fork, Cardiff, Days, and the Emma ridges.  Today they will be in Cardiff, Days, Silver, Mineral, Grizzly, American Fork and possible Cascade. For more information, 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 on KCPW.  Click HERE for info.

The second annual avalanche awareness snowmobile ride is Saturday, February 2nd and proceeds will help support snowmobile specific avalanche awareness projects.  Details can be found at http://www.avarides.com/


Backcountry Awareness Week is February 8-10th, featuring a Friday night fundraising dinner with guest speaker David Oliver Relin, author of the New York Times bestseller Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace...One School at a Time and avalanche awareness clinics on Saturday and Sunday, all held at Snowbird.  For more information, call 933-2147 or go to http://www.avalanche.org/~uac/fuac-events.htm.

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 see any avalanches or interesting snow conditions, please leave us 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.