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


Thursday, January 24, 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 24, 2008 and its about 7:30 am.


Current Conditions:

Yesterday up above the valley fog, we had bluebird, clear skies with about a foot of very nice powder. The slopes that face the south half of the compass are sun crusted. This morning, we have valley fog once again with ridgetop-level clouds. Temperatures are around 15 degrees and the southwest ridge top winds have picked up to 15 mph and 20 mph on the highest peaks from the south. A weak system later today and Friday will give us light snow showers this afternoon through Friday, which probably wont add up to more than about 5 inches.


Avalanche Discussion:

Yesterday there was no significant avalanche activity despite people aggressively tracking up most slopes. Skiers triggered some minor soft slabs high in Cardiac Bowl along the ridge but otherwise everything stayed in place quite well.


Looking at the weather forecast, the mountains will almost certainly roar with significant avalanche activity over the next week starting on Sunday. When a big storm approaches, avalanche geeks like us carefully map out the present snow surface conditions because the layers on the surface today will become the weak layer responsible for avalanches when we slap a slab of new snow on top of them. Potential weak layers are much easier to see before they get buried than afterwards. The clear skies and cold temperatures over the past couple days created widespread areas of weak, near-surface faceted snow and surface hoar on the snow surface and it will not take too much to overload this very weak snow. The southerly facing slopes got cooked down these past couple days, so they may not have as much weak, surface snow, they do have a slick sun crust, which may also produce future avalanches, but probably will not last as long.

I suspect that the weak storm later today and Friday will not add enough weight to overload these layers but the Sunday-Monday storm definitely will. Today with the winds increasing to 20 mph from the south along the ridges, you will need to watch for the usual wind slab development mostly along the upper elevation ridges. Out of the wind loaded areas, if we get more than 5 inches of snow or if the snow is denser than we expect, then you will need to watch for soft slabs on the aforementioned, weak snow surface.

Finally, if you plan to get out this weekend, remember that we expect a high avalanche danger for Sunday and Monday from a very powerful storm with high winds and heavy snow.


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

The avalanche danger is mostly LOW this morning and will rise to MODERATE on steep slopes with recent deposits of wind drifted snow this afternoon and on Friday. For the extended outlook, expect HIGH avalanche danger on Sunday and Monday.


Mountain Weather:

We will have a weak disturbance later today and on Friday, which will bring about 5 inches of new snow with 20 mph ridge top winds from the south and southwest. Today, expect increasing and lowering clouds with ridge top temperatures near the mid teens and 8,000 temperatures around 25 degrees.

Extended forecast:
The big news is a potentially very powerful storm for Sunday and Monday. Saturday should be the warm and calm before the storm with near freezing temperatures and sunny skies. Sunday, we will have a powerful blast of tropical moisture from the southwest with ridge top winds of 60 mph with much higher gusts, followed by a strong cold front from the northwest on Monday. Then, the rest of the week looks very snowy as well with several more snow storms from the west and northwest.


Wasatch Powderbird Guides flew in Mineral, Cardiff, Days and American Fork. If they can get out today, they will be in the same locations, plus Silver Fork. . For more information, call them at 801-742-2800, or go to their daily blog.

Tonight, there will be a cool, panel discussion on risk and decision making in outdoor activities, which will include Ian McCammon, an expert on human factors in avalanche accidents as well as myself and several others. 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.

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