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


Monday, January 28, 2008  7:30 am
Good morning, this is Drew Hardesty with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is Monday, January 28, 2008 and it’s about 7:30 am. 


Special Announcement:

A Special Avalanche Advisory is in effect for the mountains of northern Utah.  Strong winds and heavy snowfall will create dangerous avalanches in the higher elevations and the danger is expected to reach HIGH. 


An Avalanche Warning continues for the Western Uintas.  Large, deadly avalanches may be triggered to the ground in steep terrain. 


Little Cottonwood Canyon will close this morning at 9AM for avalanche control work.  Reopening time is unknown with Interlodge restrictions possible and to be announced.


Current Conditions:

6-8” of mostly graupel has fallen in the Cottonwoods since about midnight, with 2-4” of the rimed crystals falling in the Park City and Ogden area mountains.  Temps are in the upper teens and low twenties.  The winds continue to punish the Wasatch with hourly averages of 30-50mph with some gusts up and over 100mph in the most exposed locations.  Even generally more protected anemometers have wind gusts into the 40’s and 50’s.  Only the most penitent were out yesterday, explaining the dearth of observations, though the one we heard about was significant. 


Avalanche Discussion:

In the upper reaches of Porter Fork of Mill Creek, an intentional cornice drop west of Mt. Raymond pulled out a new wind drift 1-2’ deep and 50’ wide on a steep north facing slope at 9200’.  The initial slide then sympathetic’d out another avalanche on a west facing slope, a deeper slide of unknown depth 150’ away, with the debris taking out the skin track.  Other new snow naturals were observed in the area with debris depths of up to 3’.  Warm temperatures produced some wet loose sluffs in the previously cold dry snow at the lower elevations on the shady aspects, and these may still be sensitive this morning until the cold front arrives.


It will be a day with increasing avalanche danger.  Heavy snowfall expected with the late morning cold front along with sustained moderate to strong veering winds should be enough to produce storm snow avalanching on many steep mid and upper elevation slopes, regardless of aspect.  The winds will continue to produce widespread drifting in the upper starting zones and along the lee of crossloaded slopes.  All of these will blanket yesterday’s soft and hard drifts, and it’s likely that some avalanches today will step down below those drifts and even into faceted snow up to a foot deep, again, on a variety of aspects.  Collapse failure of sun or hard wind crusts may trigger avalanches at a distance, breaking out wider than expected.


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

The danger is expected to rise to HIGH with heavy snowfall and continued moderate to strong westerly winds.  Outside of the Tri-Canyons, the danger will rise to CONSIDERABLE.  Natural and human triggered avalanches will be likely in steep wind loaded terrain.  Those without excellent avalanche skills should stay off of and out from underneath steep slopes at the mid and upper elevations.  Those with good avalanche skills should exercise extreme caution. 


Mountain Weather:

Heavy snowfall should accompany the cold front, expected some time before noon.  Areas favored by a west to northwest flow could see up to 12-16” by late tonight.  The southwesterly winds will continue to howl prior to the front, and remain energetic from the northwest in the 25-35mph range post frontal.  Temps will plummet to near zero by tonight.  An active week ahead has another Pacific storm pushing through Tuesday night with another on its heels on Friday. 


Yesterday, the
Wasatch Powderbird Guides were grounded due to the strong winds.  They’ll remain grounded again today.  For more information, call them at 801-742-2800, or go to their daily blog.

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.

I will update this advisory by 7:30 on Tuesday morning.