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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Sunday, February 03, 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 Sunday, February 03, 2008 and it’s about 7:30 am. 




Current Conditions:

The current powerful storm didn’t knock on the door, rather it kicked it in.  Strong southerly winds of 40-60mph and gusts to 75 are accompanying snowfall rates of 1-2”/hour, though the howling winds are making it difficult for entirely accurate readings.  It looks like the Logan and Ogden area mountains have received 6-8”, the Park City and Cottonwood areas 8-12”, and the Provo areas 2-3”.  Temps are in the mid to upper teens.  Up to 2’ of snow or more is expected in favored areas today into tonight.   

Snow and Avalanche Discussion:

Wild and varied describes the avalanche activity in the central Wasatch yesterday.  We didn’t hear of much to the north or south, but let’s start with the natural activity.  Beyond the impressive natural sluffing in areas where no slabs have developed, four east facing bowls north of the Park City ski areas at elevation 9000’ naturalled during the height of solar warming yesterday, pulling out about a foot deep and 100’ wide, with the widest, at what we call No-No-Name 300’ wide.  Likely a slow-to-heal intra storm weakness, rimed stellars – as evidenced from other, representative snow pits.  At least 4 people went for rides in ‘new-snow’ avalanches that they triggered, though no one was hurt.  These occurred in upper north-facing Days Fork, east off the Clayton Peak on a steep northwest facing slope, south-facing Emma Ridge above LCC, and on a steep east facing pocket above the Twin Lakes.  Again, lingering intra-storm weaknesses and lingering wind drifts are to blame.  We’re not done.  At least two slides pulled out into old, faceted snow from October, the first a cornice-induced repeater in upper north facing West Bowl of Silver Fork in a thin, shallow rocky spot, and something similar over in north facing Argenta above Big Cottonwood.  Other than a number of other small pockets, the most impressive was a 300’ wide remotely triggered avalanche into Snake Creek from skiers walking the ridge above.  The slide was on a southeast facing slope at 9000’.  Lingering facet/crust combinations can likely be the blame for this – a structure that is found in isolated, rather than widespread areas.


All this, and now we add heavy snowfall and strong winds. 


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

The avalanche danger is rapidly rising to HIGH this morning on all steep wind affected terrain that receives the most snow.  Natural and human triggered avalanches are expected on a variety of aspects, with some stepping down to 3’ or deeper in selected areas.


Mountain Weather:

Heavy snowfall is expected throughout much of the day.  The southerly winds are expected to remain strong until they gradually lose steam while veering to the northeast in the later afternoon.  Temps will drop to the low teens.  Snow is expected overnight, with a quick break likely Tuesday ahead of the next vigorous storm expected on Wednesday.  Hold on to your hats.


Wasatch Powderbird Guides flew in Days, Cardiff, White Pine, AF, and Lambs.  They won’t get out today. For more detailed information please call (801) 742-2800 or go to their daily blog.

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 Monday morning.