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


Friday, February 08, 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 Friday, February 08, 2008 and it’s about 7:30 am. 


Special Announcements:

Little Cottonwood Canyon was closed overnight and they will do avalanche control this morning and try to reopen.  Big Cottonwood may be closed at times today for helicopter control work.  Provo Canyon will have intermittent closures between 10 am and noon for control work in Slide Canyon, Lost Creek and Bridal Veil.  Ice climbing is closed this morning.


Current Conditions:

The storm yesterday and overnight involved more wind than snow.  Strong winds raged much of the day and through the night, with 25 to 35 mph averages common at the mid elevations, and 45 to 60 mph across the higher peaks.  Gusts were impressive, reaching into the 60’s at mid elevations, and near 100 at the higher elevations.  Wind direction varied from the southwest to north, and is still variable across the range this morning as the winds start to ease off.  Snow amounts were modest at most location – in the 8 to 12”, and densities were higher - about 10% even before being wind packed.  After yesterday’s quick warm up, temperatures have dropped back into the single digits at 10,000’.   


Snow and Avalanche Discussion:

The classic combination of wind, dense snow and warm temperatures created very sensitive avalanche conditions yesterday.  There was natural activity on south facing slopes in Little Cottonwood and at the low elevations of Mill Creek, where two slides hit the skier road.  On steep, wind drifted slopes in the backcountry, human triggered soft slabs, up to 1.5 feet deep, were easily triggered, and cornices are breaking back further than expected.  In the Provo mountains, there was both natural activity and good results from highway control work reported on mid and low elevation paths.  From the Ogden mountains, there were reports of shooting cracks and sensitive wind drifts and sluffs easily triggered on test slopes.


Today, soft to medium hard wind drifts will still be easy to trigger on steep slopes, and in places, from adjacent low angle terrain.  The strong and shifting winds drifted the snow on a wide variety of aspects and at all elevations, so be alert for drifts even on slopes you normally consider wind sheltered.  The southeasterly through southerly facing slopes will be at least as dangerous as the shady slopes, due to the wind direction and weak layers around a wicked buried sun crust.  It is a change from our usual mind set to be worried about low elevations and southerly facing slopes.  So the key to safe travel today will be careful terrain evaluation – on all aspects and at all elevations, choose low angle slopes, and avoid travel below steep slopes.  Avoid terrain traps, such as gullies, creek bottoms, and trails below steep banks, which are common at lower elevations.  Avalanche conditions could remain tricky into the weekend, with rapid heating and sun in the forecast.


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

The avalanche danger is CONSIDERABLE today – human triggered avalanches are likely on slopes steeper than about 35 degrees, and natural avalanches are still possible, especially on slopes where the winds are continuing to drift snow or any steep slope that receives sun today.  Pockets of HIGH danger may exist in heavily wind affected terrain.  If triggered, slides could be 1 to 3 feet deep and long running.  This danger is “around the compass” - on all aspects and on all elevations, from the tops of the peaks down to low elevation terrain below 6,500’, including the foothills.  People heading into the backcountry should have excellent avalanche and terrain evaluation skills, and should avoid crossing or traveling underneath any slope approaching 35 degrees or steeper.


Mountain Weather:

Today will be mostly cloudy with isolated snow showers.  The strong northwesterly winds along the ridge tops will continue this morning, then gradually decrease this afternoon.  The highest peaks will have averages in the 40’s, with wind speeds at mid elevations in the 15 to 25 mph range, gusting to 35.  Temperatures remain in the single digits at 10,000’ and warm into the mid to upper 20’s at 8,000’.  High pressure will slowly nudge its way into the Great Basin for the weekend, bringing sunshine and rapidly warming temperatures.


There are still tickets available for the Backcountry Awareness Dinner at Snowbird this tonight, with guest speaker David Oliver Relin, author of the New York Times bestseller Three Cups of Tea.  It’s a benefit for the Utah Avalanche Center.  Click HERE for more information or you can call 933 2147 for tickets.


Yesterday, Wasatch Powderbird Guides did not fly due to weather and they will not get out today. For more detailed information please call (801) 742-2800 or go to their daily blog.

Backcountry Awareness Week is starts Friday, featuring the aforementioned, fundraising as well as 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.


For folks with an Alta pass, our partner ACE is offering an avalanche awareness class the evening of Feb 12 and 13, and ˝ day the 16th, for $25.  Pre Register at [email protected].


If you want to get this avalanche advisory e-mailed to you daily click HERE.
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 Saturday morning.