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


Sunday, February 17, 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 17, 2008 and it’s about 7:30 am. 


Current Conditions:

A clipper to the northeast is responsible for the bump in winds and the shroud of mostly cloudy skies over the Wasatch this morning - both of which should relax and dissipate as the disturbance moves out of the area.   Temperatures are in the low teens at 10,000’ and the upper teens at 8000’, and while the highest anemometers are showing 35-45mph northwesterly winds, more representative wind speeds are 20-25mph. Snow surface conditions are a mixed bag of wind and suncrusts, with perhaps the best soft snow found on the shady protected slopes.


Snow and Avalanche Discussion:

The snow pack is mostly stable, and avalanche concerns focus on the few shallow drifts found at the highest elevations.  A couple reports came in from high on Box Elder and Thunder Bowl of some shallow pockety drifts, easily triggered in steep, east facing terrain.   Sluffing continues in the weakening surface snow, and both problems are easily mitigated with the usual bag of tricks. 


Recent clear skies and moderate to cold temperatures have promoted surface hoar development and faceting of the snow surface, both potential players when the next storms roll in around mid-week.  Apparently I was taking too long looking at some of the grains under the hand lens yesterday when a colleague asked, ‘what, are you trying to watch the facets grow on that there crystal card?’  Watching me look at crystals was like watching grass grow or paint dry.  The fact was, though, that the cloud cover was likely stalling out some of the faceting for the time being, but let’s keep an eye on these, and the myriad facet/surface hoar-crust combinations over the next few days.


If you’re traveling along the highest ridgelines today, don’t be surprised by some new shallow soft slab development from the stronger northwesterly winds.  They’ll again be pockety, less than about 6-8” deep and perhaps 30-50’ wide at most.  Potentially clearing skies will likely soften and dampen many of the south and westerly aspects.  This late window may produce some minor wet activity at the mid and low elevations in the afternoon.


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

The avalanche danger is generally LOW.  There are pockets of MODERATE danger along the upper elevation ridgelines and in open bowls where a few new and old wind drifts could be triggered on steep slopes.  It’s an outlier, but the avalanche danger may rise to MODERATE on steep sunny slopes with afternoon heating.


Mountain Weather:

With a system moving off to the northeast, skies should soon clear and it’ll be a pleasant day in the mountains.  West to northwest winds will drop down to 20-25mph, and temperatures will be in the upper teens.  High pressure builds in for Monday and Tuesday with the first in a series of westerlies due to arrive Wednesday afternoon.  

Wasatch Powderbird Guides flew in Cascade and Cardiff yesterday. The plan for today is to fly in American Fork with one ship and the other may be in Cascade or Lambs and the Sessions. They may use Grizzly Gulch or White Pine for a home run.  For more detailed information please call (801) 742-2800 or go to their daily blog.


The ‘Best of the 2007’ Banff Mountain Film Festival is coming to The University of Utah, this Tuesday, February 19th and Wednesday, February 20th at 7pm.  Films are different each night, and tickets are available at the box office, door, or REI.  For more information call 801-581-7100.


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).

Watch video tututorials and fieldwork from UAC staff at our YouTube channel.

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 Monday morning.