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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Monday, February 25, 2008  7:30 am
Good morning, this is Brett Kobernik with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is Monday, February 25, 2008 and it’s about 7:30 am. 


Current Conditions:

News today is that Alta hit 500” total snowfall for the season with this storm.  This has happened in February 4 times in 27 years.  Titus Case with Alta snow safety gave us that tid-bit, thanks Titus, you and Howie are some of the “nerdiest” snow nerds and that’s a compliment.  I guess it’s all just icing on the cake from here on out but I like A LOT of icing so I hope it keeps it coming.  This storm has produced 12 to 16 inches of snow with 1.5 to 2 inches of water weight over the last 24 hours.  Graupel early on attributed to some of the higher water content.  Winds were right on key yesterday with strong gusts along the ridges but have been slowing especially at the mid and lower elevations.  Terrain features channeled winds all different directions and produced drifts on many aspects.  Temperatures are mild in the mid to upper 20s in the 7 to 8000 foot range and in the teens at the higher locations.


Snow and Avalanche Discussion:

Wind drifting highlighted yesterday’s avalanche activity with cracking, collapsing and small human triggered pockets reported from the few nitwits that were foolish enough to be out walking around, myself one of them.  The weakness with these was either within the lighter density snow from Friday or within the storm snow which was falling during the day on Sunday.  There was one report of a natural avalanche that occurred at low elevation in Ogden Canyon which was probably a result of warm temperatures, damp snow and rain falling on it.  Reportedly, it produced a decent debris pile.


While the period for natural avalanche activity due to winds was probably late yesterday and a thing of the past now, I’d expect that human triggered avalanches are still possible today and likely with well placed slope cuts in the fresh drifts.  The weakness will again be either within the new snow or into Fridays layer which will produce a larger slide.  A “punchy” or upside down feel to the snow should clue you in that you’ve found a wind slab.  These may be stiff enough along the higher elevations that you may not notice them under the newest snow so pay close attention to what’s been covered up.  We’re expecting steady light snow this morning but any spike in snowfall rates can instantly bump up the danger and produce natural activity.  Often, gustier winds accompany periods of heavy snowfall which also is a contributor.


Temperatures are quite mild at lower elevations keeping the snowpack damp there.  Rain may again fall on the snow below around 5500 or 6000 feet.  Also, the sun may attempt an assault on the snow this afternoon.  Fresh snow is easy prey for the sun and succumbs fast becoming unstable rapidly.  All these factors need to be taken into account as we may see wet avalanche activity at lower elevations and on southerly facing slopes today.


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

Out of the wind affected terrain and out of the sun most slopes have a MODERATE avalanche danger.  Be careful with these danger ratings, remember the devil is in the details.  I’d be surprised not to see at least some human triggered wind slabs along the ridges today and with the possibility of some natural wet avalanche activity this puts us just into the CONSIDERABLE danger rating on the described terrain.  This hazard exists in wind affected areas for dry wind slabs as well as at lower elevations and southerly facing slopes for wet activity. 


Mountain Weather:

An impulse should produce some snow this morning throughout the Wasatch.  It will be lighter density then yesterday’s snow with 3 to 6 inches expected and around a quarter inch of water.  Winds should continue to decrease as the morning progresses and remain from a northwesterly direction.  Snow tapers off mid day when the sun may peek through.  Another impulse may produce a bit more snow late this afternoon.  Temperatures will make it into the 30s at the 8000 foot level and upper 20s along the ridges.  High pressure moves in for Tuesday and Wednesday.


Wasatch Powderbird Guides did not fly yesterday due to weather and probably won’t get out today but will attempt if weather permits.  For more detailed information please call (801) 742-2800 or go to their daily blog.


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).

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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 Tuesday morning.