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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Wednesday, February 27, 2008  7:30 am
Good morning, this is Bruce Tremper with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is Wednesday, February 27, 2008 and it’s about 7:30 am. 


Current Conditions:

Typical for this time of year, yesterday it warmed up in a hurry and most slopes facing the south half of the compass got soggy while the northerly facing slopes remained cooler and dry, where riding conditions will remain good today. 


Snow and Avalanche Discussion:

There were a number of close calls yesterday with four significant, human triggered avalanches I heard about with a total of four caught and one injured.  In Little Cottonwood Canyon, 5 skiers were traversing a southwest slope in Toledo Bowl when they triggered a soft slab 2 feet deep and 100 feet wide, which washed three of them well down the slope and they lost much of their equipment.  Also a skier triggered a similar avalanche in Emma 2, which is south facing and several skiers triggered several wet avalanches while doing what local avalanche forecasters described as “really stupid things in the heat of the afternoon” on the steep, south-facing slopes of Superior.  In Big Cottonwood, during a filming project, a skier triggered a soft slab on east facing Cardiac Ridge, was caught and injured his elbow.  Late in the day there was another remotely triggered a large soft slab on east facing Kessler Peak (catcher’s mitt).  You can find details on our Avalanche List and on the Photos page (updated later this morning).  I also have a video of my field day yesterday.

The problem seems to be a combination of four different factors: 1) buried faceted snow on a hard, melt-freeze crust from last week, 2) graupel pooling beneath cliffs, 3) strong northwest winds two days ago drifted snow onto south and east facing slopes, and 4) intense heating from sun on the east and south facing slopes—the exact slopes loaded by the winds from the day before.  I suspect that some of these problems will linger into today, so you should continue to be very cautious of steep slopes that face the south and east quadrants of the compass.  Temperatures will be even warmer today and the sun will be equally strong, so expect continued wet sluffs in the heat of the day.  The north facing slopes seemed to stay intact quite well yesterday, which is also where you will find the best snow.


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

The avalanche danger will vary dramatically depending on aspect and timing.  Today will remain a LOW danger on sun and wind sheltered slope in the morning.  South and east facing slopes will have a MODERATE danger, with continued pockets of CONSIDERABLE as the slopes heat up in the sun. 

Mountain Weather:

Ridge top temperatures have risen to the mid 20’s this morning, which is 15 degrees warmer than yesterday morning.  The mountain valley bottoms are still quite cold this morning from a strong temperature inversion but you will quickly climb out of it as you ascend.  With calm winds and strong springtime sun, the 8,000’ temperatures should climb into the mid 40’s by mid day.  Skies will be mostly clear with some high clouds later in the day.  For the extended forecast, we will have another storm Saturday and yet another Tuesday.


Wasatch Powderbird Guides flew yesterday in Cardiff, White Pine and American Fork and today they will be in the same areas plus Mineral, Silver, White Pine and Cascade.  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).

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.

Evelyn Lees will update this advisory by 7:30 on Thursday morning.