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, March 02, 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, March 02, 2008 and it’s about 7:30 am. 


Current Conditions:

“Warm and windy” euphemistically described the conditions prior to yesterday afternoon’s cold front, which crashed down with a vengeance.  It delivered the full package of plummeting temps, strong winds, and heavy snowfall and the Cottonwoods, receiving the lions’ share, picked up 14-16” of 7-8% snow.  The Ogden and Provo mountains picked up 3-5” with the Park City mountains coming in with about 8-10” of the ‘right side up snow’.  The winds are the spoiler, as they remained strong with the wind shift, and are still blowing 20-30mph with occasional gusts to 60.  Temperatures have dropped some 25 degrees and are in the single digits at and above 10,000’ and in the mid-teens at most of the trailheads.  Seems like a no-brainer for route selection today – the best turns will be found in the sheltered slopes with the danger more pronounced at the higher elevations.


Snow and Avalanche Discussion:

A ski party descending west off the Benson-Reed ridgeline in mid-BCC reported two naturals across the drainage in upper northeast George’s Bowl and Kessler Peak, pulling out perhaps up to 10” deep and 100’ or so wide.  Others found increasingly harder to trigger wind drifts up to 8” deep in high, steep wind loaded terrain prior to frontal passage. 


It’s a new ballgame.  Reckless abandon, like that which we’ve seen in the past week, will find folks going for rides in avalanches in steep wind loaded terrain today.  It’s likely that the new snow came in and bonded well to the warming snow surfaces, but the winds will have created a number of soft and hard slabs in lee and cross-loaded slopes.  You’ll want to jump on a number of test slopes, and pull out the shovel and saw to look for potential soft slabs sitting over harder drifts which may still come unglued in the right spot.  The harder slabs fall into more of the “unmanageable” category where they’re shy to pull out with a ski/slope cut.  They’ll be more the exception than the rule, but the watch for cracking in the softer, pillowy, drifted snow. 


Bottom Line for the Salt Lake and Park City mountains:

As the Central Wasatch received significantly more snow than the outlying areas, the danger will be CONSIDERABLE on steep wind drifted terrain, where it is likely more pronounced on the southerly and easterly aspects at the mid and upper elevations.  After a few days of benign conditions, you’ll need to have your ‘game-on’ mindset if you’re traveling in avalanche terrain.  Excellent route-finding, well placed slope cuts and cornice drops, and savvy travel protocol will go a long way in mitigating some of the hazard for today.  Out of wind affected terrain on slopes less steep than 30 degrees, the danger is generally LOW. 


Bottom Line for the Provo and Ogden area mountains:

The avalanche danger is MODERATE for steep wind drifted terrain.  Human triggered avalanches of up to a foot are possible in the steepest most wind exposed terrain.


Mountain Weather:

Instability showers on a gusty northerly flow will be the main feature this morning, with single digit temps above 9000’.  Warming aloft will cap the instability by the afternoon, and skies will be partly cloudy through late Monday.  The northerly winds should continue veering to the northeast and start to relax by midday.  A couple systems are on track for Tuesday and Wednesday, but they’ll likely only clip us to the north, with some spillover precipitation in our zone.


Wasatch Powderbird Guides didn’t get out yesterday, and if they can get out today will be in American Fork, Lamb’s, the Sessions, or Cascade in Provo.  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.

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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.

I will update this advisory by 7:30 on Monday morning.