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


Monday, March 03, 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 Monday, March 03, 2008 and it’s about 7:30 am. 


Current Conditions:

Don’t get me wrong.  It’s critical to our operation down here in our indoor cubicle with no windows that we receive observations from the field confirming, refuting, or adding to the current theories and forecasts.  I do want to personally thank every one of you who called and emailed saying it was one of the best days of the year and it was only because their cell phone batteries died from the endless amount of gloating that went on and on that I never heard much about snow stability.  


What we do know is that it will be another amazing day in the Wasatch.  Again, storm totals from Saturday night into Sunday were 12-16” in the Cottonwoods, and 10”, 7”, and 4” in the Park City, Ogden, and Provo mountains.  The northerly winds only seemed to affect the highest most exposed terrain, and the temperatures remained cold, with all stations in the single digits this morning.  Intermittent clouds kept some of the sunny aspects in check yesterday, but I expect they’ll go off pretty well today with the high, direct sun.     


Snow and Avalanche Discussion:

Textbook EKG monitor for snow stability with the storm.  We went from long running naturals crossing LCC to explosive initiated avalanches crossing the road to almost nothing by the early afternoon.  Many of the slides at the ski areas were described as going into ‘hovercraft mode’, failing within the new fluff, and running exceptionally long distances in the lower density snow.  Folks in the backcountry reported widespread sluffing out of the wind-affected terrain with one skier taking a short ride in the Wilson Chutes, a steep northeast facing line along the upper Mill Creek ridgeline. Shear tests indicated rapidly bonding and settling instabilities, and another 12 hours will have things continuing in that trend, though slightly mitigated by the colder temperatures. 


Sluffing will again be the concern for today on both the cold and the warm aspects.  The first direct sun on the colder snow will initiate new snow sluffing on the southerly aspects, and those exiting the sunny aspects in the afternoon will want to choose mellower terrain to avoid kicking off any wet sluffs.  Again, the expectation is that these will have the capacity to run far and entrain lots of snow.  In steeper terrain approaching 40 degrees, watch over your shoulder with your ski/slope cuts, and move diagonally across the fall line.  Go from island of safety to island of safety and get out of the way at the bottom. 


Bottom Line for the Salt Lake, Park City, Ogden, and Provo mountains:  Isolated pockets of MODERATE for soft slab instabilities linger at the highest elevations on the south and east facing slopes.  The danger of loose snow avalanches on the northerly slopes is MODERATE, with the wettish variety perhaps rising to CONSIDERABLE on the sunny slopes with daytime heating.   


Mountain Weather:

We’ll have clear skies and light, but gusty northwesterly winds today.  Mountain temperatures will be on the upward march to the upper teens by the afternoon as 8000’ temps rise to near 30 degrees.  The next storm looks to be a mini-version of Saturday night’s with less wind and water, but should be good enough for another fresh coat of paint on the hillsides.  High pressure kicks in for the remainder of the week with more storms on the way for the weekend.  The longer range models suggest a good, active pattern through at least mid-month. 


Wasatch Powderbird Guides didn’t get out yesterday, and today are likely to use an “earned Monday” in the Tri Canyons and will have one ship in Silver, Days, Cardiff, and Mineral, with another ship in the Gobbler’s and Porter Fork area.  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 Tuesday morning.