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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Tuesday, March 04, 2008  7:30 am
Good morning, this is Evelyn Lees with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is Tuesday, March 04, 2008 and it’s about 7:30 am. 


Current Conditions:

The surface front moved south across the Wasatch mountains early this morning, bringing with it strong winds and an inch or two of snow.  The wind have shifted from the southwest to northwest, and increased into the 15 to 25 mph range with gusts in the 40’s.  The more exposed stations are averaging 30 to 40 mph with gusts in the 50’s to 70’s.  Temperatures are in the teens along the high ridgelines, and the low to mid 20’s at mid elevations.  The best powder will be found on very wind sheltered shady slopes, with most of the sunny slopes at least slightly crusted. 


Snow and Avalanche Discussion:

Yesterday, there were only a few reports of skier triggered sluffs, dry on the shady slopes, and wet on the sunny slopes.   People were carefully avoiding the old pencil hard wind slabs.  There has also been recent “out of this world” activity observed on Mars - check this NASA link for Mars avalanches - tiny, but visible.


Fresh wind drifts will be the main avalanche concern today.  There is snow available for transport, especially in the Salt Lake and Park City mountains, and today’s winds will deposit the snow much more rapidly than the storm will.  The drifts will be landing on a variety of old snow surfaces which rapidly change over short distances - from slippery sun crusts to weak surface snow to old hard wind slabs.  A few of these old snow surfaces could produce surprisingly long running slides once the snow gets moving.  While most of the drifting will be along the ridgelines, drifts will also form off ridgelines, due to the strong wind speeds.  Look for and avoid rounded, pillowy deposits around sub ridges, mid slope breakovers and gully walls.    It also may be possible to trigger a few of the old pencil hard wind slabs, which are now hidden beneath the new snow.


Later this afternoon, if you’re in an area where the snowfall rates increase, it may be possible to trigger new snow sluffs or soft slabs on steep slopes.


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

The avalanche danger is CONSIDERABLE on any steep slope with drifts of wind blown snow, which will be most widespread on mid and upper elevation northeasterly through southeasterly facing slopes.  CONSIDERABLE means human triggered avalanches are probable and natural avalanches possible.  Avoid travel on and below steep, wind drifted slopes today.  The avalanche danger will increase to MODERATE on other steep slopes this afternoon as new snow accumulates.  The danger is less in wind sheltered terrain, and generally LOW on slopes less steep than about 35 degrees.


Mountain Weather:

The storm system will move slowly across the area today.  Light snow this morning will intensify this afternoon, with the heaviest precipitation in areas favored by northwest flow.  4 to 7 inches of new snow is expected by evening, with locally heavier amounts possible.  Temperatures will drop throughout the day, into the single digits at 10,000’.  The northwesterly winds will slowly decrease this afternoon, into the 10 to 20 mph range. High pressure will return for the rest of the week, with a gradual warming trend.  


Wasatch Powderbird Guides flew in Days, Cardiff, Grizzly and American Fork yesterday, and if they get out today will be in Mineral, Cardiff, Days, Silver, Grizzly, White Pine, and American Fork.  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.

Brett Kobernik will update this advisory by 7:30 on Wednesday morning.