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 31, 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 31, 2008 and it’s about 7:30 am. 


Current Conditions:

The powerhouse of a cold front this morning kicked the snowfall in gear, snowing at rates of 3”/hr and quickly pushing snow totals, since the early morning, to 10” in the Ogden mountains, 7” in the Park City mountains, 5-8” in the Cottonwoods, and 2-4” in Provo.  It’s 6am as I write this, and it’s still snowing hard.  You can see the back edge of the storm on the westward horizon, so things ought to calm down pretty soon.  Nonetheless, as one highway forecaster put it, “the cold front in the morning could cause some excitement for those looking for it”.  The west to northwest winds are spiking with the front, blowing 20-30mph and gusting into the 40’s and 50’s.  Temps are in the mid-teens enroute to the single digits. 


Snow and Avalanche Discussion:

Yesterday’s 4-7” easily sluffed and cracked out in shallow, manageable soft slabs with ski and slope cuts, and failing on an early-storm density inversion.  The cut snow easily entrained all the new snow and gouged wider swaths, running pretty good distances down the slope with debris piles up to 3’.  It would have been a good day for mentors to take the training wheels off for the novices and grasshoppers to learn the art of the ski/slope cut. 


This morning’s burst of snowfall will easily sluff and produce widespread shallow naturals wherever the snowfall rates continue to pound the steepest slopes. And with enough snow, it’ll likely reactivate yesterday’s lower density ‘grease’, stellars that failed with the higher density snow above.  There is an outside chance that these may be triggered at a distance.  Along the higher, generally easterly facing slopes, newly formed drifts will be immediately sensitive to the weight of a person on slopes 35 degrees and steeper, though, again, the sensitivity should start to settle out as the storm races off to the east. 


The riding conditions should again be exceptional, but remember to start on lower angled terrain, look over your shoulder, get out of the way at the bottom, and never jump in above your partner.  If you’re in the steeper terrain today, there’s no question, you’ll get some snow to move.  Just be smart enough that you don’t move with it.


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

The danger has raced to CONSIDERABLE this morning with the burst in snowfall rates and gusty west to northwest winds.  Localized natural activity up to a foot deep is likely on the steepest slopes at the mid and upper elevations this morning, but this type of activity will be ephemeral, or short-lived.  It will, however, remain sensitive to human triggering, and most pronounced on the steeper, generally easterly facing wind drifted slopes.  As a whole, with our current snowpack, the danger is likely to drop to MODERATE throughout the day and become more pockety.  (I do remember Kimbrough once asking a reporter if he’d go into a bar if he had a ‘moderate’ chance of getting shot…..)


Bottom Line for the Provo Mountains:  MODERATE in the storm snow for sluffing and wind drifts along the highest elevations.


It’s Spring: watch for changing conditions this afternoon.  Convective squalls may spike the snowfall rates in the afternoon in one drainage while ‘sun-breaks’ may induce point releases in the next.   


Mountain Weather:

We can expect another few inches of snow this morning before getting some partial clearing by mid to late morning.  Midday and afternoon squalls may kick in, to freshen wipe away the new tracks.  West to northwest winds will be 15-20mph with occasional stronger gusts, and temps will be in the low single digits between 9 and 11,000’.  Unsettled weather persists through the week with another decent shot of snow around late Wednesday into Thursday.


The Wasatch Powderbird Guides didn’t get out yesterday, and would be permitted for AF, Cascade, Lamb’s and the Sessions today.  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.