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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Sunday, April 13, 2008  7:30 am
Good morning, this is Brett Kobernik with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is Sunday, April 13, 2008 and it’s about 7:30 am. 


Special Announcement: 

Snow storms last week added up to 2 feet of cold dry snow which has been very susceptible to rapid warming and produced natural avalanche activity on Saturday.  With warmer temperatures today and Monday natural avalanche activity is expected to continue and could produce quite large avalanches.  This will be most pronounced in the Salt Lake area mountains which received the most snow over the past week.  Parts or all of the roads in the Cottonwood Canyons may be intermittently closed during the heat of the day.  Only people with expert level avalanche assessment and route finding skills should attempt travel in avalanche terrain this weekend.


Current Conditions:

Today is the last regularly scheduled avalanche advisory for this season.  We will continue to do updates as weather and snow conditions warrant through April.  Thank you very much for all the backcountry observations we received this year and keep them coming if you’re still getting out.


Temperatures cooled down overnight enough to refreeze the snow surface but they didn’t get as cold as Friday night.  Most mountain locations are in the mid to upper 20s but there are a notable amount of places hanging right around freezing.  Wind speeds slowed yesterday afternoon and are averaging less then 10 mph from the northwest only gusting into the 20s along the highest peaks.  A fair number of people got out on Saturday to milk the last of the cold snow which can still be found on the high due north aspects and most reported crusts on all other aspects. 


Snow and Avalanche Discussion:

Not surprisingly most people who stayed out later in the day reported wet avalanche activity which was both natural and human triggered.  A natural wet slab released 200 feet wide running a few hundred vertical and stopping just short of a house on a south facing slope at around 8300 feet in elevation in Big Cottonwood.  A couple of larger naturals released in Little Cottonwood not quite hitting the road.  There were also a number of human triggered small wet loose snow avalanches on Saturday.  A few cornices are starting to let loose as well.  Skiers in upper Porter Fork reported a few collapses of the snow pack and snow safety at Park City triggered a dry soft slab up to 2 feet deep which suggests slabs may still be triggered in very isolated areas.


Again today the main concern revolves around heating of the upper portion of the snowpack.  Let’s look at the pluses and minuses.  On the plus side, we’ve had a couple of days of gradual warming with successive refreezes.  With every refreeze the temperatures the next day need to penetrate the snow more to loosen it up.  On the minus side, today’s highs are expected to be warmer then yesterday’s and likewise for Monday.  Will this override the past few melt freeze cycles loosening the snow to the point of failure?  If you know the answer to this please call the boys at Little Cottonwood UDOT and drop me a line also, we’d like to know your formula.  You can be pretty sure you won’t stumble across me having lunch this afternoon at the bottom of any steep slide paths.  I’ll be joining some of you snow safety personnel at your Bar-B-Q watching from a safe distance.


Not many cornices have come loose due to warming yet but one of our up and coming backcountry observers did note a few on his tour through Bells on Saturday.  We need to give these things due respect during this period of warming.  They tend to break off quite large and often farther back then expected.  They can also entrain enough snow or trigger an avalanche below which if the cornice fall doesn’t do you in, the avalanche may.

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

The avalanche danger starts out generally LOW this morning with only a few isolated places where you may trigger a dry slab on the upper elevation north aspects.  The avalanche danger will rise to CONSIDERABLE with daytime heating.  Large natural avalanches could release on east, south and west facing slopes.


Mountain Weather:

Clear skies with 8000 foot temperatures near 50 or better and in the mid to upper 40s along the upper ridges are in store.  Westerly winds should be fairly light along the ridges.  Temperatures will only drop into the upper 20s again tonight and a number of places may not get below freezing.  Monday is again mostly clear and warmer yet with increasing southwest winds.  A cold front is scheduled for Tuesday which may produce 2 to 4 inches of snow.


The Wasatch Powderbird Guides were in Mineral and Cardiff on Saturday and will head for American Fork 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.

We’ll do intermittent updates as conditions warrant through April.