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


Wednesday, April 23, 2008  11:30 am
Good morning, this is Bruce Tremper with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center with your backcountry avalanche and mountain weather advisory.  Today is Wednesday, April 23, 2008 and it’s about 10:00 am. 


Special Announcement: 

We are only doing intermittent updates until about the end of April.


Current Conditions:

Our poor, abused snow surface is looking like an old, chimney sweep’s face at the end of the day.  The big wind storm on Saturday stirred up the dust from the west desert and the Millford fire and airbrushed a brown layer over all the mountains in northern Utah.  This is a triple whammy of bad news because 1) it will create sun cups on the snow surface as it melts out, 2) it will melt the snow faster than normal and 3) it could exacerbate the danger of wet avalanches this spring.  Right now, the backcountry snow is kind of lurch-and-jerk with the dust layer slowing you down.  The good news is that we do have a fresh, white coat of paint on the way but the bad news is that it will be a thin coat.


Snow and Avalanche Discussion:

There has been no reported avalanches recently either at the resorts or in the backcountry but it depends on who you believe.  One very experienced and skilled backcountry observers in Big Cottonwood Canyon yesterday thought he saw a fresh fracture line on an east-facing slope of Gobbler’s Knob in Butler Basin by looking with his binoculars.  But two other very experienced and skilled observers thought it looked more like a line in the snow from Saturday’s dust storm.  So until someone skis up to check it out closer, I will choose to believe the majority opinion especially since it matches my observations these past few days that our snowpack is quite stable.

The main concern for the next couple days will be the snow from a weak storm tonight and into Thursday.  I’m only expecting 3-4 inches, which should not be much of a problem, but you will have the usual concerns with new snow, wind drifting in wind exposed areas.  Be sure to jump on test slopes and check how well the new snow is bonded and avoid steep slopes with recent wind drifts.  It should be easy to tell the difference between wind eroded slopes and wind deposited slopes.  Wind eroded snow will be brown and everything else will be white.

Second, when the new snow warms up, we will have the usual wet sluffs from the strong spring time sun.

Mountain Weather:

The storm should arrive around dinnertime and give us 3-4 inches of new snow in the mountains by mid day on Thursday.  Ridge top winds will blow 15-20 from the southwest and switch to the west and northwest overnight and into Thursday.  Ridge top temperatures should drop from 40 degrees today to a high in the mid 20’s on Thursday.  Then, we may get a few clouds on Friday night, but the next several days look clear and sunny.

You can easily monitor the weather yourself by using the following links:
Alta Forecast Graph from the National Weather Service (I love this product).
48-hour weather charts of past temperature and wind (a product produced by our own Brett Kobernik.)
Cottonwood Canyons Forecast from the National Weather Service.

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.