Avalanche experts say the risk for slides is very high for the weekend
Feb 19, 2021, 5:58 PM
(The mountains along Little Cottonwood Canyon, which had to be closed because of avalanche cleanup this week. Credit: Paul Nelson)
WASATCH FRONT – Another potentially dangerous avalanche scenario is in the forecast for this weekend. Avalanche experts say backcountry areas will need time before the risk decreases.
Officials with the Utah Avalanche Center are calling this week’s series of slides “historic,” adding that there was a domino effect on the mountains with one slide partially causing another.
“We saw some epic avalanches. They were breaking deep, they were breaking wide, some of them to the ground,” says forecaster Craig Gordon. “Once those were set in motion, they sympathetically triggered other avalanches. Pieces of snow that are connected to other pieces of snow knocked the legs out from underneath.”
Meteorologists are predicting another eight to ten inches of mountain snow this weekend making the avalanche threat is very high. Gordon says the slopes will need time to settle.
“The snowpack needs a little time to heal. It needs to adjust too of this added weight,” he says. “Our weak, fragile snowpack had a ginormous wallop of snow and water.”
Gordon is calling on everyone who plans to visit Utah’s backcountry to practice an “extreme amount” of caution. He says people should stick to the shallow slopes, preferably under 30 degrees. Plus, everyone should look up the Utah Avalanche Center’s forecast before they go.