ALL NEWS

Forecasters warn avalanches possible this New Year

Dec 31, 2021, 11:46 AM | Updated: 7:27 pm

Avalanche risk high...

Credit: Utah Avalanche Center. A recent photo of a large, destructive avalanche.

SANDY, Utah — Avalanches in the backcountry are a serious concern as we ring in 2022, according to forecasters with the Utah Avalanche Center. 

Avalanche conditions in the backcountry

Forecasters worry that this weekend will usher in avalanches. They say weather conditions are creating the perfect circumstances for danger, and that many snow lovers will be enticed into dangerous situations because of the sunny skies. 

Snow, wind and a weak underlayer

The past few days have brought several feet of the white stuff up to the mountains. On top of that, hurricane-force winds have piled up the snow into huge slabs of snow into drifts that lay on top of a weak layer of snow. 

Forecaster Greg Gagne with the Utah Avalanche Center says, “The Cottonwoods have received roughly six to eight inches of water weight,” which he says is like building a new house on top of sand.

Several huge, destructive avalanches have already been triggered in these mountains, further burying this weak layer of snow, forecasters say.  Gagne estimates there have been over 100 avalanches since December 9th, and many of those have been “sympathetic avalanches,” which means the force of one slide was strong enough to trigger another.

Recent close calls

Forecasters say we’ve had too many close calls lately, and avalanches are now starting to be less predictable, becoming triggered in surprising ways.  Gagne says skiers, snowshoers and snowmobilers need to know which parts of the back country to avoid.

“Stay off those northerly facing slopes steeper than 30 degrees,” he says.

Plus, he recommends people recreate in flat meadows as much as they can.

Gagne says, “Two weeks ago, they were full of sagebrush.  Now, they have several feet of snow on top of them.  The cold weather we’ve had and consistent snowfall has made for light, fluffy snow everywhere.”

Avalanches are hitting other states

Over the holidays, some deadly avalanches hit Idaho, Colorado, Montana and Washington. 

Know before you go: Preventing avalanches

Forecasters predict that many skiers will be hitting the slopes this weekend with sunny weather on the way.

Not only is a slide highly dangerous for anyone involved, but it can also take out the entire season’s snowpack in the area. 

Tips from the Utah Avalanche Center 

  • Carefully examine the snowpack, choose your route, and stay on the conservative side.
  • Avoid traveling on north-facing slopes or anything steeper than 30 degrees
  • Make sure you and everyone in your group wears and can use an avalanche shovel, probe, and transceiver. 
  • Learn to recognize terrain that’s susceptible to avalanches. 

Check out the Utah Avalanche Center website for more tips and a terrain map. 

Read more: 

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

All News

Washington Capitals defenseman Steve Oleksy, right, lands a punch on Carolina Hurricanes left wing ...

STEPHEN WHYNO AP Hockey Writer

NHL fighting is down across the league but not going anywhere

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has said fighting has a place in keeping down the temperature of games,

7 hours ago

FILE: Aerial photo of the Pentagon in Arlington, Virgina. The U.S. Army is slashing the size of its...

LOLITA C. BALDOR Associated Press

US Army is slashing thousands of posts in major revamp to prepare for future wars

The cuts include jobs related to counter-insurgency that swelled during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars but are not needed as much today.

8 hours ago

A woman found unresponsive by police in Box Elder Creek was pronounced dead at a hospital on Tuesda...

Simone Seikaly

Woman found unresponsive in Box Elder Creek pronounced dead

Brigham City police were investigating a possible missing person when they said they found a body in Box Elder Creek

12 hours ago

A Utah Judge ruled that the Utah Attorney General’s Office must release his schedule in response ...

Daniella Rivera and Annie Knox

Judge sides with KSL, orders release of Utah attorney general’s calendar

The victory for the news organization is the culmination of a public records fight that dragged on for more than a year.

12 hours ago

FILE: Spectators watch as the Artemis I uncrewed lunar rocket lifts off at NASA's Kennedy Space Cen...

Don Brinkerhoff

Utah company completes solid rocket boosters for NASA’s Artemis

Northrup Grumman says the Arrtemis rocket boosters can carry nearly five metric tons more than the previous boosters. 

12 hours ago

The new West Davis Highway in Davis County on Friday, Jan. 5, 2024. The new 16-mile, four-lane divi...

Tim Vandenack

West Davis Highway gets high marks after 7 weeks; noise still an issue for some

The new 16-mile corridor is a divided, four-lane, limited-access roadway meant in part to ease congestion along I-15.

13 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Clouds over a red rock vista in Hurricane, Utah...

Wasatch Property Management

Why Southern Utah is a Retirement Paradise

Retirement in southern Utah offers plenty of cultural and recreational opportunities. Find out all that this region has to offer.

Forecasters warn avalanches possible this New Year