Avalanche danger will spike as big spring storm rolls in

Apr 12, 2022, 9:37 AM | Updated: 10:00 am
Image of snow covered mountains surrounded by fog...
FILE Photo credit: Paul Nelson/KSL NewsRadio

SALT LAKE CITY — Avalanche danger will spike because of the latest Utah storm. 

This spring storm is bringing in a decent amount of heavy snow. But that’s not the only problem. 

“In this case, it’s how much how fast,” said Drew Hardesty, a forecaster at the Utah Avalanche Center. “And when it snows two to three inches per hour as forecast, things will become unstable in a hurry.”

Hardesty says the danger will rise from low to moderate to considerable really quickly, reaching that considerable rating by late morning.

He says that by later Tuesday, and definitely by tomorrow, avalanche conditions will be “tricky.”

But don’t blame the base layer.

“The new snow may come in and bond fairly well to the old, warm, rough, and corrugated snow surfaces out there,” he said. “But beyond that, it all going to boil down to how much snow, how fast is it going to fall, and how much winds is going to be associated with the snowfall.” 

Hardesty says they expect that with the precipitation rates and winds, the avalanche danger will really ramp up. 

“We always see close calls and accidents with these spring storms,” Hardesty said. “Folks should not fall asleep at the wheel when they’re heading out to the backcountry over the next couple of days.”

The Utah Avalanche Center released updated forecasts each morning at 7 a.m. The center warns thing could get hairy in the next day or so. 

“The strongest snowfall of the day could come late afternoon into the early evening, where snowfall rates could peak at 2 [inches] an hour,” the center wrote in its forecast. “This storm totals could bring us 20-28 inches of snow, and up to 2 inches of water by tomorrow morning.”

The start of 2022 did not prove to be as deadly as years past, but forecasters adamantly warned of dangerous conditions created by warmer temperatures and less snow, to begin with.

Last year, 2021, was considered one of the most deadly avalanche seasons in the United States ever.

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Avalanche danger will spike as big spring storm rolls in