Utah avalanche experts warn of back-country danger

Dec 21, 2022, 1:00 PM
Pfeifferhorn Avalanche...
Avalanche Awareness week is Dec. 5 - 11. (FILE: Photo credit: Canva)
(FILE: Photo credit: Canva)

SALT LAKE CITY — If you’ve got family coming into town that wants to head to Utah’s backcountry, avalanche officials advise against it.

The Utah Avalanche Center said the Logan area mountains are in the high-risk category through 6 a.m. on Thursday morning.

A powerful winter storm with heavy snowfall and extensive drifting will overload slopes with buried persistent weak layers and cause the backcountry avalanche danger to rise rapidly during the day. Dangerous avalanche conditions already exist this morning on drifted upper and mid-elevation slopes, and the danger will rise to HIGH in many areas by afternoon. Large and long running natural and human triggered avalanches will become likely.

Ogden and Salt Lake City mountains are considered to be at considerable risk for avalanches.

Due to extremely high winds and new snow the avalanche danger will rise to CONSIDERABLE on all aspects at upper elevations and MODERATE on all aspects at mid-elevations by the end of the day. Watch for and avoid any freshly formed wind drifts on all upper and mid-elevation slopes. There is also a MODERATE danger at mid-elevations and low elevations northwest-north-northeast-east because of a persistent weak layer buried 1-4′ deep.

The avalanche danger is LOW on low-elevation slopes facing west and southerly directions.

Any avalanche triggered within the wind-drifted snow has the potential to step down into deeper weak layers in the snowpack, creating a very large and dangerous avalanche.

The Uintah Mountains, along with areas of Provo Canyon, are under a moderate avalanche warning.

Utah Avalanche Center officials advise back-country skiers to avoid slopes steeper than 30 degrees for at least the next 24 hours, citing the possibility of snow slides.

Recent high winds and heavy snowfall have created these risk factors.

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Utah avalanche experts warn of back-country danger