OUTDOORS + RECREATION

UDOT keeps areas with the highest avalanche risk safe

Apr 7, 2023, 2:03 PM | Updated: Jan 5, 2024, 1:09 pm

Avalanche risk...

An avalanche up Provo Canyon has closed US-189 near milepost 12. The Utah Department of transportation says the highway could be closed for 24 hours to allow crews to clear the snow. Photo credit: Utah Highway Patrol.

SALT LAKE CITY — The avalanche risk in the Cottonwoods is unique compared to other canyons but the Utah Avalanche Center said you can take solace in the work crews are doing to keep it safe.

The steep slopes and extra snow in the Cottonwoods make them more prone to slides compared to other canyons.

Utah Avalanche Forecaster Greg Gagne said the slide paths are extra smooth this year.

Gagne also said there’s never any risk of a slide. But when UDOT does open the roads to Big and Little Cottonwood Canyon, you can trust they feel it’s safe.

“They do a really good job of keeping at the resorts keeping the slopes safe and UDOT keeping the highways safe,” said Gagne.

Compared to canyons like Parley’s, Gagne said the Cottonwoods are full of large avalanche paths with lots of car traffic below. And this year, the amount of snow has made those paths extra smooth. Making the avalanche risk higher, and this weekend, sunny slopes will be the riskiest.

“So even if you get a foot of snow, in the normal winter, if that foot of snow avalanched up higher, it wouldn’t reach the road,” said Gagne. “Well, this winter those avalanche paths are totally smooth so its a clear line from… a thousand feet above the road down the road bottom.”

 

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UDOT keeps areas with the highest avalanche risk safe