Northern Utah Avalanche risk high, forecasters warn

Dec 3, 2023, 9:41 AM | Updated: Dec 15, 2023, 5:21 pm

Google Maps view of the location of five recent avalanches along the Wasatch Front and Back - Utah ...

Utah Avalanche Center forecasters pinpointed the location of several recent avalanches on this Google map of the Wasatch Front. (Utah Avalanche Center)

(Utah Avalanche Center)

SALT LAKE CITY — Avalanche risk was high across much of northern Utah on Sunday and Monday, as the region weathers a winter storm warning for both the mountains of the Wasatch Front and the valleys of the Wasatch Back. 

The Utah Avalanche Center rated the current avalanche risk “high” for the regions of northern Utah including Salt Lake City, Provo, Logan, Ogden and the High Uintas.

Utah Avalanche Center: Risk high

Fresh snow means the avalanche risk is currently high on basically every slope on the Wasatch. On Monday, a map from Utah Avalanche center showed danger from Provo to the Idaho border. 

There’s a trend behind the slopes facing  from the northwest to the southeast are in the second highest danger rating. However, the biggest doozies are in the Salt Lake and Provo.

Forecaster Drew Hardesty said the conditions combine strong winds with heavy, wet snow that fell on top of a weaker base. 

“Aside from all the snow, winds … from the west/northwest have been merciless and punishing at all elevations,” Hardesty said in his recorded forecast on Sunday. “At 11,000 feet, a violent gust just after midnight hit 109 miles an hour. Even the low and mid-elevation anemometers were spinning 25 miles an hour gusting to 45.” 

Hardesty described several avalanches triggered across the region on Saturday. No one was hurt. 

“One avalanche was triggered in West Monitor along the Park City ridgeline. Two to three feet deep, 300 feet wide, running in the old, weak, sugary-faceted snow from October/November,” he said. “Layering, cracking and collapsing are the rule, not the exception.” 

If you don’t need to be in the backcountry, Hardesty said, don’t. 

“The travel advice is easy today: Travel in avalanche terrain is not recommended. This includes below avalanche terrain,” he said. 

A winter storm warning blanketed much of the region Sunday. The National Weather Service expected the upper Cottonwood Canyons to pick up an additional two feet of snow before the warning expired Monday morning. 

nter right now and it’s showing me these red blobs indicating high danger all the way from Provo to the Idaho border. There’s a trend behind them all slopes facing note from the northwest to the southeast are in the second highest danger rating there is but the biggest doozies are in the Salt Lake and Provo areas which both saw avalanches already yesterday.

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Northern Utah Avalanche risk high, forecasters warn