UTAH

Avalanche danger rising in Utah with spring warm-up

Mar 19, 2024, 4:00 PM

Warming spring conditions have Utah officials warning of the particular danger of wet snow avalanch...

Warming spring conditions have Utah officials warning of the particular danger of wet snow avalanches. (Utah Avalanche Center)

(Utah Avalanche Center)

SALT LAKE CITY — Take in the nice, warm weather in northern Utah this week, but also be aware of avalanche danger if you’re headed to the backcountry.

The Utah Avalanche Center is warning people to be cautious as temperatures rise.

Avalanche forecasters are predicting moderate conditions Tuesday in northern Utah. Forecaster Greg Gagne told KSL NewsRadio those conditions will likely roll over into Wednesday. But the danger could rise depending on the time of day.

“The danger could start out low one morning and be high in the afternoon just due to warming from the sun,” Gagne said.

 

These warm conditions could lead to wet snow avalanches. Gagne described these as being just as dangerous as dry snow avalanches. But there are some key differences.

For example, dry snow avalanches move very fast, they can reach speeds of 60 mph in a hurry. But while wet snow avalanches are slower, they can be considerably more dangerous.

“The snow that they’re working with is like concrete,” Gagne said. “If you are caught in one of these wet snow avalanches, your chance of escape is almost impossible.”

Gagne said people should try to avoid slopes greater than 35 degrees. Skiers should also check the forecast ahead of time. He said springtime is normally the most stable for avalanche danger, but conditions this time of year are also more prone to change quickly.

Those who love the backcountry, as always, are highly encouraged to go out with a buddy and to bring a beacon, shovel, probe, and other safety equipment.

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Avalanche danger rising in Utah with spring warm-up