Avalanche Danger Remains High In Northern Utah

Jan 13, 2020, 12:43 PM | Updated: 3:02 pm

SANDY, Utah – Avalanche warnings continue for outdoor enthusiasts heading up the canyons after heavy snow in the mountains over the last few days.

Little Cottonwood Canyon was closed for several hours Sunday after an avalanche in the White Pine area, sweeping a vehicle off the roadway. No one was injured.

Road closures were in place overnight until after 8 a.m. Monday for avalanche control. Lines quickly formed up both Big and Little Cottonwood Canyon.

Avalanche experts said the fresh powder is great, but people traveling into the canyons need to keep an eye on the conditions.

“With so much snow, just a little bit of (an) uptick in wind, or if snowfall rates pick up, that is instantly going to spike the avalanche hazard,” said Craig Gordon, a forecaster with Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center. 

Gordon told KSL in the past five days, the mountains of Northern Utah have received anywhere from 30 to 60 inches of snow. That’s good news, he said, but the bad news is any weak level in the snowpack may trigger an avalanche over the next few days.

“We have a beautiful day set Wednesday and Thursday. We’ll be able to see what’s going on around us. I expect the danger will spike once again, with rapidly warming temperatures on Thursday and Friday,” said Gordon. “We are also going to see really strong winds, and that could be yet another game changer.”

A high avalanche danger remains in effect for the Wasatch, Logan and Western Uinta Mountains. With natural avalanches occurring like the one on Sunday, Gordon suggested sticking with resorts for skiing and snowboarding, and low-angle terrain with no steep slopes above for hikers, trail runners and those snow shoeing.

“If you’re headed out on your snowmobile, big wide open meadows, you can have a great time, the powder is awesome right now,” said Gordon.

Finally, Gordon said it’s important to be aware of changing conditions, and be prepared with an avalanche receiver, shovel and probe if you hit the back country.

“(You) don’t have to hide under the beds, but we need to be super cognizant with changing conditions,” he said.

Restrictions were in place until about 11 a.m. up Little Cottonwood Canyon, requiring several folks to have snow tires or pull over and put chains.

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Avalanche Danger Remains High In Northern Utah