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‘Unusually Dangerous’: Forecasters Predict High Avalanche Threat For Weekend

Feb 12, 2021, 12:22 PM | Updated: 12:24 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – There have been three deadly avalanches in the last two months, with two of those tragic incidents happening the past two weekends.

The threat for more avalanches in Utah’s backcountry is again likely to be high this weekend as heavy snow is being layered on top of unstable bases, forecasters said.

On Friday, mountains in the Logan area were at high danger, and areas at 8,000 feet and above were at considerable danger along the rest of the Wasatch Front.

Craig Gordon, with the Utah Avalanche Center, said this year is particularly different from years past because the snow depths at high elevations are about 50% of what they typically are. He said that shallow snow has a “weak, sugary” base.

“That weaker snow is like a house of cards,” he said. “We flip a few of those cards over, pull the rug out from underneath that stronger snow, and now the entire roof is crashing down on top of us.”

Gordon said the unusual snowpack is creating “unusually dangerous avalanche conditions,” and the best way to avoid triggering or getting caught in an avalanche is to simply avoid the areas where they happen.

“We know that these dangerous avalanche conditions exist in mid and upper elevations, particularly on slopes that face the north half of the compass,” he said. “So that’s the exact type of terrain we need to avoid.”

For avalanche forecasts, visit utahavalanchecenter.org. 

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‘Unusually Dangerous’: Forecasters Predict High Avalanche Threat For Weekend