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Forecasters Warn Warmer Weekend Could Bring Avalanche Danger To Backcountry

Apr 2, 2021, 6:07 PM | Updated: 8:40 pm

LOGAN, Utah – Warmer weather could bring increased danger to Utah’s backcountry this weekend, and avalanche forecasters warned the snow already on the ground could come down in large slabs.

On Friday, forecasters warned backcountry skiers to get in and out early to avoid dangerous avalanche conditions over Easter weekend.

“My concern is that this weekend into next weekend, we are going into a prolonged period of strong sunshine,” said Mark Staples, Utah Avalanche Center director.

Avalanche forecaster Mark Staples said warmer temperatures could cause sheets of snow to come loose. (Utah Avalanche Center)

That sunshine could warm large, wet slabs of snow just enough to allow them to slide downslope.

“All through here, we still have dry snow. There’s a crust right here, but as we go into this period of warm weather, all of this is going to start to get wet,” Staples said.

If you do plan to head out, avalanche forecasters said you should plan to finish up well before noon.

Northern Utah avalanche forecaster Toby Weed. (Mike Anderson/KSL TV)

“Especially with the nights not freezing well, I’d just avoid being on steep slopes this weekend and wait for it to freeze up again,” said Toby Weed, an avalanche forecaster for the northern part of the state.

He took pictures Thursday near Wellsville that showed what’s left from a wet avalanche.

“Which are a very dangerous type of wet avalanche. They’re not the loose wet avalanches that you can trigger from a point-release, but something where the whole slope can collapse and fail as a slab,” Weed explained. “The heat kind of continues to weaken the snowpack, which in a lot of places right now is pretty dry.”

(Utah Avalanche Center) (Utah Avalanche Center)

It could all change if colder weather or even snow returns.

Forecasters said to go prepared and always check conditions before heading out.

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Forecasters Warn Warmer Weekend Could Bring Avalanche Danger To Backcountry