Avalanches already major concern after this week’s storms

Nov 9, 2022, 2:10 PM | Updated: Nov 10, 2022, 9:42 am

SALT LAKE CITYAs we follow the latest round of storms to hit Utah, mountain areas are getting inches and inches of snow.

With the added snow, lots of people are anticipating time outside on trails and the slopes.

Craig Gordon with the Utah Avalanche Center knows the slopes and snow like the back of his hand. 

Gordon said the storm is bringing elevated avalanche hazards for the Wasatch and Logan area mountains. 

“Right now, the Wasatch is getting pounded. Lots of wind. Lots of water,” he said.

Utah is seeing quite the winter mix.

“This big storm is a huge wallop to our early-season snowpack,” Gordon said.

Gordon added he has already started to see some naturally occurring avalanches.

Couple that with this storm, and as tough as it may be, he asked people to pump the breaks, or in his words, “Slow the Stoke.”

“Kind of contain our stoke a little bit and realize we’re at the beginning of what looks like an awesome start to the season,” Gordon said.

He said that does not mean you cannot go out and have fun now, but he said you need to do so prepared and mindfully.

Skiers already heading to the slopes

Max Wood was on the slopes in Big Cottonwood Canyon Wednesday morning.

“We’re praying for more snow,” he said. 

Wood and his friend said making their way up Big Cottonwood Canyon took time Wednesday morning. 

“Going up the roads, it was pretty slippery. The roads themselves, there were a lot of people that were stuck,” he said. 

The conditions served as another reason he was following the buddy system.

“Sometimes I see people going out alone, and I think that’s a very dangerous thing to do,” Wood said. “Always making sure you got someone with you, at least one or two other people in case something goes bad. You’ve got someone that can help you.”

Gordon said the same is true for the next few days. 

“After we get out of this storm, we’re going to be looking at a clearing trend. Beautiful sunny skies,” Gordon said. “We’ve got to remember that our stoke level is high, but the snowpack right now might not feel our enthusiasm.”

Brighton Resort, Solitude opening early because of storm

Brighton Resort and Solitude said the storm has allowed them to open early. Brighton announced it is opening for the season on Friday and Solitude planned to open Thursday.

“The resort has received 60 inches of snow since Oct. 22, with more expected throughout the day,” resort officials said Wednesday.

Jared Winkler, Brighton Resort’s director of marketing, said, “Early season snowfall and low temps allowed us to set up the mountain pretty early in the season this year. We estimate that between 50 and 200 snowboarders and skiers have been coming up here every day since the first big storm of the season a few weeks ago.”

Thanks to 22 inches of new snow over the last 24 hours, Solitude Mountain Resort will also be opening to the public this week.

“We can’t wait any longer,” read an 11:31 a.m. tweet from the resort.

Moonbeam and Link lifts, therefore, will open at 2 p.m. Thursday for Solitude and Ikon Pass holders.

According to a release from Solitude, this is the earliest opening day since 2013.

Storm makes canyon driving treacherous

Snowplow drivers in the Cottonwood Canyons planned to clear snow from this storm for a couple of days.

The Utah Department of Transportation plows started in the Cottonwood Canyons around 5 a.m. Tuesday, according to Shawn Wright, UDOT supervisor for the area.

That’s when the snow started to fall about halfway up the canyons, and it’s been coming down in waves ever since.

“When the fronts started coming through the intensity really picked up,” Wright said.

To keep up to date with weather conditions, you’re encouraged to visit the Avalanche Center here.

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Avalanches already major concern after this week’s storms