Avalanche danger ‘high’ for Logan, Ogden and Salt Lake; considerable in other areas

Dec 22, 2022, 1:05 PM | Updated: 1:13 pm

SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah — Three areas in Utah are now in the high level category for avalanche danger, making human-caused or natural avalanches more likely.

The Utah Avalanche Center said this is the first time in a while that the state has gotten snow from the valley floor all the way up to the ridge tops.

Add the wind on top, and slopes are sensitive to any extra weight.

“Not only skiers or boarders out for a rip on the snowmobiles, snowshoes, trail running, dog walking. I mean, we are surrounded by avalanche terrain,” said Craig Gordon, avalanche forecaster with the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center.

Up to a foot of fresh snow fell overnight, something Gordon said may not be as noticeable.

“It’s so hard to tell because the winds were like hurricane force,” he said.

He said the sensitive drifts are now all the more reason for those heading out into the backcountry over the next couple days to stay off of and out from under slopes steeper than about 30 degrees.

“In that 30-degree regimen, we want to make sure we’re not connected to any steep slopes above us. So, that means we’re avoiding overhead hazard,” Gordon said. “If we do not knock the legs out from underneath the avalanche, that means the whole wood pile doesn’t crash down on top of us.”

The danger rating scale is broken down into levels one through five, with one being the lowest risk and five being the highest risk.  It can also be thought of like a stoplight, ranging in colors red, yellow and green.

Logan, Ogden, and Salt Lake are all in the red, meaning high danger zone.

“The bad news is, if you trigger a slope today, it may break deeper and wider than you might expect, and that may be an instant end to ski season,” Gordon said.

Alta Ski Resort said their ski patrol team takes all the precautions to double check any slopes open are safe.

“OK, maybe we can open this. We can’t open this. So, by the time they open this morning, they made sure whatever they had open, it was safe for skiers to be on the mountain,” said Andria Huskinson with Alta Ski Area.

At 6 p.m. Thursday at Alpha Coffee, Gordon will be taking part in a talk about avalanche safety.

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Avalanche danger ‘high’ for Logan, Ogden and Salt Lake; considerable in other areas