Avalanche nearly captures 3 Utah skiers; forecasters urge care

Jan 9, 2023, 7:03 PM

WELLSVILLE, Utah — A close call in the mountains near Wellsville has avalanche forecasters urging people in the backcountry to use extra care.

An avalanche about six-feet deep descended toward a group of skiers in the area Sunday. Experts with the U.S. Forest Service Avalanche Center said it’s kind of a tricky time to make assessments because while the danger is moderate to considerable, there are areas where it can be higher.

Three skiers reported as they started to ski down a bowl, high winds started to push large, hard slabs off the side of the mountain.

“As they got to the top of the ridge, they realized that the winds were moving a lot of snow and creating sensitive drifts or slabs,” Toby Weed, an avalanche forecaster from the Logan, Utah area said. “They decided to come to come down off the mountain, and as they were skiing down, one of them triggered an avalanche, triggered cracking around his skis, and a small wind-slab avalanche ensued.”

An avalanche near Wellsville, Utah, nearly captured three backcountry skiers on Sunday, Jan. 8. 2023. (Utah Avalanche Center) An avalanche near Wellsville, Utah, nearly captured three backcountry skiers on Sunday, Jan. 8. 2023. (Utah Avalanche Center) Toby Weed (KSL TV) An avalanche near Wellsville, Utah, nearly captured three backcountry skiers on Sunday, Jan. 8. 2023. (Utah Avalanche Center)

One of the three caught his skies in the slide that was estimated to be 200 feet wide.

“All of the guys that were involved were lucky for sure not to have been caught and killed in the avalanche,” Weed said. “It went down close to 2,000 vertical feet in elevation, through a tight gulley with lots of small maples trees and it would not have been a good situation.”

He said more recent snow is sitting on top of a persistent weak layer that hit the state in November.

“Everything turned out OK this time,” Weed said. “Thankfully nobody got caught in the avalanche…it was quite a lot of snow.”

He said much of Utah’s snow should stabilize within a few weeks but also said it was important to be patient and stay away from steep slopes. He said there is plenty of great snow this year on slopes less than 30 degrees. There is also the potential for more instability with more wet snow falling right now.

“Yes, it’s heavy but it’s also really hard snow; Hard enough that you can barely stick your finger into it.”

As wet, heavier snow continues to fall, it is adding to the potential danger. A skier was caught in a Big Cottonwood Canyon avalanche this weekend and there was another close call in Cache Valley that has forecasters concerned.

Weed said it’s essential to always check conditions before heading outdoors.



KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

Utah Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen (23) goes to the basket as Toronto Raptors forward Scottie Barnes...
Ben Anderson, KSL KSL Sports

Ben Anderson: Yes, Lauri Markkanen will be an All-Star

The NBA is set to announce the All-Star reserves tonight on TNT at 5 pm MT, and Utah Jazz fans should expect Lauri Markkanen to hear his name called.
15 hours ago
Hill Air Force Base, Utah (Photojournalist Meghan Thackrey)...
Madison Swenson

Hill Air Force Base building evacuated due to ‘unusual smell’

A building at Hill Air Force Base was evacuated Thursday morning after an "unusual smell" was detected.
15 hours ago
FILE PHOTO - (Deseret News)...
Madison Swenson

Iron County woman arrested, charged after she was shot by police

A 37-year-old woman has been arrested after authorities say she pointed a pistol at officers in Iron County and they shot at her.
15 hours ago
After a contractor got paid, customers say he stopped responding and walked off the job. (KSL TV)...
Matt Gephardt and Cindy St. Clair

Felony charges for contractor accused of ripping off several Utahns

After a contractor got paid, customers say he stopped responding and walked off the job. A Get Gephardt investigation found this particular contractor has walked off so many jobs it could land him behind bars.
15 hours ago
Karah Brackin

Students across Utah come together to learn the importance of mental health care

Mental health, wellness and suicide prevention — they're all big topics of conversation, and more and more, those conversations include our kids. That's where Hope Squad is coming in to help.
15 hours ago
A man was flown to the hospital after he was hit by a garbage truck in Layton. (Layton Fire Departm...
Logan Stefanich

Man hit by garbage truck in Layton, flown to hospital

A man was taken to the hospital Thursday after being hit by a garbage truck near Hill Air Force Base, police said.
15 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

vintage photo of lighting showroom featuring chandeliers, lamps, wall lights and mirrors...
Lighting Design

History of Lighting Design | Over 25 Years of Providing Utah With the Latest Trends and Styles

Read about the history of Lighting Design, a family-owned and operated business that paved the way for the lighting industry in Utah.
Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Avalanche nearly captures 3 Utah skiers; forecasters urge care