On the Site:

LOCAL NEWS

UDOT workers work to clear Little Cottonwood Canyon from avalanches

Apr 6, 2023, 5:14 PM | Updated: Apr 17, 2023, 4:16 pm

SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah —  Little Cottonwood Canyon remained closed Thursday night for avalanche control for a fourth straight day.

Utah Department of Transportation avalanche workers took a KSL TV crew into the canyon to provide a closer look at the massive slides and the danger that still threatens anyone up there.

There was still no estimated time for the reopening of Little Cottonwood Canyon. Crews were able to open the road for downhill traffic Friday, but only between 5 a.m. and 9 a.m.

The man in charge of the road crews in the canyon describes the last few days of work as “hell on earth.”

“Huge amount of snow. People are telling me upwards of 6 feet that we received,” Jake Brown said.

Brown supervises the two dozen UDOT workers putting in long hours to get the road open.

He said the phenomenal snowfall lead to more than 30 slides, and they were still coming down.

“With the immense snowpack already, that spells disaster for Little and Big Cottonwood canyons,” Brown said.

He was talking in the middle of the road where an avalanche broke at Lisa Falls, about 1/3 of the way up the canyon. It started all the way up on the mountainside and deposited debris on the road 100 yards wide, as deep as 30 feet in places, and it set up as firm as concrete.

“So, imagine any type of vehicle, or any type of person buried in this avalanche, how hard it would be to get them out,” Brown said. “It’s not worth anybody’s life.“

He said they are clearing even bigger slides up the canyon.  His crew was forced out Tuesday night when one of their loaders was buried by snow. These are bigger slides than any of them have ever seen.

“We’re sort of like re-surprising ourselves, and reimpressed by not only the scale of the avalanches but the frequency that they’re occurring in,” said Steven Clark, UDOT avalanche program manager.

Clark grew up in Utah skiing these canyons, hearing stories about the biggest snow years, and the floods of 1983. Now, he knows firsthand what the biggest snow year looks and feels like.

“What’s been going on this winter has been. It just feels kind of unimaginable really,” he said.

Now that the sun is out, they have a new trigger for wet avalanches.

“Just because we finished the storm cycle doesn’t mean we’re out of the avalanche hazard,” Clark said.

That’s what makes forecasting so difficult right now. Follow UDOT Cottonwood Canyons for the latest information on when the canyon will open.

KSL 5 TV Live

Local News

An app called BusyKids allows children to gain experience with money before reality smacks them in ...

Matt Gephardt

Using fintech apps and debit cards to teach kids money fundamentals

An app called BusyKids allows children to gain experience with money before reality smacks them in the face. It's another option for payment alternatives.

40 minutes ago

Tragedy struck Monday afternoon when a young couple was killed in a collision while turning into th...

Kiersten Nunez

Young parents killed in tragic collision in Sanpete County

Tragedy struck Monday afternoon when a young couple was killed in a collision while turning into their driveway.

1 hour ago

Emery County's Search and Rescue Team and Department of Public Safety officials worked to rescue a ...

Carlysle Price

Family rescued from Zero Gravity slot canyon

A man was rescued by Search and Rescue after he was "wedged between canyon walls," Monday night, according to Emery County Sheriff Tyson Huntington in a Facebook post.

2 hours ago

front doors and a plaque...

Alexander Campbell

Three arrested on suspicion of beating, robbing Springville homeowner

Three Utah locals have been arrested, following an investigation into an aggravated robbery in Springville. 

2 hours ago

The senior citizen center in Washington Terrace, Weber county. County leaders are debating the futu...

Tim Vandenack, KSL.com

Weber County’s offerings for seniors face uncertainty; one or two facilities could close

The number of centers serving Weber County's seniors will likely be whittled from five to three or four by the middle of next year per a reorganization and consolidation initiative meant to better use limited funding resources.

3 hours ago

An air tanker is seen dropping retardant into the Speirs Fire. (U.S. Forest Service.)...

Alexander Campbell

Speirs fire grows past 750 acres, closures in place

As the Speirs fire in Ashley National Forest has grown past 750 acres, the Forest Service has announced a temporary closure order.

4 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

young male technician is repairing a printer at office...

Les Olson

Unraveling the dilemma between leasing and buying office technology

Carefully weigh these pros and cons to make an informed decision that best suits your business growth and day-to-day operation. 

A kitchen in a modern farmhouse....

Lighting Design

A room-by-room lighting guide for your home

Bookmark this room-by-room lighting guide whenever you decide to upgrade your lighting or style a new home.

Photo courtesy of Artists of Ballet West...

Ballet West

The rising demand for ballet tickets: why they’re harder to get

Ballet West’s box office is experiencing demand they’ve never seen before, leaving many interested patrons unable to secure tickets they want.

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 internet safety tips for kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why printer security should be top of mind for your business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

UDOT workers work to clear Little Cottonwood Canyon from avalanches