Utah Avalanche Center warns of increased recreating amid avalanche risk

Jan 5, 2024, 5:00 PM | Updated: 5:24 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Utahns may be craving to play in the snow amid Friday’s first significant snowfall in many weeks, but the Utah Avalanche center is worried about that intersecting with the rising level of avalanche danger.

Forecasters say that because it’s been so dry the last few weeks, snow enthusiasts in Utah are eager to get out and recreate and may not be thinking about the dangers of avalanches right now.

“This is our biggest concern that we’ve had such benign weather the last few weeks and we’ve had a low avalanche danger. We haven’t had much snow and a lot of people who live here are snow lovers, so they’ve just been waiting for this storm. So now they’re going to have this intersection of a rising avalanche danger and this desire to get into the snow. And we’re concerned about the intersection of the two,” Utah Avalanche Centre forecaster Greg Gagne said.

Avalanche risk is expected to increase to moderate on Friday, with the potential to get worse into the middle of next week. Gagne said once Utah’s mountains reach 2 feet of snow, the risk will increase significantly, it will be widespread, and it will stay elevated for a while.

Gagne described that the base layer of snow in Utah’s mountains has been drying out for the last few weeks, making the base layer crystallized, sugary, and very weak. He said normally, Utah’s mountains could handle a foot or two of new snow without the avalanche risk going up too much.

“But it’s because the existing snow structure, the snow that’s on the ground right now is so weak, it’s so loose, it’s so sugary that it’s not going to take much new snow to create this avalanche danger,” he said.

Gagne likened it to building a house on a foundation of sand. He said the danger will be highest above 8,000 feet and on slopes steeper than 30 degrees. He said you can think of that as steep as a set of stairs.

The center reminds people to check conditions, be prepared, and gear up before heading out. The center’s website updates conditions daily.

KSL 5 TV Live


Snow in Little Cottonwood Canyon...

Carter Williams,

WEATHER ALERT: Here’s what to expect as remnants of California blizzard head to Utah

A storm arriving in Utah has the potential to deliver multiple feet of mountain snow and decent valley accumulation this weekend, depending on variables.

22 hours ago

Follow @KSL5TVLike us on Facebook...

Cary Schwanitz

Code Blue issued for Salt Lake County

The Code Blue alert, issued by the Salt Lake City Council, prompts emergency shelters to expand capacity by 35%.

3 days ago

A sled dog team crosses Portage Lake in Portage, Maine, during the Can Am Crown 250 in 2001. (Rober...

Rachel Ramirez, CNN

Longest sled dog race in eastern US canceled due to not enough snow

The organizers of the Can-Am sled dog races canceled this year’s event due to dangerously insufficient snow coverage.

3 days ago

Texas wildfire...

Mary Gilbert, CNN Meteorologist, Andy Rose and Joe Sutton, CNN

Texas fire doubles in size, threatens towns and forces evacuations

An out-of-control wildfire is threatening Texas Panhandle towns and forcing residents to evacuate.

3 days ago

The crown of an avalanche triggered on Little Water Peak near Millcreek Canyon is pictured on Monda...

Michael Houck

Skier severely injured following avalanche near Little Water Peak

A woman needed to be hoisted out of Little Water Peak after being hurt after an avalanche Monday afternoon.

4 days ago

A snowplow clears the road in Cottonwood Heights on Feb. 9. An incoming storm is expected to provid...

Carter Williams,

Warning issued for Utah mountains, advisories for valleys ahead of latest storm

More winterlike conditions are on the way after a springlike weekend, but snow accumulations will likely depend on the speed of the next storm arriving in Utah.

4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Utah Avalanche Center warns of increased recreating amid avalanche risk