UDOT conducts avalanche control in Little Cottonwood Canyon

Posted at 11:52 AM, Jan 09, 2013
and last updated 2013-01-09 13:52:08-05

With ski season comes avalanche season and crews with the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) are preparing to do battle with mother nature.

Wednesday morning crews fired heavy artillery in Little Cottonwood Canyon to keep drivers and skier safe.

UDOT said Little Cottonwood Canyon has a very high risk of avalanche danger. It is easy for an avalanche to hit the road and they happen often. Additionally, all the cars in the canyon make for some hazardous conditions.

UDOT crews often shut down the canyon in the early morning hours to do some avalanche control work.

On Wednesday, avalanche teams tested some of the artillery at their disposal to make sure they can hit some difficult avalanche paths.

Crews fire about 500 rounds of ammunition a year in Little Cottonwood Canyon. The goal is to work quickly so that skiers and snowboarders can head to the resorts safely.

UDOT works closely with ski patrol teams from the resorts before they open the road back up.

"Often times relates to amount of snowfall we get. As of the end of December, we were normal as far as the 50 yr average goes for snowfall," said Liam Fitzgerald, UDOT Highway Avalanche Safety program. "What happens in the future will be very dependent upon the weather which remains to be seen."

Aside from the avalanche control, UDOT also works to keep the canyon roads clear of snow. Crews spend hours maneuvering big snow plows up and down the windy canyon.

If you are planning to ski in the early morning hours in Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons, check out UDOT's website here to see if there is avalanche work blocking the road.