Unseasonably warm weather influences avalanche conditions in Utah

Posted at 9:05 PM, Mar 18, 2015
and last updated 2015-03-19 09:38:08-04

SALT LAKE CITY – Warm temperatures in the mountains of Utah are causing snow to melt, which means greater avalanche danger.

Toby Weed works for the Utah Avalanche Center in Logan, and he has been shooting video in recent days of the natural, wet avalanches that have occurred due to the warm weather.

“It’s a tremendous amount of snow that has just disappeared in mid-elevations,” Weed said.

He said the warm weather is bad for snow stability.

“What happens is the snow is soft all the way through it, super saturated, so it’s melting really quickly and it’s also kind of unstable,” he said.

He said the slow-moving avalanches can be powerful.

“These avalanches aren’t too threatening unless you get caught in them,” Weed said. “Then they can catch your gear and kind of suck you into it and suck you down the slope with the avalanche, even though it may not be moving too quickly, it has a lot of power."

Weed said if temperatures cool down again, the danger of avalanches would decrease.

“We need nights to get down below freezing or hopefully down into the 20s, even lower ideally to refreeze the snow,” he said.

For more information about avalanche conditions and for the latest avalanche forecasts, visit the Utah Avalanche Center.