Avalanche danger high in Utah through the weekend

Posted at 9:55 PM, Jan 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-11 09:07:21-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- An avalanche warning is in effect for northern Utah, and experts said the backcountry is so dangerous that they’re seeing slides the width of several football fields.

On Wednesday, Utah Avalanche Center forecasters reported several slides in areas near Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons, as well as in Park City.

Photos from those avalanches show a troubling picture of what the UAC is calling instability and unpredictability in the mountains.

Avalanche forecaster Craig Gordon said these slides were up to three feet deep, and 1,000 feet wide. He said forecasters triggered many of them remotely.

“You can be on an adjacent slope, you can be hundreds of feet away, or you can be at the bottom of the slope,” he explained.

The UAC posted videos to show the dicey conditions and give a warning to the wise.

In one of the videos, Gordon taps the snow with a shovel, releasing a giant piece into his arms.

“This would be a big chunk of snow, it would definitely ruin your day,” he said, holding the mass of snow.

A slide did just that fora snowmobiler near Logan Canyon a couple weeks ago, during another period of high avalanche danger.

Gordon said it doesn’t matter the backcountry activity, the danger is all the same.

“Whether we're skiing, boarding, snowmobiling, hiking, going for a trail run, or even walking the dogs—You need to stay off of and out from under steep, wind drifted slopes,” he said.

The High rating for avalanche danger will likely stick around during the holiday weekend, Gordon indicated.

He said anyone who heads into the backcountry needs to bring the proper gear like a beacon, probe and shovel, and they need to know how to use it.

Click here for the most current avalanche danger ratings.