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Little Cottonwood Canyon briefly reopens after natural avalanche, skiers stranded at resorts for hours go home

Posted at 1:52 PM, Jan 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-21 23:21:25-05

COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS, Utah -- It was a busy afternoon Monday at both Cottonwood Canyons. A lot of skiers and snowboarders were not able to get up the canyons to enjoy the fresh powder, while some that did make it, could not get down.

Around 1:40 p.m., Snowbird posted a tweet alerting people that there had been a natural avalanche in the White Pine area of Little Cottonwood.

"Well it’s just been unbelievable; the amount of snow that's been falling. Up in the canyons, we're seeing up to five inches an hour," said John Gleason, spokesperson for UDOT.

UDOT says no one was reported injured, but incidents like this are why they've been conducting avalanche mitigation throughout the day.

"It’s an area that typically does see a lot of activity," Gleason said, "and we had just actually finished doing avalanche control in that area, just about less than an hour before, and we’re letting people down the mountain."

Big Cottonwood Canyon has been opening and closing throughout the afternoon, causing long lines of skiers and snowboarders waiting to get up the mountain.

"I’m trying to go snowboarding bro. It looks like the mountains are closed down," said snowboarder Jeff Warrinur.

Meanwhile, at Little Cottonwood Canyon, the road shut down around 9:30 am and never reopened. Law enforcement stood in the snow, turning people away.

"They’ve been opened and then closed and then opened and then closed. We didn’t know what the latest was, so we just came," said skier Mario Sillido.

At around 6 p.m. Monday, UDOT announced that Little Cottonwood Canyon reopened to downhill traffic only.

UDOT says no one was injured in the avalanche which was about a foot deep.

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