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UDOT takes steps to avoid avalanche dangers

Posted at 7:29 PM, Jan 02, 2020

SALT LAKE CITY — In the Salt Lake City area, the risk of avalanches is high today with all the snow we’ve seen in the last two days.

The Utah avalanche center and UDOT crews have been working hard to protect people on the roads and in the backcountry from an avalanche.

“I’m just going to head up here up Emma’s ridge probably ski a few of the runs,” said Dustin Pellegrino.

Dustin Pellegrino is taking advantage of the snow up near Alta.

“The snow stays good for a while, and fewer people than solitude and it’s quiet you can kind of clear your head,” said Pellegrino.

With high avalanche risks— staying safe, and looking for signs in the snow, are things Dustin keeps at the front of his mind.

“I have all the gear I actually just texted my wife told her where I was heading,” said Pellegrino.

Because the conditions are so perfect for an avalanche right now, UDOT closed Little Cottonwood Canyon this morning to set one off.

“Little Cottonwood Canyon is one of the most dangerous roads in the world as far as avalanche concerns because there are so many different chutes and active areas where you can see avalanches,” said John Gleason with UDOT.

While it may be frustrating for drivers to wait at the bottom of the canyon, one can see why it's necessary.

“When you see it actually happening you understand just how important the work is that’s happening up there,” said Gleason.

Nikki Champion with the Utah Avalanche Center said if you are headed out into the backcountry or even on a hike on a marked trail, there are several things to look for.

“When you’re out and about you can look for signs of wind drifted snow like pillows, cracking or whoomphing sounds in the snow that sound hollow, you can see snow drifting across ridgetops and look for areas that might be deposited,” said Champion.

And always make sure you have your gear, a shovel, a beacon, and a probe.

“You see a lot of people that are out there that don’t have their gear or aren’t prepared it’s necessary for sure,” said Pellegrino.