SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Avalanche Center is urging backcountry recreation enthusiasts to use extra caution this weekend because of an increased likelihood of slides causing serious accidents.
"We are very worried that a serious avalanche accident could occur this weekend," the avalanche center wrote in a "special avalanche bulletin" issued Friday night.
UAC forecasters say the chance of a serious accident is due to two main factors: dangerous avalanche conditions due to the recent snow accumulating on more dry, weak snow; and excellent conditions — "great powder and beautiful weather" — increasing the amount of people who will be out skiing, snowboarding or snowmobiling in avalanche-prone backcountry areas.
"There have been many close calls this week, but luck eventually runs out. We commonly see a string of close calls leading up to serious accidents," the announcement read.
The backcountry areas of most of northern and central Utah's mountains are under "considerable" avalanche danger, which the UAC says is when they see the most accidents and fatalities.
The center also shared a video of a remotely-triggered avalanche Friday. They said this and the recent close calls are "major red flags."
The bulletin included two key messages for anyone venturing into the backcountry this weekend:
- Ensure everyone has and knows how to use an avalanche beacon, shovel, and probe.
- Avoid being on, near or under all steep slopes and avalanche terrain. There is great riding and great powder on slopes less than 30 degrees in steepness where avalanches don’t occur.
Those going out are also advised to check the daily avalanche forecast at utahavalanchecenter.org.
According to UAC data, there have been no fatal avalanche accidents in the state this winter season thus far. Last year, seven people died in four separate slides.