(ABC4) – Officials are closing off canyon roads leading to backcountry areas due to possible avalanche danger, Saturday morning.
Valentine’s day weekend’s snowfall is anticipated to elevate avalanche danger. As of Friday night, the avalanche forecast ranged from “considerable” to “high” across the state of Utah.
On February 13, UDOT Avalanche informs the public of road closures throughout the northern terrain of Little Cottonwood Creek.
“All-terrain north of Little Cottonwood Creek from Gate B through Cardiff backcountry closed,” they share. “Please stay EAST of Cardiff Bowl and areas underneath Cardiff. Extends 1,000m into Big Cottonwood Canyon.”
Officials urge the public to stay observant of avalanche danger as the state anticipates snowstorm conditions throughout the weekend.
“We are seeing more avalanches, and more avalanche deaths specifically this year,” shares ABC News Chief Meteorologist Ginger Zee.
Earlier this week, Zee talked about the increase of avalanches happening on the Start Here Podcast.
“We just found that within one week, we’ve had more deaths than we’ve seen in a century,” adds Zee.
Photos shared by the Utah Avalanche Center from their staff, Wasatch Backcountry Rescue, and the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Department Search and Rescue show the snow and debris from the incident.
According to UPD Sgt Melody Cutler, when avalanche danger is a factor, actions must be taken seriously.
Cutler says nobody should be in the backcountry when avalanche risk is extremely high.
“I’m not sure if it’s the thrill or what it is, but it is really important to pay attention to those things,” shares Cutler. “There have been advisories out recently of very high avalanche danger. That exists. The current conditions and this is a very unfortunate circumstance that with these conditions and it actually happened and resulted in lives being lost.”
ABC4 Meteorologist Alana Brophy says, our next storm will drop into the state in the early morning hours of Saturday and impact the state through the early afternoon of Valentine’s Day.
It is then anticipated for the second storm system to linger longer than the first storm.
“We will see valley rain and mountain snow, but a cold front will pass through the state and bring in colder air that will allow for rain to mix with wet snow, and for some areas to completely switch to snow. We have the potential to get valley accumulations by Saturday evening and into the overnight. Bottom line, a sloppy Saturday is expected statewide with wet weather,” she adds.
Experts warn that anytime you’re going out in the backcountry to check the avalanche forecast, bring the essential gear and don’t go alone.