SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — Heavy new snow from last night has increased avalanche danger from “moderate” to “high” along the Wasatch Mountain ranges with areas like Little Cottonwood Canyon remaining closed for much of the day Wednesday for avalanche mitigation.
It was a very fluid situation in Little Cottonwood Canyon throughout the day as the Utah Department of Transportation’s avalanche crew kept an eye on conditions and worked to make the canyon safe for travel.
UDOT had hoped for an opening of the canyon around noon but with several avalanches hitting the roadway, it took crews longer than they thought.
There was roughly three feet of new snow in the upper Cottonwoods with this round of recent storms and a foot just overnight. And with all that new snow at Alta and Snowbird, we know that powder hounds have been eager to get up the mountain.
“Got done with work and got my ski stuff ready, and I’m like, ‘Alright, I’m gonna get first tracks,” said Matt Walker from Salt Lake City. “And now, we’re still waiting, but that’s okay because no one else is getting those tracks either.”
Avalanche mitigation took place all morning and throughout much of the afternoon in Little Cottonwood Canyon. UDOT officials said several of their triggered avalanches had been highly successful, with four slides impacting sections of highway 210.
“One [avalanche] in the White Pines Area measured about 12-13 feet deep and 150 feet long,” said John Gleason, public relations director of UDOT. “It completely covered the road, and we’re just in the process right now of plowing that out.”
With high avalanche danger along the Wasatch Mountains, even those already up at Alta and Snowbird could not reach the slopes either.
“When they’re shooting onto the road, then you have to be inter-lodged because some of the stuff might come onto the road into Alta,” said Andria Huskinson, communications manager at Alta Ski Area.
The inter-lodge was lifted around noon for lodging residents, and Alta was able to open. However, UDOT crews are still working to clear Highway 210.
“Our goal is to make sure that if there are going to be slides that are going to come down,” Gleason said, “which is why we have to bring down these slides while the canyon is closed.”
The canyon was able to reopen around 2:30 p.m. Wednesday afternoon, and a steady stream of cars was seen coming up the roadway. Drivers should always check UDOT’s website or social media pages for updates on road conditions before heading out.