Snow fighters in every storm on avalanche patrol

Local News

LITTLE COTTONWOOD CANYON, Utah- (ABC4 News) – Winter seems to be serving storm after storm to Utah, and regardless of the amount of snow, a group that calls themselves the “snow fighters” battles the powder.

The Utah Department of Transportation has a whole shed dedicated to snow removal in the Cottonwood Canyons. On February 6, 2019, a strong storm slammed our canyons and valleys.

Overnight about two feet of snow fell in Little Cottonwood Canyon and UDOT crews made the decision to keep the road closed due to avalanche danger. 

“Yep, it was a good storm came in and gave us a good run for the money,” Jake Brown, UDOT Roadway Operations Manager for the Cottonwood Canyons, said. 

Wendesday morning conditions included no visisbilty, heavy snow, biting wind and natural avalanche slide activity, so the deicsion was made to shut down the road.  

“It’s s the last option, if we do so it’s for safety,  so people don’t get stuck,”  Jake Brown, UDOT Roadway Operations Manager for the Cottonwood Canyons, said. 

Clearing the canyons is potentially deadly work. Plow crews clear snow and salt the eight mile ribbon of road every time it snows. All crews are equipped with avalanche beacons in the event a slide covers the vehicle they are inside.

Avalanche control work includes round of artillery that triggers slides on the 65 slide paths that cross the road in Little Cottonwood Canyon. 

“Class three class four avalanches you know uprooted trees and brought trees down and branches and debris like you saw good clean outs,” Jake Brown, UDOT Roadway Operations Manager for the Cottonwood Canyons, said of the slides triggered Wednesday.

The day starts at 4 a.m. for crews who work harmoniously with the UDOT avalanche team. Everyone has a role and safety is a priority. Each crew member risks their life for every storm and it’s often a thankless job.

“I like what I do, I enjoy it. I like the people I work with; my crew is awesome! I love coming to work and working with them everyday. I like the challenge of it, it’s fun it’s enjoyable. It’s stressful, but at the end of the day, it’s all about the people and the challenge it presents, rise up,” Jake Brown, UDOT Roadway Operations Manager for the Cottonwood Canyons, said.

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