UTAH (ABC4) – For many Utahns, waking up to fresh snow means one thing: heading straight for the mountains. But even though the slopes are surely calling to many this morning, it’s important to check avalanche risk before you go, especially if you plan to travel in the backcountry.
Following last night’s storm, The Utah Avalanche Center has issued a warning for high avalanche danger across the state. The current warning affects mountainous regions in the Wasatch Range, Bear River Range, Uinta Range, Manti-Skyline, Fish Lake region, Pahvants, Tushars, and Cedar City mountains. The only area excluded from the warning are the Abajo mountains in Southeast Utah, though the danger in this region is still considerable.
The avalanche warning went into effect this morning at 6 a.m., and will expire tomorrow morning at 6 a.m.
UAC forecasters urge against traveling in avalanche terrain today, saying that any avalanche occurring in these conditions isn’t likely to be survivable.
Avalanches are caused by a weak layer of snow-topped with a stronger layer, sitting on a slope of more than 30 degrees.
The heavy snowfall and strong winds brought by last night’s storm system are factors in today’s avalanche danger, according to the UAC.
Two natural avalanches were recorded yesterday, and according to UAC’s Twitter, avalanches this morning in Little Cottonwood Canyon are said to be running near historic maximum distances. So far, there have been no avalanche fatalities during the 2021/2022 ski season.
If it’s just too hard to resist the fresh powder today, skiing in bounds at one of Utah’s local resorts is a safer option until avalanche danger decreases in the backcountry. Inside the ropes, teams of specialists work to patrol the terrain and mitigate avalanche risk. So, if you plan to hit the slopes today, do so safely, and save the backcountry for another day.