BIG COTTONWOOD CANYON, Utah (ABC4) — The avalanche danger from last week improved over the weekend with most areas under “moderate” risk right now. However, even with moderate avalanche conditions, ten new slides occurred on Sunday, Jan. 8.
“The snowpack is trending in the right direction,” said Craig Gordon, a forecaster with the Forecast Service Utah Avalanche Center. “That’s the good news. Most of the avalanche danger we’re dealing with involves new snow like we saw yesterday.”
Last week, avalanche conditions were inevitable along portions of northern Utah with many areas seeing improvement at moderate risk now.
In a snow pit at Brighton Resort, Gordon pointed out the older layers of snow that were once a concern for deep avalanches that are now maturing.
“It’s getting crushed, and that’s changing the structure of the crystals. They’re getting stronger; They’re getting compacted,” Gordon said.
A stronger base at higher elevations means that future avalanches should be smaller and confined to new snowfall.
“This nice deep snowpack — I can hardly even dip my hands into this,” Gordon said. “It is cohesive and basically what we’re dealing with, in these thicker snowpack areas, are new snow avalanches.”
With new snow falling at higher elevations through midweek, avalanche danger is expected to increase, but Gordon said new storm snow avalanches are more predictable and easier to forecast.