SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — Crews from the Utah Department of Transportation are preparing for Cottonwood Canyons’ closure as recent Winter Storm Warnings for our northern mountains call for two to three feet of snow beginning Tuesday.
This much snow certainly will cause problems up the canyon roads, and even for ski resorts as avalanche danger will increase throughout the storm. Little Cottonwood Canyon is notorious for avalanches and road closures due to the surrounding steep mountainous terrain.
“Winter’s not done with us yet,” said John Gleason, UDOT’s public relations director. “This is shaping up to be a pretty big storm, and your commute tomorrow evening and especially on Wednesday morning could be very challenging.”
The storm may cause headaches on roadways as it moves in, but these types of storms are what ski resorts hope for.
Snowbird Ski Resort is sitting at 477 inches of snow accumulation so far this season, and this storm should get them to their season average of 500 inches of snow.
“Teams are ready to dig out the resort,” said Sarah Sherman, the communications manager at Snowbird. “Our patrol is ready to perform avalanche mitigation, our cats are ready to groom, this is what we live for.”
“I’m looking for a good snow day,” said Katie Cuellar, an out-of-town snowboarder. “I didn’t really get those days last year, so I’m really excited to get lots of snow. If we can get up here, we’re going to try. We’ve got all-wheel drive cars so if we can do it, we’ll do it.”
With up to 40 inches of snow in the forecast for the Upper Cottonwoods, skiers will need to plan on closures for avalanche mitigation, and an Interlodge Event may be put up at the resorts.
“We have people that live for these kinds of storms,” Sherman said. “They are waiting for an Interlodge, even locals who are right down canyon will book rooms up here so they can be up here ready to ski. It’s always really exciting, everyone has powder fever they want to get out there and once it’s safe to do so, we’ll get them up, so get your powder skis ready.”
UDOT is preparing by resting up crews for the long snowfall event.
The heaviest snowfall, with rates exceeding an inch per hour, is expected Tuesday night into Wednesday. When snow accumulates this quickly, it can be tough for plows to keep up. Gleason says drivers should plan on delays Wednesday morning and canyon closures for avalanche mitigation.
“It can be a little inconvenient at times if you’re trying to get up there to enjoy yourself,” Gleason said. “But we always have to err on the side of safety. Our crews will be up there. They’ll get done the work that they need to do, and we’ll open it up as soon as we’re sure it’s safe.”
UDOT officials also ask that drivers be prepared for winter driving conditions if they do head out. This includes having the appropriate tires, chains, and other equipment to help you navigate the snow and ice.