The Utah Avalanche Center issued a special avalanche advisory Friday for hazardous conditions. (Utah Avalanche Center)
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SALT LAKE CITY — Several days of heavy snow this week may be good for Utah’s snowpack, but it is creating dangerous conditions for avalanches, even at lower elevations near parking lots and trailheads.
That’s according to the Utah Avalanche Center, which issued a special avalanche advisory Friday for “unusually dangerous avalanche conditions.” The advisory applies to all slopes to the northwest and east at elevation “where avalanches are likely to occur.” The advisory will remain in place throughout the weekend.
“We will probably add west and southeast slopes to the mid-elevation slopes,” “UAC Logan” said in response on Twitter. “If you go to regional areas, be conservative today.”
The Utah Avalanche Center said it issued the bulletin after “three major avalanche incidents” at lower elevations over the past week. Two incidents required search and rescue teams to help evacuate victims, and another was knocked unconscious before being able to evacuate on his own.
A 35-year-old man was partially buried and rescued after eight hours of grueling effort in an accident in the Neves Gorge.
Dangerous avalanche conditions exist! The north facing slopes have old weak patchy snow, don’t mess around.
A preliminary incident report for the Neff Canyon Avalanche is available on our website. pic.twitter.com/1P3ySiWLtZ
— Utah Avalanche Center (@UACwasatch) December 15, 2022
“Unusually, each of the avalanche incidents occurred at low altitudes below 8,000 feet,” the center said in a release. “This means that these avalanches can occur not far from the parking lot or trailhead. These dangerous avalanches are 1-4 feet deep at the top breakline and are easily triggered from below.”
According to the Utah Avalanche Center website, there is considerable avalanche danger in the mountains near Logan, Ogden, Uintas, Salt Lake County, Provo, Skyline and Moab. Of the 31 avalanches in Utah in the past week, more than half were caused by skiers, snowboarders and/or snowmobilers.
Avalanches can occur on slopes greater than 30 degrees. In a video, officials advise using a smartphone app to determine the grade and say to stay away from trails or parking lots next to steep grades.