NEWS Storm dumps nearly 6 feet of snow in Alta; hazardous avalanche conditions

The Utah Avalanche Center issued a special avalanche bulletin for dangerous conditions Friday.

The Utah Avalanche Center issued a special avalanche advisory Friday for hazardous conditions. (Utah Avalanche Center)

Estimated reading time: 2-3 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — A recent storm in Utah officially brought up to 71 inches, or just under 6 feet, of snow Sunday through Friday morning, according to the latest information from the National Weather Service.

Snowbird also added 56 inches, or more than 4.5 feet of snow. Several feet of new snow fell in many mountains.

While several days of heavy snow this week may be good for Utah’s snowpack, 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.

“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.

As for other final storm totals in lower elevations away from avalanche risk, Weber County’s Bountiful Bench and Liberty both dropped nearly 2 feet of snow Sunday through Friday. Salt Lake City officially received 14 inches of snow in one week, the most for a single storm in nearly two years.

Even southern Utah got a lot of snow. Bryce Canyon National Park received about 9.5 inches of snow, while Kanab received 6.5 inches.

contribute: carter williams

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