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Health, Science & Environment

Snow Storm Brings Increased Avalanche Danger

avalanch_warnings.jpg
Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center
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The Wasatch Front’s first major winter storm of the season has brought several inches of snow, and with it an increased danger for avalanches.

Mark Staples is the director of the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center.

“As a general rule when we have more snow we get more avalanches.”

He says that is especially true with this storm because the little bit of snow already in the mountains has been sitting for a while, which weakens it.

“Now it’s got a heavy load on top of it," Staples says. "And when you put a heavy load on something that’s not that strong it breaks. And when that happens we get avalanches.”

He says right now there is a lot of uncertainty with the snow pack and that anyone headed to the mountains should be extra cautious.

“We can still go out and have a great time. We can go to the ski areas where they work to reduce the risk of avalanches," he says. "We can go into the back country and we can go on slopes that are less than 30 degrees of steepness and then we don’t have to worry about avalanches and we can have a great time.”

The Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center will continue to monitor the situation but has issued avalanche warnings for most of the ranges in Northern Utah. 

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