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Avalanche Center Issues Backcountry Warning For Northern Utah

Yoshimedia via iStock
The areas with the highest risk of avalnches include Logan and the Uinta mountains.

In anticipation of some heavy snow showers, the Utah Avalanche Center has issued a backcountry avalanche warning for the mountains of northern Utah.

In an online video, avalanche forecaster Craig Gordon describes the kind of snow we’ve seen in northern Utah since the new year.


“We’ve been enjoying this light fluffy, blower powder," says Gordon. "I mean this stuff has been falling straight out of the sky.”


It's the kind of powder that skiers and snowboarders pray for. But in the next few days it’s going to be a different story.


“Warm, wet and windy," says Gordon. "That's going to put a dense cohesive slab on top of all this light fluffy snow."


Dense snow sitting on top of fluffy snow, along with expected heavy winds, is a good recipe for avalanches. Especially near Logan and the Uintas.


But Mark Staples, the director of the Utah Avalanche Center, says the danger isn’t expected to stick around.


“It’s not a long lasting problem," says Staples. "It can go away in 24 to 48 hours.”


It’s just a matter of time before the fluffy layer becomes dense and compact with the added weight. In the meantime the risk is easily avoided.


“What is really cool is that we know where avalanches happen," says Staples. "And that is any slope steeper than 30 degrees.”


So, if you’re on a 28 degree slope, which Staples says is basically like a blue run at a ski resort, you don’t have to worry about avalanches.


Utah’s department of transportation is also monitoring for potential risks near roads and ski resorts, which included a temporary and routine closer of Little Cottonwood Canyon Wednesday afternoon.


Lee Hale began listening to KUER while he was teaching English at a Middle School in West Jordan (his one hour commute made for plenty of listening time). Inspired by what he heard he applied for the Kroc Fellowship at NPR headquarters in DC and to his surprise, he got it. Since then he has reported on topics ranging from TSA PreCheck to micro apartments in overcrowded cities to the various ways zoo animals stay cool in the summer heat. But, his primary focus has always been education and he returns to Utah to cover the same schools he was teaching in not long ago. Lee is a graduate of Brigham Young University and is also fascinated with the way religion intersects with the culture and communities of the Beehive State. He hopes to tell stories that accurately reflect the beliefs that Utahns hold dear.
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