High avalanche danger warning issued for Wasatch Front, Uintas

Photo: Utah Avalanche Center

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, March 9, 2022 (Gephardt Daily)  — The weather may seem harsh enough down in the flatlands, where the city folk live, but the late winter snowstorms are messing with the back country as well.

The Utah Avalanche Center has issued a high avalanche danger warning Wednesday for much of the Wasatch Front, and the Uintas, through the night and most likely through Thursday and even beyond.

“These conditions will probably extend through much of March,” Trent Meisenheimer, a forecaster with the Utah Avalanche Center, said Wednesday evening.

Seven avalanches were reported to the center Monday and two more Tuesday, he said, one Monday briefly burying a snowmobiler and his vehicle in Summit County, who was luckily rescued quickly by companions.

“He had one hand sticking out of the snow.”

Meisenheimer said those seven avalanches were all human-triggered.

“There were likely many, many more which were naturally triggered,” he said, describing what he called a “weird dry period” through January and February where hillside snowfall became dry and “sugary.”

The snowstorms since Sunday have piled on a new, wetter layer called a slab, making hillside snowbanks unstable, he said. “That’s a perfect recipe for avalanches.”

High is effectively the most dangerous level rating for avalanches, he explained, topped only by extreme.

“Both are very dangerous but extreme is very rare.” The last time an extreme danger warning was issued by the center. he said, was one day in February of 2021. “That would be historic, avalanches that snap trees, avalanches like you’ve never seen before.”


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