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Avalanche Watch Issued - Danger Could Increase With More New Snow

Utah Avalanche Center

A cold front has rolled through northern Utah and with it, new snow, increasing winds and a growing chance of triggering a backcountry avalanche.

With Tuesday’s new 4 to 10 inches of low density snow and even more snowfall forecast through Friday and increasing winds, those travelling in the back country will need to know what they’re doing to stay safe.

Utahn Avalanche Forecaster Drew Hardesty says the early season snowfall is just part of the danger.

“It puts me a bit on edge because we have some of the weakest early season snowpack, I can remember with hoar snow with facets and crusts and surface hoar from last week,” Hardesty explained. “It’s not going to take much. It’s mostly moderate out there in the backcountry, but it just makes me cringe I’m even calling for pockets of considerable danger  but in very isolated terrain -0 the upper elevation the north through easterly facing aspects so exercise caution.”

He has issued an avalanche watch for the mountains of norther Utah and the western Uintas.

“Two feet of snow can’t be ruled out and that will easily overwhelm the pre-existing snowpack that we have,” he said. “I would expect probably   many natural avalanche cycles in the coming days.” 

It’s possible that the center will issue an avalanche warning.

“I do expect the danger to reach high in the coming days and that includes side country access for the backcountry,” said Hardesty. “So, it could be a very wild and dangerous week for the Thanksgiving week ahead.” 

The rotted snow he says will persist – for the next month or so…

”It’s not uncommon for us to have to have early season snow in late September, October or early November that causes heads and may close calls in the early season,” he said. “But as time goes by and  we start to pile up more and more snow on top of it,  it starts to stabilize and gain strength and often, but not always  but often,  as we get around to later December into January, we turn the corner and it becomes much more dormant until we roll things around into  the spring with free water percolating down to the old dormant, weak layer, so hopefully it’ll be the case this year  as well as we turn the corner in the coming weeks and maybe into the new year, but for now, people need to be on their toes.”

You can always get the most update report online at utahavalanchecenter.org – or check the snow report on our page, kpcw.org.

Tough but fair, Leslie is the woman most of Park City wakes up with every weekday morning. Leslie has been at KPCW since 1990 and her years at KPCW have given her depth and insight, guiding her as she asks local leaders and citizens the questions on everyone’s minds during the live interviews of the Local News Hour.