Summit County sees over 100 crashes amid snowstorm
The recent snowstorm created difficult conditions for drivers and skiers alike this weekend.
The Summit County Sheriff’s Office says it fielded more than 100 emergency calls from drivers over the weekend. The Utah Avalanche Center reported dozens of avalanches, too.
The avalanche danger across northern Utah remains high Monday. In the Uintas, it’s moderate.
“We've also gone through a widespread natural- and human-triggered avalanche cycle within the past 24 to 48 hours,” UAC forecaster Trent Meisenheimer said.
UAC forecaster Trent Meisenheimer said 26 avalanches were reported this weekend, with multiple backcountry riders getting caught and carried.
“Some of these avalanches are like 2 to 3 feet deep, up to 300 to 800 feet wide,” he said. “They're very, very dangerous avalanches that we have going on right now.”
The UAC says, luckily, no one was injured in the recent slides.
Meisenheimer attributes the elevated avalanche danger to a persistent weak layer. With almost three feet of snowfall at upper elevations and strong winds, the snowpack hasn’t compacted and bonded—a process called “sintering.”
He says that means heading into the sidecountry and backcountry is a bad idea.
“Do not do it,” Meisenheimer said. “Let the snowpack settle and heal, and do not ride avalanche terrain today [Dec. 4].”
Slopes steeper than 30 degrees are the ones to watch out for, he says. Anyone on or below them could be at risk.
The other risky area this weekend: roads.
Summit County Sheriff Chief Deputy Kacey Bates received 131 911 calls, and 118 of those required tow trucks.
“Our dispatch center is short staffed at this time, and actually they have answered almost 100% of the calls in under 10 seconds,” Bates said. “I commend them for that; that's a tough job.”
Late Dec. 2, a truck slid off Matterhorn Drive in the farthest corner of Summit Park. It tumbled down a slope and hit a garage on Parkview Drive below.
The driver, the only occupant, had minor injuries and was cited for driving under the influence. Bates says it took six hours to clean up the scene, due to snow.
According to Park City Tow, a similar slideoff happened in the same place one year ago.