SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — There were 13 avalanches in the mountains ranging from Provo to Ogden on Saturday, Apr. 22, catching and carrying eight people down the terrain, according to the Utah Avalanche Center.
The UAC is reporting 13 wind-slab avalanches in just one day and is expecting similar reactivity today. The avalanches caught and carried a total of 8 people, and did not report any injuries. The center said the avalanche danger today from Provo to Logan is designated as moderate.
While these avalanches were all triggered by humans, the wet snow conditions facilitate “avalanches that could run fast and far on the underlying slick crusts,” the center reported.
The center recommends looking toward the north, shady side of the slopes for dry, new snow becoming damp. This is a warning sign of reactive Wet Loose avalanches and can occur at all elevations.
Yesterday, one group reported this phenomenon in Big Cottonwood Canyon as the sun appeared, “instantly zapping the cold, dry snow, making it wet and loose,” according to the center.
Another problem comes from slabs of wind-drifted snow in mid to upper elevations. Authorities report that the terrain will determine how dangerous these kinds of avalanches can be as “small avalanches in high-consequence terrain can be just as deadly as large avalanches in mellow terrain.”
Some signs of unstable snow are cracks in the snow, the ground feeling hollow underneath, and “surface patterns on the snow made by the force of strong winds,” according to the National Weather Service.
The center is reminding everyone that spring temperatures “change everything,” saying to “be quick to alter your plans and tune into changing conditions.”
There have been more than 1,000 reported avalanches in the state and in southeast Idaho since last November, according to the UAC’s data.