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Avalanche danger: Storms ease, but snowslide risks elevated

Published January 31, 2013 7:47 am

Wasatch Front • Backcountry caution urged for winter recreationists.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A series of northern Utah snowstorms may have abated, but the Utah Avalanche Center is warning that the potential for deadly backcountry mountain snowslides remains elevated.

Avalanche forecaster Brett Kobernik said Thursday that recent storms have led to dangerous conditions on steep terrain along the Wasatch Front's peaks, slopes and mountain valleys.

Kobernik said Wednesday's snowstorm yielded a "major change in snow conditions" along the region's mountain slopes.

Kobernik explained that "higher density snow fell, coupled with strong winds," created an "'upside down' layering situation," which is characterized by a "crust varying in thickness and distribution through the central Wasatch Range."

"There is a considerable avalanche danger in many areas today in the mid- and upper elevations. It is no time to be getting onto steep avalanche paths. Use ridges for backcountry travel and stay out from underneath steep slopes as well," Kobernik advised winter recreationists.

The Utah Avalanche Center's website began Thursday by rating most of the state's mountain slopes at "considerable" risk for dangerous snowslides, though a "high" risk grade was in place for the Logan district. Friday's preliminary avalanche risk grades put the Uintas and Skyline districts at "high" risk and Salt Lake, Provo, Logan and the remaining mountain areas at "moderate."

remims@sltrib.com