Garrett Luke Gordan of Ephraim was snowboarding at about 1 p.m. when he was swept up in an avalanche near the top of Ephraim Canyon, said Andy Lyon, a Sanpete County Sheriff's Office sergeant.
Gordan, who was carrying an avalanche beacon, was buried for about a half hour before friends dug him out. They administered CPR until Sanpete County searchers arrived and called in a Life Flight helicopter. The 26-year-old was flown to Utah Valley Regional Medical Center in Provo where he was pronounced dead.
An hour later, a snowmobiler was buried in an avalanche east of Mount Pleasant in the Choke Cherry Ridge area, Lyon said. David Wayne Johnson, 42, of South Jordan, was dug out by searchers and flown to Sanpete Valley Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Craig Gordon, an avalanche forecaster at the U.S. Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center, said this winter is shaping up to be an unusual - and deadly - season for avalanches. Six people have perished in slides so far this winter, equaling the death toll of 2000-2001, according to Avalanche Center records.
"This is an unusual weather pattern, and unusual weather tends to produce unusual avalanches," Gordon said. A steady stream of storms in the region have brought high winds, heavy snowfall and fluctuating temperatures - "the perfect recipe for a slab avalanche," he said.
On Saturday, the mountains were blasted with winds up to 100 mph and between 6 and 8 inches of snow was forecast that night, said Bruce Tremper, director of the Avalanche Center.
"It's kind of a 'triple whammy,' as we call it," he said. "We get snow, dense and heavy, extremely strong winds and warming temperatures. People without good avalanche skills should definitely avoid the backcountry."
Avalanche danger continues to be high for all Utah mountains, even for low-elevation terrain, Tremper said.
While snow, rain and wind pelted other parts of Utah, Saturday in the Salt Lake Valley was sunny and dry. Though strong southerly winds whipped through parts of Salt Lake City on Friday night and Saturday, the majority of a large West Coast storm wasn't expected to produce snow in the valley until after midnight.
"The main storm itself is somewhat stationary along the West Coast," National Weather Service meteorologist Alex Tardy said.
Several inches of snow fell Saturday afternoon in Logan, Price and Heber, Tardy said. Alta Ski Resort has received about 18 inches of new snow since Friday, 6 of which fell Saturday, he said.
Winds gusting 30 to 40 mph were recorded in Salt Lake County, with some gusts reaching as high as 49 mph at the airport, Tardy said. High winds reaching up to 90 mph continued blowing in areas of the Wasatch Mountains.
Snow in Salt Lake City could turn to light rain today with temperatures reaching the mid 40s. More rain was expected Monday, with snow returning to the valley Tuesday, Tardy said.