Alta residents are finally able to leave their homes after more than 2 days

Little Cottonwood Canyon is now back open to all travel, UDOT says.

(Photo courtesy of the Utah Depart of Transportation) UDOT works to clear SR-210 in Little Cottonwood Canyon.

More than two days after residents of the town of Alta were ordered to stay inside their homes because of avalanche danger, they’re able to step outside again.

The so-called “interlodge” order that went into effect Monday at 11 p.m. was lifted Wednesday at about 10:30 a.m.

“I got a couple of good runs in this morning,” said Mayor Harris Sondak. “There’s still no vehicle traffic in the canyon, or in the town of Alta. We’re released from our residences, but only on foot.”

That changed about three hours later. By 2 p.m., the Utah Department of Transportation reopened outbound traffic and “essential” traffic — employees, residents, rideshares and buses only — was once again allowed up Little Cottonwood Canyon on SR-210. A short while later, UDOT opened the canyon to all travel.

About 3 feet of snow fell on Alta in the past three days — more than a foot on Wednesday — and the danger of avalanches forced residents to stay inside or face a fine. (More than 8 feet of snow fell at the nearby Alta Ski Area from Feb. 12-18.) Sondak said he does not believe that the 59½ hour stay-inside order was the longest in the town’s history, but it was “longer than most. Longer than the 52-hour one last year.”

And, the mayor said, most of the residents rode out it out well. “People who live up here or spend a lot of time up here know to have plenty of supplies,” he said. “I still even had a few fresh vegetables, and I have many pounds of pasta in my pantry. And my freezer’s stocked. As long as the electricity doesn’t go out, we’re in good shape.”

And the electricity stayed on this week.

Non-residents who are staying in condos may not have been as prepared as residents, but Sondak said he had heard no reports of anyone running out of food.

(The population of Alta is about 400, but town officials say they don’t know how many are in their homes.)

Multiple avalanches closed SR-210 for days as crews battle to clear the roads. According to UDOT, there was “historic avalanche activity” with slides across the road “in multiple locations.”

On Wednesday, two UDOT vehicles were caught in an avalanche in Little Cottonwood Canyon; the UDOT employees were uninjured.