Serious avalanche accidents in the backcountry are likely on New Year’s Eve

There’s an avalanche warning issued for most of the state until Saturday at 6 a.m.

Serious avalanche accidents are likely to happen in the backcountry as Utahns ring in the new year, forecasters predict.

The Utah Avalanche Center issued an avalanche warning for the mountains of much of the state from 6 a.m. this Friday to 6 a.m. on Saturday. This includes the Wasatch Range, Bear River Range, Uinta mountains, the Manti-Skyline, the Fish Lake region, Pahvants, Tushars and the Cedar City area mountains.

“Being caught in any avalanche is likely to be unsurvivable,” the warning read. “Stay off of and out from under slopes steeper than 30 degrees.”

Avalanches this morning in Little Cottonwood Canyon were running near historic maximum distances, the Avalanche Center reported on Twitter.

There have been storms in the last days of 2021, leaving a few feet of fresh powder on mountain slopes. Along with hurricane-force winds, there is now a weak layer of snow near the ground.

“With a sunny weekend on tap, we anticipate an uptick in backcountry activity and the potential for backcountry travelers to inadvertently trigger one of these large, dangerous, and potentially unsurvivable avalanches,” reported the Utah Avalanche Center in a press release.

Safer travel conditions are on lower-angled slopes and in sunny, sheltered terrain, the center reported. However, the center recommends checking the avalanche forecast on its website before heading to the backcountry. As of now, the danger ratings are high for most of the region, from Logan to Southwest.

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