Storm drops 47″ in 48 hours, Extreme Avalanche Danger

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah. — The most recent storm cycle brought plentiful snow to the Salt Lake Area over the past two days, with the U.S. National Weather Service reporting up to 47″ at Alta. This significant snowfall has closed Little Cottonwood Canyon as of 8:30 a.m. with no estimated opening. Public safety for the town of Alta posted a request on Twitter this morning for building head counts after declaring “Max Security Interlodge.” Interlodged means residents, employees, and guests in the area must remain indoors until given an all-clear of avalanche danger.

Those at Alta ski area are currently interlodged, meaning residents, employees and guests must remain indoors until given an all-clear of avalanche danger. According to Alta ski area's website, the all-time record consecutive interlodge was 52 hours during the 2019-20 ski season.
Those at Alta ski area are currently interlodged, which could last for a few hours or days. According to Alta’s website, the all-time record for consecutive interlodge was 52 hours, which occurred during the 2019-20 ski season.

The Powder Buoy, Parkite Mike Ruzek, posted an image of the avalanche danger ‘rose’ to Instagram today, writing, “I know for a fact I have never seen this before. This is basically the defcon level 1 (highest level) of avalanche and snow instability warnings. Any avalanche terrain is suspect, even if you are on a hike or walking your dog and there is a slope above you…”

The Utah Avalanche Center (UAC) has a tutorial on how to read a danger rose.

“We designed the avalanche danger rose to show, at a glance, the avalanche danger in avalanche terrain by aspect and elevation,” UAC says of the rose on their website. “It represents a single mountain with the danger ratings painted on the mountain presented in 3-D to make it easier to visualize. The shape is based on the standard rose diagram used in Europe, which is not round or octagonal-shaped but with ridges and gullies like real mountain.”

Education helps people “know before they go” outside and recreate in backcountry terrain. There are multiple resources and tutorials on their site as well, from essential gear to Utah resort uphill policies. Below is the full avalanche report for Feb. 17 from the UAC.

Utah Avalanche Center Forecast for the Salt Lake Area Mountains

Report issued by Trent Meisenheimer, Wednesday, February 17, 2021


Today the avalanche danger is EXTREME on all aspects and elevations. Avoid being under or near any steep slope. Even very small slopes can bury a person.

Heavy snowfall and a weak faceted snowpack have created very dangerous avalanche conditions. Natural and human-triggered avalanches are certain. Even unusual avalanches are possible in atypical terrain on atypical aspects and elevations.

Anybody going into or near the mountains today should avoid being near or under any steep slope – this includes skiing, snowshoeing, running, sledding, dog walking, etc.

The Utah Avalanche Center goes over “unsurvivable avalanches” during a day of fieldwork in American Fork.

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