Avalanche Traps Skiers at Alta and Snowbird

Avalanche Traps Skiers at Alta and Snowbird

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A controlled avalanche in Little Cottonwood Canyon Tuesday afternoon swept across the road and trapped skiers at Alta and Snowbird ski resorts.

The Utah Department of Transportation said it was working to clear state Route 210, but there was danger of more avalanches from heavy snowfall.

"It's not good to have the road open when you're lobbing artillery," said UDOT spokesman Tom Hudachko.

Highway crews set off three avalanches in Little Cottonwood Canyon on Tuesday, unleashing one 200-foot-wide, 4-foot-deep slide that swept across the road at the White Pine area.

Highway crews hoped to reopen the road in the evening, allowing skiers to get home.

Alta and Snowbird were requiring visitors to stay inside buildings after the lifts shut down.

"We've gotten 14 inches since it started snowing this morning," said Snowbird spokeswoman Laura Schaffer, who said the snow was falling as hard as three inches at hour. "It's huge. This is not a storm that anyone was expecting, and it's just been pounding snow all day long."

Skiers were warned to leave Little Cottonwood Canyon at 2 p.m. for controlled avalanche work, she said. Those who didn't leave by then were held back.

"There are quite a few people in the Snowbird Center. The coffee shop is full of people," she said.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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