Warmer Weather Raises Avalanche Danger

Warmer Weather Raises Avalanche Danger

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Alex Cabrero reporting It's the first day of winter. But a milder change in the weather has people promoting avalanche safety.

Dean Cardinale, Wasatch Backcountry Rescue: "That fast rapid warming can make those surfaces slide or slough and move around."

Last year was deadly in Utah for people in the backcountry. Eight people died in avalanches. The most since the state started tracking them. Rescue teams hope that number decreases.

All this warm weather we've been having is great to get outside,especially after last weeks cold weather. But for back-country lovers, warm can equal danger. As beautiful as it is, it can turn deadly in an instant.

Dean Cardinale, Wasatch Backcountry Rescue: "I can't think of anybody who's been in an avalanche that really thought it would happen, or they'd avoid it in the first place."

Dean Cardinale heads the Wasatch Backcountry Rescue team, and boy were they busy last year.

Lots of avalanches... rescues... and unfortunately... deaths.

It often happens when cold weather is followed by warm weather, like last week to this week.

Dean Cardinale, Wasatch Backcountry Rescue: "That drives the snow and makes the underlying snow layers weaker."

Warmer Weather Raises Avalanche Danger

That is exactly what's going on in some areas already. There was a small slide up Little Cottonwood Canyon.

The warm weather can cause snow to slide in no time.

Dean Cardinale, Wasatch Backcountry Rescue: "It makes them more grainy like sugar, less bonds in the crystals, and then we start to see a warm trend like today, where it really warms up. The surface of that snow is feeling heat radiation."

Bbut a day like this is supposed to be fun for skiers.

Karen Michael: "It's beautiful, it's great, the backside was wonderful."

"This is the best day ever."

While that may be exaggerating, the potential danger in the backcountry is no joke.

Dean Cardinale, Wasatch Backcountry Rescue: "It's beautiful out, but you definitely... You don't want to let your guard down

Before heading into the backcountry, it's always a good idea to call the Utah Avalanche Center, or check out the link to the right.

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