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Avalanche covers road, Little Cottonwood Canyon now open


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SALT LAKE COUNTY — Little Cottonwood Canyon was closed because of an avalanche that covered the road overnight. Crews conducted avalanche control before reopening the canyon Thursday morning.

The avalanche broke loose in the Alta area, about two miles up the canyon, just past the Bravo Gate, or the B Gate, around 1 a.m. It covered the road, forcing emergency responders to shut the canyon and enforce inter-lodge restrictions in Alta Township and at Alta and Snowbird ski resorts, meaning guests have been asked to stay in their rooms.

Because this avalanche occurred in the early morning, crews initially could not determine exactly how wide it is. They did not believe anyone was trapped in it. There was no traffic in the area at the time and no vehicles parked along the road or at the trail heads indicating anyone in the backcountry.

Sgt. Corey Latham of the Unified Police Department said, "Snowbird and Alta being destination resorts, they've always got a lot of people up there. So Unified Police Department has one of its officers up there spending the night, as we typically do in these situations, to augment the individuals up there and to help out and maintain communications."

At first light crews began removing the slide from the road and are doing some avalanche control in the canyon. That includes shooting explosive rounds to see just how loose the snowpack is in other potentially dangerous areas.

The canyon reopened just before 9:30 a.m.

An avalanche warning is in effect for the mountains of northern and central Utah.

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