UDOT plow truck drivers work round-the-clock with new snow

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SALT LAKE CITY — Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons recently received at least a few inches of snow combined. UDOT plow truck drivers are now on-call 24 hours a day to handle the snow.

Forecasters reported about one foot of snow in Big Cottonwood Canyon and at least 24 inches of snow in Little Cottonwood Canyon.

“Avalanche is the main concern, and traffic volume. Little Cottonwood Canyon is rated one of the most dangerous roads, S-R 210 in Utah,” said Sean Lewis, UDOT plow driver.

Lewis said that when he is plowing roads in the canyons, he is also concerned with other drivers on the road.

“I see a lot of unprepared drivers coming up to the canyon,” Lewis said. “Not seeing a lot of people prepared with studded tires or chains.”

And then we had huge amounts of wind gusts over 105 miles per hour. These all came together to give us a high avalanche danger.

–Bruce Tremper, forecaster at Utah Avalanche Center

UDOT is asking drivers to be aware of weather conditions and whether chains or four-wheel-drive are required on their vehicle before heading up to the canyons.

Avalanche forecasters are also sounding the alarm on avalanches, especially for the mountains of northern and central Utah. Monday, the Utah Avalanche Center reported thousands of avalanches over the weekend and into Monday. New wet snow covered the weaker existing snow, making the conditions in the back country susceptible to avalanche slides.

“And then we had huge amounts of wind gusts over 105 miles per hour,” said Bruce Tremper, forecaster at Utah Avalanche Center. “These all came together to give us a high avalanche danger.”

Tremper described the avalanches as slab avalanches that are about three feet deep “that shatter like a pane of glass,” he said. “And then if you’re caught out in the middle of these, it’s like someone pulls a rug from underneath you and then you just roar to the bottom of the mountain.”

Tremper is warning people to stick to the resorts and stay out of the back country.

“If you’re going to places like that,” he said. “You need to be an avalanche expert. You need to carry the avalanche rescue gear.”

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