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Unusual storm leads to rare avalanche advisory for benches, foothills

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SALT LAKE CITY — High accumulations of snow in valleys along the Wasatch Front led Utah Avalanche Center forecasters to put out an advisory they said they rarely use, asking people to watch out for potential avalanche conditions in the benches and foothills.

“It is just pounding here in the valleys, where we’re measuring total snowfall by feet, whereas up in the mountains, we’re only getting inches of snow,” said Utah Avalanche Center forecaster Craig Gordon.

The special avalanche advisory extends from the Utah-Idaho state line down to Utah County and runs through Tuesday. It was issued to warn those unaccustomed to avalanche danger about the considerable danger.

While the typical sledding hill in a public park may be safe, Gordon said steep areas off the beaten path could be dangerous.

“Snow that starts to sluff around you, if you’re on a sled, could quickly bury you,” Gordon said. “You simply want to avoid steep slopes and definitely any of what we call terrain traps, any gully features, where somebody small could be buried deeply.”

UAC forecaster Craig Gordon. (Photo: Mike Anderson, KSL TV)
UAC forecaster Craig Gordon. (Photo: Mike Anderson, KSL TV)

Gordon said this kind of advisory doesn’t happen often in the valleys. While it is only an advisory, he said the potential for danger is very real, especially for little children.

“If you start walking into our foothills, into those steep areas that are around our valley, that’s when you definitely want to have a heads up about the terrain that you’re starting to enter into,” Gordon said.

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Mike Anderson
Mike Anderson often doubles as his own photographer, shooting and editing most of his stories. He came to KSL in April 2011 after working for several years at various broadcast news outlets.


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