Keith McCord ReportingA lot of people are leaving town this weekend, many for recreation spots around Utah. And with all this wet, snowy weather during the past week or so, conditions are ripe for avalanches and snow-slides.
March is usually the wettest month in Utah, but usually the storms are more spread out. The recent storms came one-after-the-other during the past week. Heavy, wet, very deep snow, and it's ready to move, beginning tomorrow.
Bruce Tremper, Dir. Utah Avalanche Center: “This weekend is going to be pretty dangerous. Not quite as bad as the December cycle, but close.”
Bruce Tremper should know, he and members of his staff at the Utah Avalanche Center have been out testing the snow in Utah's mountains.
Bruce Tremper: “It’s almost impossible to forecast avalanches by sitting in an office, because you need to get out and get in the snow, look at the snow, test the snow. Get your hands in it, feel what it’s like.”
Each day they select different places to go; most recently they've worked the Big Cottonwood area, working along ridge tops, kicking out cornices, checking to see how prone a certain area is for a slide.
The consensus right now is the avalanche danger in Utah is "moderate" to "considerable” and going up.
Bruce Tremper: “Considerable is in the middle of the scale -- low, moderate, considerable, high, extreme. And by this weekend I’m guessing we’ll be at high danger.”
It’s "high danger" for both backcountry skiing and snowmobiling, which is of concern because so many people are heading out this weekend. Avalanche forecasters and off-road vehicle safety experts urge everyone to check local conditions, be prepared for emergencies, and have the proper equipment when playing in all the new snow.
Bruce Tremper: "So we're suddenly slamming it with all this warm temperature and sunshine, which makes it wet and wants to turn into wet avalanches and go down the mountain."
This is one of those perfect late season weekends for outdoor enthusiasts--lots of new snow in the mountains and warmer temperatures down south.