Monday's Storm Raises Avalanche Danger

Monday's Storm Raises Avalanche Danger

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News Specialist Jed Boal reportingThe weird winter weather just won't stop on the Wasatch Front. Yesterday's storm brought heavy snow and renewed danger for avalanches.

One avalanche forecaster put it this way -- we had a Portland-type of storm on top of a Colorado-type base.

The unusual is very usual this winter.

Six to eight inches of heavy snow in the mountains is more than any other storm this month.

Enough for Brett Pelletier to ski into the backcountry -- but he'll play it safe today.

"The conditions are pretty dangerous right now. There's some pretty loose faceted snow down low and wet, heavy snow on top of that. It's going to make some pretty big avalanches if we do get a lot of snow," Pelletier says.

Clear January skies rotted the snow pack into weak sugary snow. The new heavy snow could easily slide.

"Today there's pretty widespread avalanche activity, everywhere above 8,500 feet people are getting a lot of avalanches, especially with control work, and you can get them with ski cuts or snowmobiles," says Bruce Tremper, and avalanche forecaster.

Randy Julander of the Utah Snow Survey points out that any drop in the bucket helps, but this was just one drop. The skiers we talked to, however, are ready to take advantage of any snow we get.

"I've really been enjoying the warmth. I have hope that it's going to come. What's here, I'm going to take advantage of it," says skier Marybeth Cresse.

We all expect more snow will fall in February and April. According to records dating back to the 1940s, only the winter of 1976 had less snow pack at the end of January.

"There's only one year I can see in the past that's drier than this year as far as the snow pack at Alta by this date," Tremper says.

Historically, though, there may be some good news. In years when it's been dry up to this point, the spring usually finishes with a normal flourish.

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