Recent snow raises avalanche danger
by Lisa J. Church
Staff Writer
Feb 06, 2014 | 808 views | 0 0 comments | 33 33 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The La Sal Mountains were blanketed in more than a foot of new snow early this week, but the recent precipitation has also increased the danger of avalanches in the area.

“Avalanches within the new snow are probable, and it is possible to trigger a much deeper avalanche into older weak snow,” said Eric Trenbeath, the La Sal Mountain avalanche forecaster for the U.S. Forest Service’s Utah Avalanche Center. “The avalanche danger is high in the wind zone at upper elevations, on slopes steeper than 35 degrees that face north, northeast, and east, where there are recent deposits of wind drifted snow.”

Trenbeath said the La Sals received 15 inches of new powder by Tuesday morning, Feb. 4, and “unsettled weather” is forecast for the week with more significant snow possible on Friday.

He said backcountry travel is not recommended in the areas where the avalanche danger is expected to be high, and noted that the avalanche danger is rated “considerable” on all other slopes steeper than 35 degrees that have recent deposits of wind-drifted snow.

Considerable danger means that natural avalanches are possible and human-triggered avalanches are likely, he said.

Trenbeath urged backcountry travelers to “practice very safe travel techniques, staying off of, and out from under steep, avalanche terrain in the mountains” this week.

For local residents who would like to learn more about recognizing avalanche danger, the Forest Service is offering an avalanche awareness presentation on Thursday, Feb. 6 at the Grand County Library at 6:30 p.m. The presentation is designed to help people learn to recognize avalanche terrain and the factors that influence unstable avalanche conditions, Trenbeath said. All winter backcountry users are invited to attend.

For more information contact Trenbeath at 801-647-8896.

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