ST. GEORGE — Travelers this Christmas holiday aiming for a white Christmas were not disappointed if they headed to parts of northern Utah where more than a foot of snow dumped in the upper elevations and several inches fell along the Wasatch Front. Recreationists heading out to make merry in the snow are advised to take precautions as a backcountry avalanche warning is in effect for much of northern Utah.
The National Weather Service reported 16 inches of snow had fallen early Monday at Park City, with 5 inches or more in Bountiful, South Ogden, West Haven and West Weber.
Salt Lake International Airport reported 4 inches of new snow on the ground.
The snow is expected to end Monday afternoon but the avalanche warning remains in effect through 6 a.m. Tuesday for the Bear River Range, western Uintas and all the Wasatch range, including Ogden, Provo, Salt Lake and the Park City area.
The U.S. Forest Service Avalanche Center in Salt Lake City reports the danger is high because the wet snow is especially heavy.
Utah Department of Transportation has no published alerts for weather impacts as this report publishes.
Avalanches can move at 80 miles per hour and are nearly impossible to outrun; the best way to stay safe is to avoid getting caught in one.
Backcountry skiers should always check conditions before leaving, travel with others and carry proper emergency beacons and other emergency gear.
Contrary to popular opinion, most avalanches that cause injury or death do not consist of loose snow, but rather are slabs – cohesive plates of snow that break like a pane of glass and slide off the mountainside.
These slabs become the consistency of concrete when they stop moving, making it nearly impossible for an avalanche victim to dig themselves out.
Avalanches don’t strike without warning, the happen at particular times and places for specific reasons.
“In 90 percent of all avalanche accidents, the avalanche is triggered by the victim, or someone in the victim’s party. Natural avalanches occur because new or windblown snow overloads weak layers or because of rapid warning,” officials state.
For more information or to check current avalanche conditions, see the Utah Avalanche Center website or call the Avalanche Advisory Hotline at 888-999-4019.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Content from a previous report by St. George News Reporter Julie Applegate also contributes to this report.
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