Visitors to Park City might be alarmed by the sound of explosions along local ridgelines, but the town is not under attack. Utah ski resorts conduct routine avalanche control work that entails setting explosives to trigger potential avalanches before skiers hit the slopes. However, outside the resort's boundaries, skiers, snowboarders and snowmobilers need to take precautions to protect themselves from being caught in a potentially fatal snow slide.
According to the Utah Avalanche Center, which monitors unstable snow conditions and issues daily advisories, the recent snowfall that followed a sustained dry spell has led to considerable hazards in the backcountry.
Here are the local UAC reports as of Friday:
"The danger is CONSIDERABLE for human triggered slides on many slopes approaching 35 degrees and steeper. Avalanches may be triggered at a distance with any slides triggered on west through north through east facing slopes having the potential to step down 1-2' deep or more, creating larger, more dangerous avalanches," UAC's report advised. "Steep lower elevation shady terrain should be avoided due to wet loose avalanche potential."
"In the wind zone, a HIGH avalanche danger exists on steep, mid and upper elevation slopes, particularly those facing the north half of the compass, and human triggered avalanches are likely," UAC's report advised. "Once triggered, today's avalanches will break deep and wide creating an unmanageable and dangerous slide. A MODERATE avalanche danger is found on upper elevation south facing terrain and human triggered avalanches are possible on any steep, wind drifted slope."
Visit and bookmark utahavalanchecenter.org to keep informed and up-to-date on avalanche risks in the Utah backcountry. It could save your life.