SALT LAKE CITY — Utah avalanche experts are warning backcountry skiers to be extra cautious due to a thin early season snowpack that is the lowest in four decades.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that a weather gauge near the top of Little Cottonwood Canyon east of Salt Lake City shows that fewer than 50 inches of snow had fallen by Jan. 1. That’s the lowest total for that date since 1977.

Drew Hardesty, a forecaster with the U.S. Forest Service’s Utah Avalanche Center, says the thin early season snow can quickly become weak, sugary-like snow that breaks.

Nobody has died in an avalanche this winter but Hardesty is warning backcountry skiers to use extra caution.

Hardesty says avalanche deaths exceeded the yearly average of 2.8 in each of the last three winters when the snowpack was less than 100 inches by Jan. 1.


Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune, http://www.sltrib.com

Author photo
The AP is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering. AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, as a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members, it can maintain its single-minded focus on newsgathering and its commitment to the highest standards of objective, accurate journalism.