Backcountry warning issued as avalanche dangers persist throughout Utah


Courtesy: Utah Avalanche Center

UTAH (NewsNation Now) — As a bitterly cold arctic air mass continues to cover the U.S., leaving a trail of snow, ice and bitter cold from coast to coast, officials continue to advise Utah residents of high avalanche danger Sunday.

Officials continue to advise Utah residents of high avalanche danger, Sunday.

The National Weather Service has issued a backcountry avalanche warning for all mountains in the state of Utah until Tuesday evening.

Most roads leading to backcountry areas remain close as high avalanche danger persists throughout the weekend.

“Thanks for your patience during avalanche closure today! High traffic volumes and back ups currently on #SR210. Avoid blocking neighborhood access on Wasatch Blvd and expect uphill delays. #TravelWise,” the Utah’s Department of Transportation tweeted.

A total of 20 people nationwide have died in avalanches during the 2020-2021 season, 16 of which were skiers or snowboarders, the Salt Lake Tribune reported. 

 A man was found dead after an avalanche in a popular area for backcountry skiing in Colorado on Sunday.

The man had been skiing alone before the avalanche in the Mount Trelease area, 57 miles west of Denver near Interstate 70, when the avalanche happened, the Clear Creek Sheriff’s Office said. Members of the Alpine Rescue Team found the man’s body in the avalanche debris field about two hours later, the office said.

His name will not be released until his relatives are notified.

The man is the ninth person to be killed by an avalanche in Colorado this winter and the 23rd in the United States, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. The average number of people killed in Colorado avalanches each season is six.

In Colorado, the snowpack is exceptionally weak this year with the avalanche danger as bad as it has been since 2012, prompting a renewed warning from the center for backcountry users to be careful during the long Presidents Day weekend.

On Saturday, a snowboarder survived after being caught in an avalanche near East Vail even though his head was buried under about a foot-and-a-half (0.5 meters) of snow, according to the center. The snowboarder was able to make an air pocket in front of his face and breathe in oxygen with a filtration device called an AvaLung, which also keeps carbon dioxide from accumulating near the face, the center said. His partner was able to find and recover him within about 10 minutes using the signal from a transceiver, the center said.

The Associated Press and NewsNation affiliate KTVX contributed to this report.

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