LOGAN — Logan Canyon, US-89, reopened late Wednesday morning after three avalanches shut the canyon down for almost a day.
Paige Pagnucco is an avalanche forecaster for UDOT and the Utah Avalanche Center. She was near the area at the time of Tuesday’s slides, and said a couple hundred feet of roadway was covered with three-to-five feet of debris.
“Historically the Dugway has avalanched in the past under similar circumstances, where we have this sort of rapid warming event, a rain on snow event,” explained Pagnucco. “So we were keeping our eyes open, but it’s a really hard thing to time. You just don’t know when it’s going to happen, when it’s going to reach that tipping point.”
No one was injured or caught in the avalanches.
So far this year, the canyon has been closed three times for avalanches or avalanche danger. Pagnucco said she and officials from UDOT are exploring ways to try and prevent slides in the future.
“There is a variety of problems, depending on where you are in the canyon and we would have to take a different approach in each area. Right now, time seems to be our best friend. Letting the weather settle down, the rain stop and temperatures cool.”
She is hopeful that in the years to come they will be able to manage the problem more efficiently and reduce the amount of canyon closures.
The recent weather is combining to create areas of unstable snow at all elevations. An avalanche warning remains in effect for the area, due to heavy snowfall, rain and strong winds that are forecast to continue.
Pagnucco said even though the canyon is open, the avalanche danger is still high, and everyone who is heading into the mountains should be cautious.
“If they think they are going into avalanche terrain, we want them to carry an avalanche transceiver, as well as a shovel and a probe, which is standard rescue equipment. Also just be advised that this is an unusual year.”
Avalanche advisories are kept updated at <a href=”https://utahavalanchecenter.org/” target=”_blank”>utahavalanchecenter.org</a>.