Utah Avalanche Center Warns Skiers Of 'Dangerous And Tricky' Slabs Triggered

Yesterday, the Utah Avalanche Center posted to X (twitter) reminding skiers to stay safe, and stay aware of snow conditions as well as their surroundings.

The center reported that "hard slabs of wind drifted snow have been triggered the last couple of days. Even though they have been shallow, they've been dangerous and tricky."

As a reminder, a hard slab avalanche is a slab avalanche of relatively dense, compacted snow.

The latest observation in Utah Avalanche Center's database is from March 9th and shows an avalanche in Goosebury, Southwest Utah. This photo, of a soft slab avalanche, was caused by wind drifted snow, as opposed to wind compacted snow. The slide was triggered by a snowmobile. See below.

The photo accompanying the observation. <a href="https://utahavalanchecenter.org/avalanche/85406" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Courtesy of Utah Avalanche Center/Charlie Ogden.;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Courtesy of Utah Avalanche Center/Charlie Ogden.</a>
The photo accompanying the observation. Courtesy of Utah Avalanche Center/Charlie Ogden.

Hard slabs, on the other hand, are hard and dense enough that it is difficult to push a single finger into them and are often characterized by hard, blocky debris.

Hard slabs can be thin and are formed from heavily wind compacted snow. The thicker variety of slab avalanches are formed as the snow hardens under the weight of several storm events.

These types of avalanches pose the threat of breaking above you as opposed to by your feet. Hard slabs are difficult to manage because the stiffer slabs tend to give less feedback, and are also notorious for unpredictable failures.

Skiers are most likely to trigger a hard slab avalanche from a thinner or softer part of the slab, such as near rock outcrops or near the edge of a slope.

This morning started out at a ranking of low avalanche danger for Utah, but that does not mean there is no danger.

The avalanche center writes, "it may be possible to trigger small avalanches in isolated terrain."

As always, enjoy the snow, but do so with safety in mind. Ski and ride with a friend, study the conditions daily, and bring the proper avalanche gear.

Related: Vermont's Mad River Glen Reporting 30 Inch Storm Total

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