El Nino Delivers Creating Dangerous Avalanche Conditions

Utah’s northern mountains can thank the weather occurrence of El Nino for this year’s snowy weather.

With even more snow forecast for this week, Utah is enjoying higher than average snow totals this winter. As News for Utah Meteorologist Devon Lucie told us Monday, we can thank El Nino.

El Nino is part of  a routine climate pattern that forms due to a large area of warmer than normal ocean water. A strong El Nino typically results in heavier than normal rain along the west coast of the United States.

El Nino actually went into effect. Now what you have to have are water temperatures off of the coast of South America  being detected as being that El Nino Phenomena. That is has to go on for three months. It’s been going on.   It’s happened for 3 months so now they say, officially we’re   in an El Nino.  But what that points out is our very active weather pattern that’s occurred. Thank you, El Nino.”

As storms have moved into northern Utah, there have been, at times, some ferocious winds with those storms – shutting down chairlifts and creating dangerous conditions in the back country.

On Saturday, a skier triggered a slide in the Guardsman’s Pass area. Utah Avalanche Forecaster Trent Meisenheimer visited the site on Sunday. The skier he says  was the 4th one on the slope that day.

“Over the weekend,” Meisenheimer said, “we had a number of avalanches triggered. And actually, just around the corner there in Guardsman Pass we had a skier hit like a jump and when he landed into the slope, it avalanched two to three  feet deep and about 200 feet wide and the skier was taken down the slope and he was fully buried – everything but just a ski tip sticking out. They were able to dig him out ok – no injuries – and he was not harmed so that’s really good news. And  that just  brings us to a really great point –   if you are going to travel in the backcountry, beacon shovel, probe – those are the three minimum pieces of gear that you need at all times.”

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Another skier-triggered avalanche happened Saturday off Clayton’s Peak – also near Guardsman’s Pass on a northeast aspect. The slide was about 300 feet wide and up to  3 feet deep.

“And most of these avalanches are happening within the new snow,” said Meisenheimer. So, basically the winds have whipped up the new snow into what we called wind slab avalanches or wind-drifted snow. And that’s really our main concern out there.    And these wind slabs and drifts are just scattered through the terrain so it’s hard to say this slope is good and this one is bad.    It’s realty just everything there’s a chance of that wind-blown snow around all aspects and elevations.”

Be sure to check the back country conditions at www.utahavalanchecenter.org and remember to always have a beacon, shovel, and probe on you at all times and know how to use them.

See the original story at kpcw.org.

Heber Valley Artisan Cheese held their 2nd annual Ice Sculptures Exhibition this weekend. Several local businesses sponsored the sculptures being displayed. There were also two different ice carving demonstrations. The event was free to the public.

The annual event began last year when Carolee Kohler saw ice sculpting on a Hallmark movie and thought it would be a fun idea for their farm. They are also considering a woodcarving event.

According to Lindsey Strother, social media and events coordinator, each sculpture takes between 1-3 hours to carve. “We contacted Amazing Ice Creations back in November, and we reached out to local companies to sponsor the ice sculptures,” she said. “Yesterday morning around 9 am, they came in a massive truck and dropped them all off for us, and we set them up.”

Along with the ice sculptures, sponsors receive a sign and canopy for the display and social media marketing. The sponsors decide what they want to have sculpted. After the event, they can take the ice sculptures and display them at their businesses. The creations normally last a couple of weeks. Some will be left in the field and can be viewed throughout the week.

The ice this year included Olaf, company logos, animals, and other items. Darron Kingston, the sculptor, has carved ice for over 10 years with his dad. According to Kingston, “I like sculptures that give me a challenge. Here, for example, my favorite was the lumberjack.” One of his favorite past creations was a 9-foot bear.

Grant Kohler, owner of Heber Valley Artisan Cheese, explained, “We decided to do something that was free and something that people could just get out and come and enjoy. Especially this year with Covid, it seems like Januarys are slow months. People are looking for things to be able to get outside and do.” He continued, “Businesses pay in and buy the sculptures, we have them sculpted, and then we just let people come and enjoy them.” Kohler estimated around 3,000 to 4,000 people will stop by the event.

The dairy farm also offers cheese-making classes and tours of their new robotic barn. “The tours are everyday except Sunday,” according to Kohler. “People hayride over, intermingle with the cows, see the barn and amenities, and watch the cows be milked. The cows will literally go get milked on their own.” Tickets for the tours and other events are available on the Heber Valley Artisan Cheese website: https://hebervalleyartisancheese.com/.