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Avalanche danger high for mid and lower elevations in Northern Utah

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) – The nearly two feet of new snow along the Wasatch Mountains was too enticing for avid skiers, but the thrill of getting fresh snow comes at a risk.
SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) – The nearly two feet of new snow along the Wasatch Mountains was too enticing for avid skiers, but the thrill of getting fresh snow comes at a risk.

Around 5 o’clock Saturday afternoon an avalanche buried 43-year-old Elisabeth Malloy. Luckily, emergency crews say, she had a partner with her who was prepared and able to dig her out quickly.

United Police Lt. Justin Hoyal said, "He had the necessary avalanche gear and was actually able to get over to her, dig her out from under the snow and resuscitate her as she had stopped breathing for a short period of time."

Avalanche experts say this latest storm has thrown a curve ball at the current snow pack. Unlike most avalanche dangers, instead of higher elevations, right now we're seeing the danger in lower elevations.

Avalanche forecaster Craig Gordon told ABC 4 News "It's in the mid and lower elevations, the areas that have been protected by the wind that actually the pre-existing snow pack is much weaker and now it got walloped by 1 to 2 feet of snow in this latest series of storms."

What makes things particularly tricky, Gordon says, is skiers can trigger avalanches from hundreds of feet away.

"You can trigger avalanches on your way up or halfway down the slope,” said Gordon.

Gordon says all back country skiers should take Malloy’s close call as a warning.

"Remember even experienced people are being tricked by the conditions,” said Gordon. “It's best to play it safe, tone down your slope angles, there's plenty of winter left to ride."
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