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Be cautious of avalanche dangers in early December

Snow hits hard in Utah when it falls, and that new, powdery layer might cause some real problems. A layer of weakened snow, which was deposited in October and is described as "weak and sugary," is underneath a new pile of several feet of snow, all of which was dropped over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

The conditions in Utah make the chances of an avalanche higher than usual, according to the Utah Avalanche Center. On north-facing, steep slopes, it only takes a small trigger to set off an avalanche that could maim or kill.

Anyone who has seen or been part of an avalanche knows how dangerous they are. They have the potential to bury people, push them into trees and carry them over the edges of cliffs.

What's good to know is that most ski resorts with avalanche mitigation tactics are safe for skiing or other snow-based activities. Be on your guard, though, because any avalanche, even a small one, could be devastating.

How does avalanche mitigation work?

Avalanche mitigation techniques include structural measures to divert avalanches, retarding structures and even avalanche triggering, which triggers an avalanche in a controlled environment.

Ski resorts that are allowing individuals into avalanche-prone areas should be using these techniques. If they are not, then they should be putting out warnings or providing people with information about areas where it's safer to ski. If someone is hurt or killed as a result of artificial triggering, an avalanche that is not diverted correctly or other issues directly related to the resort's negligence or errors, then they or their family may have a claim.

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