SnowBrains is saddened to report that an avalanche forecaster with the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) died today after being trapped in an avalanche in Big Cottonwood Canyon.
The 34-year-old male forecaster was testing snowpack stability in Big Cottonwood Canyon when he was swept away in an avalanche. Officials are unclear wether he started the avalanche or if it was triggered elsewhere. Fellow UDOT employees reported this forecaster missing at 7:39pm.
A helicopter search and rescue team was able to locate the forecasters body.
“A Life Flight helicopter flew into the canyon while there was still daylight, and crews spotted Patterson’s body in the Cardiff Fork area.” – Salt Lake Tribune
This is a very sad situation due to the fact that these avalanche forecasters are out there on the front lines for us. We need them in order to stay safe in the mountains. We need their knowledge, years of experience, and expertise. They put themselves at risk anytime there is avalanche potential in order to keep us safe.
We want to take this moment to thank all the hard working avalanche forecasters in the USA. Thank you very much ladies and gentlemen, we very much appreciate what you do and today we are beginning to fully understand the risks you take on our behalf. Thank you.