An avalanche and mudslide on Sunday night has completely covered a portion of the highway in Santaquin Canyon, UT with ice and debris. The canyon was closed for the winter, so nobody was there and nobody was injured, but this event will delay the proposed opening of the road.
The slide appears to be as much as 15 feet deep and 100 yards long, said Sgt. Spencer Cannon with the Utah County Sheriff’s Office and flowed out of a chute in an area extremely prone to avalanches.
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The gate is usually opened once the snow has been cleared enough for it to be deemed safe — typically somewhere around Memorial Day. The avalanche happened approximately five miles beyond that gate, Cannon said.
“The opening date will be delayed,” Loyal Clark said. “And we do not have a determination date for that.”
Loyal Clark, the public information officer for the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, said there have actually been two debris slides in the area, and the slide Sunday night piled on top of the first avalanche that happened earlier in the year, according to the Herald Extra.
A team of forest service engineers were on their way to assess road damage and once that assessment is complete, the Forest Service will be able to better determine the canyon’s opening date.
Officials discourage members of the public from hiking up to the area to see the slide. The surface is unstable and the material could start to move again.
“That is an extreme hazard,” Clark said.