National

Jan 25, 2010 6:21 PM by Associated Press

8 dead in Western avalanches so far this winter

Avalanches have killed eight people in the West so far this winter. The latest was a Utah skier who died Sunday when a wall of snow broke away near Snowbasin resort.

Utah Avalanche Center Director Bruce Tremper says more than a month of drought conditions followed by last week's storms created deep, slide-prone layers of heavy snow atop a weak layer near the ground.

Some avalanches have been 10 feet deep and a half-mile wide. He says some "astoundingly huge" avalanches have been triggered by the weight of just one person.

Perilous conditions in Utah's mountain backcountry are expected to persist for several more days.

Other avalanche fatalities this year have been recorded in Idaho, Colorado, Oregon, Wyoming and Montana.

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