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Weatherblog: More snow, avalanche danger hits Red Zone

The avalanche hazard in the Vail-Summit backcountry has hit the red zone, with triggered slides probable on steeper north to east-facing slopes above treeline. Click on the image for an explanation of the danger ratings.

Winter storm warnings and advisories issued, the avalanche danger climbs to ‘high’ in the local backcountry, more snow on the way

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — It’s a powder day in Summit County, with up to 7 inches of new snow (Breckenridge and Beaver Creek) reported from around the Vail and Summit ski resorts. Copper reported 4 inches, with 3 inches at Keystone and 2 inches at A-Basin, which is now reporting a 35-inch base.

Steamboat also picked up 7 inches, while Winter Park benefited the most from the recent storm’s upslope component, picking up 8 inches to win the Colorado snowfall derby.

Get the statewide snow report here, and the Vail Resorts snow report here.

The new snow has kicked the avalanche danger into the red zone, with a high risk of triggered slides on north the east-facing slopes above treeline. Forecasters recommend that backcountry travelers avoid high-elevation slopes 30 degrees and steeper with wind-loaded north to east aspects.

A complex weather pattern with shifting flows could help fuel more widespread snow around the state the next few days, first in the southern mountains under a southwest flow, then shifting to the northern mountains by Saturday afternoon, according to the forecasters with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, who are calling from anywhere between 7 and 15 inches of new snow in Vail-Summit forecast area by Saturday evening.

The CAIC forecast also includes this link to an interesting weather animation.

The avalanche danger will increase with more snow and wind this weekend. Check the CAIC web site for the latest information and call the local hotline at (970) 668-0600 before heading into the backcountry.

After a short lull Sunday morning, more stormy weather could be headed our way early next week. For now, the National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning for many areas close to Summit County, including the eastern Mosquito Range and eastern Lake County above 11,000 feet, the eastern Sawatch Mountains around Mount Elbert and Mount Massive, the central mountains around Monarch Pass and Wolf Creek Pass, where a couple of feet of snow could fall through Sunday morning.

A winter weather advisory, calling for 5 to 10 inches of snow, is in effect for the mountains just west and south of Summit County, including the Gore and Elk ranges, parts of Chaffee County, as well as Aspen, Snowmass and Vail.

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