Despite the sunny weather, triggered and natural slides likely on wind-loaded slopes; several significant avalanches reported the past few days
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — A couple of days of sunny and warmer weather has lured skiers and riders into the backcountry, but forecasters with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center are warning to watch out for “fat cornices and plump-looking slopes,” where there is a good chance for large and dangerous slides.
The latest CAIC bulletin reports that there was a full burial near Beaver Creek Saturday and describes several other large avalanches from around the region, including in popular backcountry side-country areas like Loveland Pass. Another large avalanche, fracturing up to eight feet deep, ran in the Tenmile Range Friday. Get more details at the CAIC’s website.
Near and above treeline on northeast to southeast-facing slopes, the avalanche danger is still rated as considerable, meaning that both natural and triggered slides are likely. The wind has been the big factor the past few days, transporting last week’s snow into avalanche starting zones and building thick, brittle slabs, which in some cases is setting up tight as a drum.
More winds, gusting up to 60 mph, are forecast Sunday, potentially building more slabs at higher elevations. Steady winds across the ridges can easily deposit as much new snow as a steady snowfall. Sunny weather sometimes lulls backcountry riders into a misplaced sense of complacency. If you look up at the peaks and ridges, you can see the streamers of snow. It all drops down on the lee side eventually, and that’s where the slabs are still building up.
There’s still plenty of new snow to be moved around, and the winds are strong enough to deposit slabs far down in starting zones. One of the recent backcountry avalanches may have been triggered from well down on the slope below the fracture line, the CAIC reports.
Filed under: avalanches, climate and weather, snow, Snow and weather Tagged: | backcountry avalanche danger, backcountry skiing, Colorado Avalanche Information Center, Colorado news, Summit County News, wind slab