SUMMIT COUNTY — With anywhere from 5 to 9 inches of new snow piling atop a tender snowpack riddled with slabs, crusts and faceted crystals, the Colorado Avalanche Information Center has issued an avalanche warning for the North San Juans.
Natural avalanches are likely Sunday night into Monday morning, and backcountry travelers will face hazardous conditions in many areas. Backcountry skiers Saturday triggered a slide remotely south of Telluride. According to the CAIC, the group was below treeline on low angle terrain, where they collapsed a small slope which propogated nearly 1,000 feet away to trigger a slide that was 400 feet wide and ran 400 vertical feet.
Several other slides were reported from the San Juans. Check out the CAIC website for more details. Up to 16 inches of snow could fall in the San Juans before the storm tapers off Monday morning, and with strong southwest winds, big and dangerous slabs will build up on leeward slopes near and above treeline.
“Triggering a storm slab or wind slab will stress the underlying weak snowpack increasing the likelihood of a larger and destructive avalanche,” the CAIC forecasters wrote in the warning.
Snow started falling in the northwest mountains Sunday afternoon, where accumulations will not be as great as in the San Juans. The storm will start to move east Monday, with drying skies and continued mild temperatures before another round of snowfall kicks in for the northern mountains Tuesday night.
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