Backcountry travel not recommended in north San Juans, winds could hamper traffic along the Continental Divide Tuesday and Wednesday
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Colorado snow totals were all over the map with the most recent storm, ranging from 1 to 2 inches along the Continental Divide to a 27-inch blast at Steamboat, 19 inches at Powderhorn and 14 inches at Wolf Creek. The full report from Colorado Ski Country USA is online here.
Winds shifting to a northwesterly direction could bring periods of snow to the northern and central mountains, with 4 to 8 inches possible by late in the week, along with a high wind watch starting Tuesday morning covering the mountains and foothills east and west of the Continental Divide in the northern part of the state.
As forecast by the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, the storm delivered to those areas favored by a southwest flow, with good flows into the Aspen zone. As a result of the heavy snows to the north and south, the CAIC has issued an avalanche warning for the north San Juan zone, where travel in slide-prone backcountry terrain is not recommended. The warming is in effect through Tuesday (Feb. 21), 10 a.m.
In the warning area, a natural avalanche cycle is likely and triggered slides are almost certain. Releasing slab avalanches could step down into older layers of snow resulting in large and dangerous slides.
The avalanche danger is also rated as high in the Steamboat and Flattops zone, as well as in the south San Juans. In the rest of the state’s backcountry mountains, the danger is at the considerable level, meaning that triggered slides are likely.
Several avalanche deaths and serious accidents in the past week underscore the fact that the snowpack is very unstable and prone to slides.
The high wind watch is due to a strong jet stream approaching the state and a developing surface pressure gradient. It sounds like the strongest winds will be just east of the Divide, but the National Weather Service included Summit County in the watch, citing the potential for 75 mph gusts Tuesday, increasing to 85 mph Wednesday. The winds are expected to develop Tuesday morning just after sunrise.
Filed under: avalanches, climate and weather, Colorado, La Niña, snow, Snow and weather, Summit County snow and weather Tagged: | avlanche warning, Colorado, Colorado snow, Colorado weather, high wind watch, San Juans avalanche danger