Biggest snow slides of the season expected in southwestern mountains
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — A strong storm winding up across Colorado has already dropped up to 2 feet of snow in the Southwestern mountains, leading to an avalanche warning from the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.
The warning is in effect for both the north and south San Juan zones, where another 12 inches could fall by the end of the day. A natural avalanche cycle is expected and backcountry travel is discouraged. Some of the avalanches could be the biggest of the season so far, according to the CAIC.
An already sensitive snowpack is now being tested by large and rapid loading — one of the classic ingredients for a major avalanche cycle. Windslabs on lee slopes are up to 4 feet thick, with the potential for bigger slides even below treeline, the forecasters warned Tuesday morning.
Across the rest of the state, the avalanche danger is rated as considerable to high, and could reach the red zone in most areas by the end of the day as new snow piles up. The heaviest snowfall could switch to the central and northern mountains by afternoon as the storm passes to the east and the flow becomes more nothwesterly.
Strong winds are expected to persist, so more slab formation is likely even when the snowfall winds down.
Yet another storm is expected to affect most mountain areas Wednesday night into Thursday before the weather dries out and warms up for the weekend. Winter storm warnings and advisories are in effect through 12 p.m. across the mountains of Colorado, along with a high wind warning for the northern Front Range.
Filed under: avalanches, climate and weather, snow, Snow and weather Tagged: | backcountry avalanche danger, Colorado Avalanche Information Center, Colorado weather, San Juan Mountains, Winter storm warning