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Avalanche warning in the Colorado mountains

An avalanche warning, indicating the likelihood of triggered and natural slides, is in effect through Jan. 18, 12 p.m. Click on the image to visit the CAIC online for more details.N

Slides kill 3 in Canada 7 others rescued at Fernie, B.C.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — New snow and high winds have prompted the Colorado Avalanche Information Center to issue an avalanche warning covering the mountains from Vail through Summit County and the Front Range. Human-triggered slides are likely on steeper wind-loaded slopes, especially those facing northeast through southeast. The warning is in effect through Jan. 18, 12 p.m.

The red-coded high avalanche danger rating means dangerous avalanche conditions with natural and triggered slides likely to very likely and the potential for large avalanches in many areas. Travel in the backcountry is not recommended. Continue reading

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Colorado: Incoming storm will up the avalanche danger

The avalanche danger is rated as considerable on wind-loaded slopes at higher elevations Sunday, but forecasters with the CAIC expect to raise the danger later today or tomorrow as a windy storm barrels in from the northwest. Click on the image to get the latest info from the CAIC.

Several recent slides reported from East Vail, Vail Pass area

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Forecasters are keeping a close eye on an approaching weather system that could drop one to two feet of snow across parts of the north-central mountains and up the avalanche danger early next week. Gusty winds out of the northwest could add significant wind slab to slopes above treeline.

See the special advisory statement from the CAIC here.

As of Sunday morning the avalanche danger is rated as considerable near and above treeline on north through east through southeast-facing slopes, with the potential for triggering wind slab in many areas, especially on cross-loaded slopes and gullies. Of special concern are persistent weak layers in the upper part of the snowpack, including surface hoar layers that formed during recent cold spells. On other slopes the danger is rated as moderate.

You can follow the CAIC’s forecast for your part of Colorado by clicking here.

Continue reading

Avalanche warnings issued for Colorado backcountry

A visual diagnosis of the deadly Dec. 5 avalanche in Dry Gulch, near the Eisenhower Tunnel. PHOTO COURTESY CAIC, TEXT ADDED BY CAIC FORECASTER SCOTT TOEPFER.

A visual diagnosis of the deadly Dec. 5 avalanche in Dry Gulch, near the Eisenhower Tunnel. PHOTO COURTESY CAIC, TEXT ADDED BY CAIC FORECASTER SCOTT TOEPFER. Click on the image for a larger view.

Risk of triggered avalanches high across the Colorado mountains

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — New snow in the Colorado mountains is great news for skiers and ski resorts, but the storm has also increase the risk of backcountry avalanches. Several highways, including US 50 over Monarch Pass, US 6 over Loveland Pass and US 160 over Wolf Creek Pass have have been closed intermittently for avalanche control work and the Colorado Avalanche Information Center issued avalanche warnings and watches for most of the high country.

According to an avalanche warning for the South San Juans, including the Wolf Creek Pass area, both natural and triggered snow slides are likely. Backcountry travel is not recommended on or under steep snow-covered slopes. A similar warning is in effect for the Gunnison zone, including the backcountry around Crested Butte, where storm totals have reached 50 inches around Gothic, Irwin and Schofield Pass.

The snow that’s fallen in the past few days is wet and heavy and could cause the snowpack to fail near the ground, creating large and dangerous avalanches. Gusty winds from the west and southwest have built windslabs that could easily be triggered by a skier, snowboarder or snowmobile, and some of those slides could step down into the weak layers of cohesionless, faceted grains now buried deep in the snowpack.

Several avalanches reported about a week ago point to the instabilities at the base of the snowpack. Read about the recent slides here.

The CAIC has also posted a detailed report on the fatal avalanche in Dry Gulch, east of the Eisenhower Tunnel, describing how the hard slab on the steep slope broke into refrigerator-sized blocks before burying a backcountry skier under two to three feet of heavy snow. The skier was wearing an Avalung survival pack that was stripped from his shoulders by the force of the slide.

So far this winter there have been four avalanche fatalities in the U.S. A climber in Washington was killed Dec. 4, just a day before the fatal Dry Creek slide.

Fresh snow, backcountry avalanche warnings in Colorado

The Saturday morning satellite image shows one storm leaving Colorado with another impressive blob of moisture gathering over the Pacific Northwest.

Backcountry travel not recommended in  Front Range, Vail and Summit-area mountains

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Friday night’s storm delivered the good across most of Colorado, dropping anywhere from 6 to 14 inches at ski resorts from Steamboat to Monarch. In a pattern that’s typical of a La Niña year, the moisture moved in from the northwest under a strong jet stream, dropping the most snow along the Continental Divide east of Steamboat Springs, with amounts tapering off to the south, where San Juan ski areas only reported a couple of inches.

A backcountry avalanche warning from the Colorado Avalanche Information Center is in effect for the Steamboat and Front Range zones, where travel in avalanche terrain is not recommended. Under a “high” danger rating, both triggered and natural avalanches are likely in the backcountry. Continue reading

Colorado Backcountry travelers should expect avalanches

‘Considerable’ danger rating means triggered slides are likely

Up to 18 inches of new snow have upped the avalanche hazard in the Colorado backcountry.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Forecasters with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center have raised the danger rating a notch in the Summit and Vail zone to considerable on terrain above treeline, warning backcountry travelers to expect avalanche activity after the recent storm dropped more than a foot of snow in many mountain locations.

The “considerable” rating means that backcountry travelers will encounter dangerous avalanche conditions, with natural slides possible and triggered releases likely on avalanche-prone slopes. The rating is for slopes facing in all directions, as rapid loading from the storm, rather than wind-transported slabs, present the greatest hazard. But the forecasters singled out slopes facing north to east to south and southwest for the greatest risks based on the prevailing winds during the storm. Continue reading

Weather: Upslope, with some overflow love for Summit?

Some upslope action on Super Bowl Sunday, Front Range favored

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Another dusting of snow overnight but no big accumulations around the Summit-Vail area for now. The next in a series of El Niño-fueled storms in tracking to the south of the area and will set up east of the mountains in what could be a major upslope storm, with widespread snow along the foothills and the Denver metro area. Some of the ski areas east of the Continental Divide like Winter Park and Eldora could see the most snow.

There should be enough moisture wrapping around the low to fuel at least a few showers in our area, and the Boulder National Weather Service is actually calling for widespread snow across the mountain region.

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center forecasters won’t preclude the possibility of snow in the Vail-Summit zone, but point out that, in general, east winds tend to skunk areas west of the Continental Divide.

The backcountry avalanche danger is still rated as considerable. Smaller amounts of snowfall the last few days have added up to between 5 and 8 inches across parts of the zone — plenty of snow for new slab formation and a good chance of triggered slides near treeline.

Check in with the CAIC before heading into the backcountry for the latest forecast or call the local hotline at (970) 668-0600.

Check back later today with Summit Voice for a photoblog from the Beacon Bowl at Arapahoe Basin.

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