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Colorado: Big slides likely in the backcountry

Forecasters issue avalanche advisory for Summit-Vail and Front Range mountain zones

An avalanche near Vail Pass, Colorado.

Big, dangerous slides like this slab avalanche in Uneva Bowl, near Vail Pass, are likely in the Colorado backcountry the next few days. bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Dangerous avalanche conditions will persist across most of Colorado’s mountains for the next few days, as new snow and winds combine to bring the snowpack to its breaking point. With more snow in the forecast, the Colorado Avalanche Information Center issued an advisory for the Vail-Summit and Front Range zones, valid through 8 a.m. Monday (Jan. 12). Continue reading

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Avalanche warning issued for Colorado’s South San Juans

Backcountry travelers need to stay tuned to avalanche warnings the next few days. Photo by Dylan Berwyn.

Backcountry travelers need to stay tuned to avalanche warnings the next few days. Photo by Dylan Berwyn.

Chilly storm to bring more snow early in the week

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Forecasters are expecting a natural avalanche cycle in the south San Juans, where heavy snow and strong winds Saturday night loaded avalanche starting zones. The Colorado Avalanche Information Center has issued an avalanche warning for the south San Juans.

“Large and dangerous avalanches are likely,” the CAIC forecasters said, urging backcountry travelers to avoid avalanche terrain.

About 10 to 15 inches of dense snow piled up, with southwest winds building slabs at higher elevations. At all elevations and all aspects, the new snow sits atop layers of old persistent slabs and non-cohesive faceted kernels of snow at the base. Slides in the storm slab layer can step down into older snow, resulting in big avalanches potentially running long distances. Continue reading

Colorado: Avalanche warnings & watches in the backcountry

Colorado avalanche danger

The avalanche danger ranges from moderate in the south San Juans to high in the Steamboat zone. Click for more info.

New snow, high winds combined to increase the risk of snowslides

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Copious amounts of new snow and high winds in Colorado’s north-central mountains have combined to push the avalanche danger into the red zone once again. An avalanche warning in effect for the Steamboat zone and and avalanche watch for the Summit Vail zone, along with a continued high-wind warning through Thursday morning.

The Steamboat area has seen between 3 and 4 feet of snow in the past week, and high winds have built extensive windslabs on north to east to south aspects, where both triggered and natural slides are likely the next few days. Some of the avalanches will be large and destructive. Under the warning, travel is not recommended in avalanche terrain. Continue reading

Colorado: Backcountry avalanche watch issued

Snow Thursday night could set off another natural avalanche cycle

Parts of the Colorado mountains are under an avalanche watch. Click for more info.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — A round of forecast snow — perhaps 4 to 10 inches Thursday night — could unleash another cycle of dangerous, naturally running backcountry avalanches, Colorado snow safety experts said, issuing an avalanche watch that covers the Front Range and mountains to the west from Fairplay up to Steamboat Springs.

Four people have died in avalanches this season, including two at ski areas. Get the latest backcountry update at the Colorado Avalanche Information Center website.

An avalanche watch means that, if the weather forecast is accurate, the avalanche danger will rise to high in the watch area, with both natural and triggered slides likely. The watch is in effect through 11 a.m. Friday. A high danger rating means very dangerous backcountry avalanche conditions, and travel in avalanche terrain is not recommended. Specifically, the warning covers the Park Elkhead, Flattop, Front, Gore and Tenmile ranges. Continue reading

Colorado weatherblog: Big snows, avalanche warnings

Wilderness Sports sponsors the Summit Voice weatherblog. Click to visit Wilderness Sports online.

Powder action in the Alleys at Arapahoe Basin, Colorado.

Powder action in the Alleys at Arapahoe Basin, Colorado.

Fresh powder at all Colorado ski areas; large and dangerous avalanches expected in the central and southern mountains

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — In the last edition of the weatherblog, we asked, “Whither the jet stream?” Well, we got our answer Thursday night and Friday morning as a fire hose of steady snow set up across much of Colorado, delivering impressive snow totals around the state, with the biggest totals in the central mountains. Monarch reported a 26-inch storm total, while Crested Butte reported 22 inches. Click here for the full snow report.

That bullseye area is now under an avalanche warning valid through 12 p.m. Sunday (Feb. 27), where forecasters with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center are expecting a cycle of large natural avalanches on northwest to east-facing slopes.

“Backcountry travel is not recommended at this time as some of these avalanches could run long distances and out to areas were travelers would normally think it is safe,” The CAIC said in it morning bulletin. Read the warning here. Continue reading

Weatherblog: Valentine’s Day freshies

A flash exposure helps fresh snow on a lodgepole branch stand out against the crepuscular light of dawn.

Good snow totals, cool temps and backcountry soft slabs on lee slopes — look out for avalanches

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Widespread snow across the Summit and and Vail area reported Sunday morning, with 6 inches at A-Basin, 11 at Breckenridge, 7 inches at Copper and 2 inches at Keystone.

Get the Colorado Ski Country snow report here.

The snow report for Vail’s ski mountains is here.

The National Weather Service is maintaining a winter weather advisory for the northern mountains through 11 a.m. Sunday, as blowing snow will lead to dangerous driving conditions on some mountain roads and passes. Snowfall will taper off Sunday afternoon, but temperatures will remain cool under a northwest flow.

Highs for Sunday will stay in the teens and low 20s, warming just a bit on Monday. Another shot of moisture with a chance of light snow is forecast for Monday night. Northwest flow remains over the area for the next few days with on and off chances for snow showers. Continue reading

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