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.

Farther north, the CAIC has posted an avalanche watch for the the Aspen zone, where expected snowfall could up the avalanche danger in the next few days. Already, at the southwestern side of the zone, up to 10 inches of snow have fallen.

A storm moving in from the northwest will bring more snow to parts of Colorado, especially as a cold front crosses the state Monday evening. Ahead of the cold front, more moisture from the southwest will fuel another round of San Juan powder.

Winter storm warnings are already in place from Steamboat through Wolf Creek pass, with watches farther south and east. Monday’s front will also drop high temps into the teens, but it won’t be a sustained cold snap. More northwesterly flow will bring readings back into the 20s by Wednesday, along with chances for more snow in the northern half of the state.



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