CAIC forecasters highlight ‘very real and rapidly increasing avalanche danger’
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — A developing winter storm has prompted the season’s first avalanche warning in the Colorado high county. With up to 12 inches of snow expected across the higher terrain, forecasters with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center say extra caution is required for backcountry travel this weekend.
“Don’t let the fresh snow blind you to the very real and rapidly increasing avalanche danger,” the CAIC posted on its website. The heaviest snow is expected Saturday afternoon and Saturday night and the thin and brittle early season snowpack likely won’t be able to support the fresh snow, especially in wind-loaded areas. Continue reading “Incoming storm prompts avalanche, travel warnings”→
Resorts reporting powder conditions, but road conditions could hamper access, while the backcountry avalanche danger soars
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — March is living up to its reputation as the snowiest month in the Colorado high country, with chilly spring storm snarling roads, intensifying avalanche danger and adding much-needed moisture to the state’s snowpack.
Ski areas around the state are generally reporting up to 12 inches of new snow in the past few days, and moderate to heavy snow continued falling Saturday morning. Some of the heaviest totals are expected east of the Continental Divide, where the California Department of Transportation reported bumper-to-bumper traffic around I-70 and C-470.
East of Denver, I-70 was closed to the Kansas border, and slick conditions on the westbound approach to the mountains prompted CDOT to require chains, snow tires or four-wheel drive for all vehicles in Mt. Vernon Canyon, just west of Denver.
:Chains, snow tires or 4WD required for all vehicles I-70 Mt. Vernon Canyon mile marker 259 – 250.
Natural avalanche cycle expected, with large and dangerous slides possible
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Snowfall rates of up to 1 inch per hour, strong winds and a weak base layer have upped the avalanche danger in the San Juans to the critical zone. Forecasters with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center Friday issued an avalanche warning for the northern and Southern San Juans, where large and dangerous slides are likely and travel in avalanche terrain is not recommended.
The avalanche danger is rated as high on west, northwest, north, northeast and east aspects at all elevations. The danger is considerable on southeast, south and southwest aspects at all elevations in the San Juans. The avalanche warning is in effect through Saturday morning, but the threat of slides will persist through the weekend.
SUMMIT COUNTY — With anywhere from 5 to 9 inches of new snow piling atop a tender snowpack riddled with slabs, crusts and faceted crystals, the Colorado Avalanche Information Center has issued an avalanche warning for the North San Juans.
Natural avalanches are likely Sunday night into Monday morning, and backcountry travelers will face hazardous conditions in many areas. Backcountry skiers Saturday triggered a slide remotely south of Telluride. According to the CAIC, the group was below treeline on low angle terrain, where they collapsed a small slope which propogated nearly 1,000 feet away to trigger a slide that was 400 feet wide and ran 400 vertical feet.
Several other slides were reported from the San Juans. Check out the CAIC website for more details. Up to 16 inches of snow could fall in the San Juans before the storm tapers off Monday morning, and with strong southwest winds, big and dangerous slabs will build up on leeward slopes near and above treeline.
“Triggering a storm slab or wind slab will stress the underlying weak snowpack increasing the likelihood of a larger and destructive avalanche,” the CAIC forecasters wrote in the warning.
Snow started falling in the northwest mountains Sunday afternoon, where accumulations will not be as great as in the San Juans. The storm will start to move east Monday, with drying skies and continued mild temperatures before another round of snowfall kicks in for the northern mountains Tuesday night.