Map and images by Colorado Avalanche Information Center

Large snowfalls and an unstable snowpack have led to a huge number of avalanches across Colorado. The Colorado Avalanche Information Centre recorded 54 avalanches from November 28th to December 2nd.

December came in with a bang with nine reported slides in the North San Juan zone on December 1st alone.

“We have had no reports of any backcountry recreationalists caught in an avalanche since November 24th. This is very good news,” said a statement from CAIC.

Of those 54 avalanches, only 7 were human-triggered. Thankfully conditions are improving. However backcountry travelers should remain suspect of these moderate to considerable conditions that still exist across much of the state.

State of the Snowpack 12/5/2018 | Colorado Avalanche Information Centre

“Avalanche danger is slowly easing as we move away from our last big storm event. This can be a deceptive transition because conditions are still dangerous, particularly in portions of the Central and Southern Mountains from the Aspen zone south to the North San Juan zone. These areas picked up the most recent storm snow, and consequently saw the most recent avalanche activity. Fresh avalanches continued into yesterday, as this image is of a large natural avalanche in the Ruby Range shows.

Ruby Range avalanche | Photo: CAIC

This avalanche occurred coincident with an uptick in wind and drifting snow. There is still plenty of loose surface snow out there, and winds look strong enough to drift more of it today. Small amounts of drifting snow can seem innocuous, but if it goes on for a while it can really load lee slopes and terrain features. Watch for drifting snow along ridgelines and in cross-loaded features in the coming days.

Foose Creek avalanche | Photo: CAIC

This avalanche from Fooses Creek near Monarch Pass is a good example of a suspect terrain feature. As recent activity illustrates, this seemingly modest loading can make avalanches easy to trigger. We will need to see this continued loading taper off before the avalanche hazard really eases in this heightened areas. Observations are critical to our forecasts, so please tell us what you’re seeing out there. You can submit an observation here.”

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