According to data provided by the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, Colorado is once again the country’s most dangerous state for deadly slides. Since the 1950s, avalanches have killed 287 people in Colorado, easily eclipsing deaths in other avalanche danger zones like Alaska (158 deaths), Washington State (130 deaths) and Utah (120 deaths).
During the 2018-19 season alone, Colorado recorded 4,273 slides, 135 people caught in avalanches, and eight avalanche causalities. CAIC Deputy Director Brian Lazar had this to say:
“Here, we have a lot of people in close proximity to very accessible avalanche terrain. Given just the extent of that cycle and the size and the number of really big, historic avalanches that we saw that — no one alive in Colorado has seen a cycle quite like that. “
Lazar also commented on the increased backcountry access and Colorado’s unique snow climate:
“We have thin snow pack with dry periods — which gives us all the sunshine we love — that forms weak layers in the snow. We tend to have a more dangerous snow pack in and of itself and it’s in close proximity to lots of people.”
If you plan on entering the backcountry in Colorado here’s the CAIC Deputy Director’s advice:
“Make sure they carry the minimum rescue gear, which is an avalanche transceiver, shovel and a probe. If this is all kind of new to you, then get some avalanche education so you know how to both use and interpret the forecast as best as you can.”