Colorado avalanche forecasters are urging skiers and snowboarders to avoid the backcountry while so many parts of the state are experiencing avalanche warnings on this long holiday weekend. Denver 7 reports in less than a week, two people died as a result of avalanches in Colorado.
Colorado Avalanche Information Center deputy director Brian Lazar said this year the CAIC has recorded more than 1,500 avalanches and that is only a fraction of the avalanches many are never witnessed and reported.
“It’s very common for us to record thousands of avalanches every season. So this 1,500 might be a little bit ahead of the curve, but it’s certainly nothing you know, wildly out of the ordinary. One of the characteristics of this season is that we started building our snowpack actually pretty early. And so, we saw enough snow on the ground to spur an avalanche cycle in the first week of December, and that does not happen every year.”
Caitlyn Mensch, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Boulder, said the high country will get another round of snowfall starting on Sunday night, and carry into Monday. She does not believe it will be as impactful as the storm from last week.
“A lot of the people in those mountain locations, and the ski resorts, are going to be pretty happy to get another round of snowfall. Whenever we’ve got very dangerous avalanche conditions that coincide with holiday periods, we get really worried about potential accident. When snow comes fast and furious like it did over the holiday period, it’s common that it will initiate an avalanche cycle.”
Several Colorado mountains are under an avalanche warning, many of which are level four, which means they could be deadly.
“These are areas which extend from the Steamboat Springs area, to the Aspen and Crested Butte ski areas, all the way down south into the San Juan Mountains. So, it’s covering a large swath of Colorado”.
CAIC recommends individuals DO NOT TRAVEL into the backcountry with these kind of avalanche warnings in place.
“What happens inside the ski area is very, very different than just on the other side of that boundary line. Inside ski areas, we’ve got dedicated ski patrol and snow safety teams, which work very hard to reduce the risk from avalanches through mitigation efforts, and no one is doing that kind of work in the backcountry. Mother Nature, you know, she doesn’t really care that it’s our holiday weekend. She doesn’t really care that tomorrow [Monday] is a day off. It’s dangerous avalanche conditions that are going to last through the holiday period. So, please stay safe.” –Brian Lazar
For complete and current Colorado avalanche danger information please visit CAIC’s website HERE