Avalanche danger is climbing across Colorado’s high country

Heavy snowstorms have created “a sure recipe for avalanches,” state agency warns

David Gilbert
The Colorado Sun

Heavy snowstorms that started last week have ratcheted up the avalanche danger in the Colorado mountains, the Colorado Avalanche Information Center warned.

Nearly all of the Colorado high country was under “considerable” avalanche danger Monday, with only the Sangre de Cristo and Culebra mountain ranges on the eastern side of the San Luis Valley at a lower “moderate” level.

“These are unusual conditions,” said Ethan Greene, who heads the CAIC. “The last few storms were dense, wet snow, which puts a lot of water weight on the existing snowpack underneath – a sure recipe for avalanches.”

Conditions are likely to get worse in coming days with more snowstorms in the forecast, Greene said, adding the most important thing motorists and backcountry skiers can do is keep up on current information by checking for avalanche warnings or for road conditions.

The biggest warning sign of avalanche danger for backcountry skiers is seeing other avalanches nearby, Greene said. Skiers should also watch for large cracks in snowbanks, stay off steep terrain, and should carry probe poles, transceivers and shovels.

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