Avalanche danger rises to ‘high’ across Colorado
summit daily news
A skier-triggered avalanche on the south side of Loveland Pass indicates precarious conditions in the backcountry following the storm that dropped up to 10 inches of snow in and near Summit County.
As of Sunday morning, forecasters with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center didn’t recommend backcountry travel in the Vail and Summit zone.
Saturday’s slide was on a face known as “The Professor,” visible from Arapahoe Basin Ski Area. Witnesses said the skier who triggered the avalanche was the third down the slope. He outran the sliding snow and emerged without injury.
An avalanche watch was in effect by 9 a.m. Saturday for mountains from the southwest through the northern part of Colorado, anticipating a “potentially powerful winter storm” moving across the state Saturday night.
“The combination of strong winds and heavy, wet snow will quickly overwhelm our fragile snowpack, which would bring on a cycle of natural avalanches,” avalanche forecaster Scott Toepfer wrote in his Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) report.
As of Sunday morning, the CAIC’s website map blinked red in almost every zone statewide, indicating high avalanche danger. Brian Lazar’s Sunday avalanche watch, which quickly turned to a higher-profile warning, suggested the possibility of triggering slides from as much as 100 feet away or more.
“You will be able to easily trigger avalanches on most aspects and elevations,” Lazar wrote, adding, “The largest avalanches will occur on slopes facing north through east to southeast near and above treeline. Widespread, but smaller, avalanches are likely on all other slopes.”
Slides are likely near or below any slopes more than 30 degrees, he noted.
Avalanche danger was elevated statewide on most aspects throughout the week, following the storm that passed through on the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.
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