HomeNewsWinter Storm Warning: Colorado Facing Worst-of-Season Avalanche Conditions

Winter Storm Warning: Colorado Facing Worst-of-Season Avalanche Conditions

by Madison Miller
Photo by: RJ Sangosti/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

When it comes to skiing and snowboarding, as well as other snow sports, February and March can be some of the best times to hit the slopes.

The base depth of snow on the mountains is at one of its deepest points. Not to mention, there’s typically still plenty of snow coming in during this time. In fact, Presidents’ Day weekend is amongst the busiest days on the slopes.

Unfortunately, right now is also one of the most dangerous times to be on the mountains. According to The Denver Channel, by this Wednesday Colorado may be seeing some of the most dangerous avalanche conditions of the season so far. The weather will cause several natural avalanches in the area. In addition, it will be more likely that a human-triggered avalanche could occur.

Increase in Avalanche Danger in Colorado

The reasoning for this dangerous avalanche condition? Colorado is about to get hit by a deadly winter storm starting on Monday. The mountains will be sprinkled with more than a foot of snow in the mountains before moving out later this week. The worst conditions will hit the west of the Continental Divide.

As the storm progresses this week, avalanche danger will also increase as well. Starting on Monday at 4:15 p.m. an avalanche watch will go into effect for both the Gunnison and Aspen zones.

A cold front this evening will bring the heavy snow tonight before eventually slowing down into Tuesday. Just as things are looking better, another front will move into the area. This time the snow is going to hit the Elk Mountains and the San Juan Mountains.

All in all, there will be snow throughout the entire week. The storm won’t officially end until the weekend rolls around.

It’s going to make for a dangerous week on the mountains. There have already been reports of 41 human-triggered avalanches in the past week. These avalanches can cause people to get trapped under the snow and then sadly suffocate before help can arrive.

Preparing for Dangerous Conditions

If you’re planning on hitting the mountains this week there are several things you consider beforehand. First, you should check the avalanche forecast in the area first by visiting the CAIC website. Also, be sure to avoid wind-drifted areas of snow, which could prove to be deadly.

Lastly, always be prepared for the worst-case scenario. You should always have a helmet on because it can reduce injuries and cause an air pocket if caught in the snow. It’s also very important to wear an avalanche beacon, which can help rescuers locate you. Also, avalanche airbags can save lives by helping people not get completely buried. Other tools include an avalanche probe and a small shovel, both of which can help you free others.

One of the most recent avalanche disasters occurred on February 6 near West Yellowstone. A man was on a 45-degree slope when it released and buried him up against a tree. Nobody witnessed the avalanche so he was buried for 15-25 minutes before getting uncovered.