Avalanche conditions are already dangerous across much of Colorado's mountains and will only become more treacherous Monday night and Tuesday
After a weekend that ended in two backcountry avalanche-related deaths — one in Clear Creek County and one near Rollins Pass — the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) said conditions will become more perilous in the Aspen, Gunnison, Grand Mesa, and North San Juan zones as an incoming storm moves in late Monday and Tuesday.
Avalanche danger in these areas will increase to high, or level 4 of 5, as snow begins to accumulate Monday.
CAIC said large, wide and long avalanches — both natural and human-triggered — are likely in those zones. CAIC said it recommends anybody who visits the backcountry to avoid traveling on or below avalanche terrain Monday evening and Tuesday.
On Feb. 10, CAIC began warning the public that the size and spread of avalanches in Colorado in the past couple weeks indicate that future avalanches this season may be larger and wider — and therefore, more dangerous — than usual.
"Well-connected weak layers overlain by ever increasingly thick and well-connected slabs means that avalanches will run farther, be more destructive and continue to break wide and cross terrain features into adjoining start zones," the CAIC said Feb. 10.
Click here to check the avalanche forecast before leaving home.
As of Monday morning, 10 people have died in Colorado avalanches during the 2020-2021 season:
- Dec. 18, 2020: 1 backcountry skier killed (near Crested Butte)
- Dec. 19, 2020: 2 backcountry skiers killed (near Ophir)
- Dec. 26, 2020: 1 backcountry skier killed (near Berthoud Pass)
- Feb. 1, 2021: 3 backcountry skiers killed (near Ophir)
- Feb. 4, 2021: 1 sidecountry skier killed (southeast of Vail)
- Feb. 14, 2021: 1 snowboarder killed (near Loveland Pass)
- Feb. 14, 2021: 1 snowmobiler killed (near Rollins Pass)
Jan. 30 through Feb. 6 was the deadliest week in the United States for avalanches in more than a century. In that time period, 15 people died in avalanches in the U.S. — the most in that time frame since 1910, when 96 people died in a massive avalanche in Washington. Of the 15 who died, four were from Colorado.