DENVER – The Colorado Avalanche Information Center is warning people of very dangerous avalanche conditions in the high country beginning late Saturday afternoon as a storm system passes through the state.
Heavy snow, strong winds and rain “will result in dangerous avalanche conditions becoming very dangerous into Sunday,” according to the center’s website.
Officials warn that a natural avalanche cycle will likely occur after sunset Saturday, peaking during the overnight hours as heavy snow falls in the mountains. Travel in avalanche terrain is not recommended from late Saturday into Sunday.
According to the CAIC website, dangerous avalanche conditions are in effect Saturday for areas below, near and above treeline. Conditions worsen Sunday, when very dangerous avalanche conditions go into effect for the aforementioned areas.
“You can trigger a large and destructive avalanche on any slope steeper than around 30 degrees with more than eight inches of new snow,” the website warns.
On Sunday, an avalanche warning went into effect for the Aspen and Gunnison areas, which is set to expire at 6 a.m. Monday.
An avalanche watch is in effect for Grand Mesa, and a Special Avalanche Advisory remains for the Steamboat and Flat Tops, Front Range, Vail and Summit County as well as the Sawatch Range areas, CAIC officials noted.
What to look out for when avalanche danger is present
The CAIC website has a handful of tips to keep yourself safe when avalanche danger is present
1. Keep an eye out for wet, slushy snow surfaces incapable of supporting your weight.
2. Rollerballs, pinwheels, or dribbling snow off steep slopes are the first indications of increasing danger, so always be aware of your surroundings.
3. If you observe these signals or experience rainfall heavier thank sprinkles, you’ll want to exit avalanche terrain immediately.