Weakest snowpack since 2012 causes fear of bigger, more destructive avalanches

State

DENVER (KDVR) — The Colorado avalanche season has been off to an active and dangerous start.

This is the weakest snowpack we have seen in Colorado since 2012. New snow was just added to some areas on Tuesday, with more in the forecast this week.

With more snow, avalanches will get bigger and more destructive. Expect more avalanche activity with each new storm.

Tuesday’s snowfall brought 2-6 inches in the high county and some areas like Steamboat Springs got 8 to 12 inches. That new snow puts the backcountry in avalanche danger.

Slab avalanches occur when weak, old layers of snow release. The caution and concern comes in because of new snow on top of that old weak snowpack.

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center has a scale from 1 to 5, with 5 being extreme danger for avalanches. The Front Range, Steamboat Springs, and Flat Tops are now at level 3, which is considerable danger.

Vail, Summit County, Aspen, Gunnison, and down through the San Juans and Sangre De Cristo are at a level 2, which is a moderate danger.

The avalanches this year so far have been small, but they are still extremely dangerous.

The best thing to do is to check the avalanche forecast before you head out into the backcountry. Look at the conditions and the weather forecast, and plan accordingly.

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