The Colorado Avalanche Information Center Has Upped its forecast to an Avalanche Advisory for the entirety of the state. Here's what you need to know before traveling.
DENVER, CO — March 1st, 2022
This story has been updated:
The Advisory has been lifted. The story below contains previous information on avalanche safety. Please consult the CAIC forecast before venturing out into the backcountry.
The Colorado Avalanche Information Center, or CAIC, has issued a statewide Avalanche Advisory.
This general caution against traveling on, or below avalanche terrain (mountains with a roughly 30° slope) until Sunday, February 27th.
Even if you’ve never set a toe in the backcountry, there’s a very good reason this forecast should be on your radar.
How this Impacts You
First: if you’re thinking of sneaking in a bit of backcountry skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, etc.: don't. At least not until the warning expires — which will be by day’s end, Thursday, February 24th.
“When there’s warning conditions, or there’s high or extreme avalanche danger, our general advice is we do not recommend travel in or underneath avalanche terrain,” said Brian Lazar, Deputy Director of the CAIC.
Avalanches can also pose threats to travelers on the road, particularly on certain mountain passes and at the bottom of canyons beneath avalanche runouts.
“We work really closely with the Colorado Department of Transportation to mitigate the risk on the roadways,” Lazar explained.
This may mean occasional road closures for avalanche mitigation. A lot of travelers are likely to be heading to the mountains to enjoy the fresh powder. That means along with poor driving conditions, there could be a fair bit of traffic.
CDOT has put out a travel alert as well:
Travel Alert | Heavy snow and Winter weather
“Arctic air moves across Colorado bringing sub-freezing temperatures. Central and southern mountains could see heavy snow and accumulations up to 20" or more. Heaviest snows expected over Wolf Creek and Cumbres and LaManga passes. Southwest and south-central mountains may also see high winds causing difficult driving conditions. Significant snow is possible over Vail Pass, McClure pass and the Grand Mesa as well. Central I-70 will see varying snow up to 8 inches. Sub-freezing temperatures will last through Wednesday, so icy conditions will be possible on roads statewide. All vehicles should have adequate tread depth on their tires. Commercial transport using mountain roadways will likely need chains or approved alternate traction devices.”
Resources to Monitor Weather Conditions
Meteorologist Chris Tomer is probably one of the best in the entire game of mountain weather forecasting. He has a YouTube Channel here, where he tracks storms in concise, informative videos.
I don’t venture out without getting his forecast first.
Chris Tomer also gave me the incredible avalanche photo at the top of this piece, from his friend Brett Schreckengost with Telluride Helitrax.
You can also subscribe to Cole’s Climb to get exclusive news and reporting on conditions that impact your outdoor hobbies.
So important to alert people of this information! I did an article for "Dog Fancy" magazine on the Avalanche Rescue Dogs of Sundance Resort. I learned so much! The patrol and their trained dogs work incredibly hard to protect people from exposure to possible avalanches. Obviously, that can't prevent an avalanche, but they can try to protect skiers and others from getting caught in one. The areas that are avalanche prone for each day are clearly marked thanks to the patrol, and inevitably, humans go outside those marked boundaries for what they think will be a more thrilling experience.
Thanks, Cole! Good info.