DENVER, COLORADO – The Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) has issued multiple avalanche warnings for several mountain ranges across Colorado, effective from Saturday, February 3, 2024, 7:30 AM, through Sunday, February 4, 2024, 4:30 PM. The warnings come as a potent winter storm continues to deliver heavy snowfall across the state, significantly increasing the risk of avalanches.
Regions Under Warning
The warnings cover a broad swath of the Colorado high country, including the Park Range, Flat Tops, Gore Range, Elkhead Mountains, Berthoud Pass, James Peak and Indian Peaks Wildernesses, Pikes Peak, and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Residents and visitors in these areas can expect “very dangerous avalanche conditions,” with avalanches large enough to bury a person likely to be easily triggered and many expected to release spontaneously. Some avalanches may also break on deeply buried weak layers, adding to the danger.
Given these conditions, the CAIC strongly advises against travel in backcountry avalanche terrain throughout the duration of the warnings. Additionally, the planned closure of Berthoud Pass to overnight traffic for mitigation and control underscores the seriousness of the current avalanche risk.
Safety Tips and Reminders
In response to the elevated avalanche risk, the CAIC and local authorities offer the following safety tips and reminders for those in or near the affected areas:
Avoid Backcountry Travel: Stay out of backcountry avalanche terrain while the warnings are in effect. The risk of triggering or being caught in an avalanche is too high.
Stay Informed: Keep up to date with the latest avalanche forecasts and warnings by checking the CAIC website or mobile app regularly.
Avalanche Safety Gear: If you must be in areas susceptible to avalanches, carry essential avalanche safety equipment, including a beacon, probe, and shovel. Ensure you know how to use them.
Recognize Warning Signs: Be aware of the warning signs of avalanches, such as recent avalanches, cracks in the snow, and “whumping” sounds.
Travel Prepared: Ensure you have a plan, let someone know your itinerary, and are prepared for changes in weather and conditions.
Emergency Training: Familiarize yourself with basic avalanche rescue techniques. Consider taking an avalanche safety course if you plan on spending time in avalanche-prone areas.
Respect Closures: Heed all road and area closures. They are in place for your safety and the safety of rescue and road crews.
The current avalanche warnings highlight the critical need for caution during this winter storm. By adhering to these guidelines and avoiding unnecessary risks, individuals can help ensure their safety and that of others in Colorado’s mountain communities.