DENVER, COLORADO – The Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) has issued a critical Avalanche Warning and Special Advisory due to an expected large amount of snowfall this weekend. The warning, which is in effect from Thursday, January 11, 2024, at 7:00 AM, to Monday, January 15, 2024, at 5:00 PM, highlights the heightened risk of avalanches in the Ruby, Anthracite, and Ragged Mountains.
UPDATE (1/11/2024: 9:01 PM MT): CAIC has issued an additional Avalanche Warning for the for Park Range. Very dangerous avalanche conditions exist. You can easily trigger avalanches large enough to bury you, and you can expect many of these avalanches to release naturally. Very dangerous avalanche conditions will continue through the end of the day Monday. Travel in avalanche terrain is not recommended. Visit the CO Avalanche Info Center website to learn more.
Residents and visitors in these areas are urged to exercise extreme caution as the conditions are deemed very dangerous. There is a high probability of naturally occurring avalanches and the likelihood of triggering large avalanches that could result in severe consequences, including burial. The CAIC strongly advises against traveling in avalanche terrain during this period.
Additionally, a Special Avalanche Advisory extends from Wednesday, January 10, 2024, at 4:30 PM to Monday, January 15, 2024, at 4:30 PM. This advisory encompasses mountainous regions across Colorado, where the avalanche danger is anticipated to increase significantly due to new snow and winds over the holiday weekend. The most perilous conditions are expected to develop starting Saturday afternoon and continuing into Sunday. This period is forecasted to be more hazardous than any experienced in recent weeks.
The CAIC advises avoiding slopes steeper than approximately 30 degrees in near and above treeline areas, especially those facing north through east to south. The advisory emphasizes that avalanches are likely to grow in size and become easier to trigger with the accumulation of new or wind-drifted snow. Safer alternatives for winter activities are suggested in below treeline, wind-sheltered areas.
Avalanche Awareness and Safety Best Practices
In light of the current avalanche warnings, it is crucial for individuals in affected areas to adhere to avalanche safety protocols:
Stay Informed: Regularly check the CAIC website for updated forecasts and advisories.
Avoid Risky Slopes: Steer clear of slopes steeper than 30 degrees in the specified areas.
Use Avalanche Safety Equipment: Carry and know how to use essential avalanche safety gear, including a beacon, probe, and shovel.
Never Travel Alone: Always have a buddy and maintain visual or verbal contact.
Take an Avalanche Safety Course: Educate yourself on recognizing avalanche terrain and rescue techniques.
Heed Warning Signs: Cracking or collapsing snowpack, recent avalanches in the area, and heavy snowfall are critical warning signs.
Plan Alternative Routes: Be prepared with safer route options and avoid areas identified as high-risk.
By following these safety guidelines, individuals can significantly reduce their risk of encountering a dangerous avalanche situation. Stay safe and enjoy Colorado’s winter beauty responsibly.