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CAIC Special Avalanche Advisory

Special Avalanche Advisory Issued for Colorado Mountains Amidst Rising Temperatures

DENVER, COLORADO – The Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) has issued a Special Avalanche Advisory for Colorado’s high country, effective through Sunday, June 9. The advisory follows a series of large, destructive wet avalanches observed on Wednesday and forecasts near-record temperatures on Thursday, June 6, and Friday, June 7, which are expected to exacerbate avalanche risks.

Current Conditions

Unusual weather patterns have created atypical avalanche conditions for early June. The CAIC warns that June 6 and 7 could see some of the warmest temperatures of 2024 so far, with overnight lows remaining near or above freezing. This combination has resulted in an unusually large amount of snow in the high alpine regions of the Central and Northern Mountains, leading to increased avalanche activity.

Several large Wet Loose avalanches have already occurred, gouging the ground and creating hazardous conditions. A shallow Wet Slab avalanche was reported on an easterly slope near Mount Arkansas, and similar incidents have been noted in the Indian Peaks. These conditions are expected to persist, with more wet slab avalanches likely in the coming days.

Travel Recommendations

The CAIC advises adjusting travel plans to avoid steep slopes, particularly if the snow surface crusts become unsupportable, causing travelers to sink into wet, unconsolidated snow or hear collapsing sounds. Travelers are urged to opt for gentler terrain and avoid very steep slopes or areas with shallow, rocky snowpacks.

Early morning travel offers a safer window, especially if overnight skies are clear, allowing the snowpack to cool. Conversely, overnight cloud cover can prevent the snowpack from refreezing, worsening avalanche conditions. Slopes less than 40 degrees in steepness are generally safer, and open slopes are preferable to rocky, constricted gullies.

Additional Hazards

Large, overhanging cornices pose an additional threat. If these cornices collapse, they can trigger larger avalanches by gauging deeply into the snowpack. This risk is heightened for those walking on ridgelines, as cornices can break further back than expected, particularly during periods of above-normal temperatures.

Safety First

As conditions remain volatile, the CAIC emphasizes the importance of prioritizing safety and adjusting plans accordingly. Travelers are encouraged to stay informed by checking updates on the CAIC website and preparing for rapidly changing conditions.

For more information and updates, visit CAIC.

Alex Derr, Founder of The Next Summit

Alex Derr is an Eagle Scout, climber, and environmental policy expert located in Denver, Colorado. He created The Next Summit to help others stay safe exploring the mountains and advocate to preserve the peaks for the future. Follow him on Linkedin or Twitter or click here to contact him.

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