The danger for avalanches across Colorado is high on Friday and avalanche warnings cover much of the state.
The warnings began at 6 a.m. Friday and will stay in effect through midnight Saturday, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC). It affects the following areas: Aspen, Gunnison, Grand Mesa, Northern San Juan, Southern San Juan, Steamboat and Flat Tops, Front Range, Vail and Summit County and Sawatch Range.
Heavy snow and strong winds have started creating dangerous avalanche conditions in the high country. The wind will die down throughout the day. Light snow will continue Friday into Saturday.
On Friday, CAIC said it expects to see very large avalanches running naturally and over long distances.
A second storm beginning Saturday and lasting through Sunday will bring more strong winds and additional accumulation of 6 to 12 inches.
CAIC Deputy Director Brian Lazar said a snowy trend will continue through the end of 2021 into the new year. This continued incremental loading is great for snowpack and water resources, but will lead to a spike in avalanche danger. The move back toward stability again will be slow, he said.
Monarch Pass is currently closed as of 9 a.m. due to an avalanche on the Chaffee County side (north/east), according to Gunnison Regional 911 Center.
Always check avalanche conditions before heading out into the backcountry in the snowy seasons. CAIC's map is below.