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Avalanche danger to increase Saturday as ‘significant storm’ impacts Colorado’s northern mountains

Posted at 5:24 PM, May 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-20 19:24:06-04

DENVER – Coloradans heading to the mountains this weekend should be mindful of the terrain they’ll venture in as avalanche danger will increase Saturday, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.

The threat of increased avalanche danger will impact the Northern Mountains, near and east of the Continental Divide, where a late spring storm is expected to dump one to two feet of snow down into the Foothills.

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CAIC officials said Friday those venturing out into the backcountry can expect to trigger mostly small avalanches in wind-drifted terrain above treeline.

Conditions from this spring snowstorm will “dramatically change” the snow and avalanche conditions late Friday into Saturday, from north to south across the Northern Mountain region, as the threat transitions from wet to dry avalanches as the day goes on, they said.

“As wind-drifted snow accumulates, some slopes will grow dangerous sooner than others, especially at higher elevations in the northern and eastern Ranges favored by this storm.”

The danger rises Friday night across the region and to more slopes on any given mountain and skiers and snowboarders can expect to trigger Storm Slab avalanches on many steep slopes, CAIC officials wrote in their snowpack and avalanche discussion.


The deeper snowfall and more dangerous avalanche conditions will be in the Medicine Bow and Rawah Mountains, Never Summer Range, Mummy Range, Rocky Mountain National Park and Indian Peaks. Mountain Ranges further west and south, like the Park Range, Gore Range, Vasquez Mountains, Williams Fork Mountains, 10-Mile Range, Sawatch Range and southern Front Range will see enough snow to develop Wind Slab avalanche conditions.”

While this weekend could be the last shot of dry snow and powder turns for the season, CAIC officials warned Coloradans not to let the opportunity lure them into dangerous terrain.

“Expect a rapid increase in danger once the storm gets going. Build travel plans that allow you to scale back your slope angles once you see signs of increasing danger like cracking in wind-drifted snow,” they said. “Spring storms are fickle and at time intense, so keep your terrain options open so you can enjoy a late spring crack at winter conditions, safely.”