Winter Clings to Last Week of February
CDOT Update at 9:42 a.m. for I-70 travel restrictions can be found HERE.
**Travel Alert UPDATE * 9 a.m. Monday
The National Weather Service has issued a snow squall warning for Lake County. Heavy snow couple with high winds is creating extremely dangerous travel conditions. Visibility may drop to zero. Exercise extreme caution if you must travel.
SEE BELOW FOR DETAILS:
The National Weather Service in Pueblo has issued a * Snow Squall Warning * until 845 AM MST for Lake County in central Colorado – At 815 AM MST, a dangerous snow squall was located over Leadville North, or 56 miles east of Glenwood Springs, moving southeast at 30 mph.
- HAZARD…Whiteout conditions. Zero visibility in heavy snow and
blowing snow. Wind gusts greater than 30 mph.
- SOURCE…Radar indicated.
- IMPACT…Dangerous life-threatening travel. Highway 285 will be
impacted. Locations impacted include…
- Buena Vista, Leadville, Fremont Pass, Mt Massive, Twin Lakes, Mt
Elbert, Alpine, Independence Pass, Granite, Climax, Nathrop, St Elmo,
Turquoise Lake, Cottonwood Pass and Leadville North.
- Buena Vista, Leadville, Fremont Pass, Mt Massive, Twin Lakes, Mt
- PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS. Reduce your speed and turn on headlights! During snow squalls, the visibility may suddenly drop to near zero in whiteout conditions.
With snow amounts measured anywhere from 8 inches to well over a foot reported throughout Leadville and Lake County, it will still be a pretty typical Monday for those living in Leadville Today. Classes are in session for the Lake County School District and Colorado Mountain College. Yesterday (Sunday) county road crews were sent out to stay ahead of the blowing and drifting in those stubborn spots.
Shoveling and snow plowing will top the list of chores for the last week in February as more snow is in the forecast for the remainder of the week. Of course, for many the fresh snows means getting outside with winter sports and activities, so LT checked in with the backcountry experts at the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) which stated that yesterday, Sunday, Feb. 23 it was snowing 2 inches an hour in Leadville. And by nightfall, it looked that way with road conditions deteriorating throughout the day and residents spending most of the day – and most likely the rest of this week – digging out. Be sure to read all the way through and you’ll get some great info about an upcoming Avalanche info session as well as how you can support this valuable organization’s work, many of whom live right here in #Leadville!
Backcountry Avalanche Forecast
Issued by: Mike Cooperstein, CAIC on Sun, Feb 23 at 9:57 a.m.
Forecast Update: A band of heavier than expected snowfall from Leadville to Breckenridge north to Interstate 70 is increasing the avalanche danger in these specific areas. It will be easier to trigger large dangerous avalanches in any areas where you find over about 10 inches of new snow. These avalanches can break deeply, wider than you might expect, and can catch you buy surprise. Avoid travel on and under all slopes steeper than about 30 degrees on all aspects and all elevations in any area where you find over 10 inches of new snow.
You can trigger dangerous avalanches that break near the ground on any slopes where the snowpack is less than about four feet deep. The most likely trigger points are thin areas near rocks, thin areas where strong winds have removed the surface snow, areas near the sides of slopes where the snowpack is thinner, or on slopes that slid earlier in the season. It is very difficult to know exactly where the thin spots are. This means that multiple riders can travel on a slope before someone finds the thin, weak, spot and brings the whole slope down. These avalanches will be larger and more dangerous on easterly-facing slopes where the prevailing winds have loaded the starting zones. These avalanches can break wider and bigger than you might expect and can propagate uphill into the deeper wind-drifted areas near the ridgelines.
Choose your terrain carefully. There will not be any signs of weak snow structure such as cracking and collapsing before these big avalanches release. Avoid suspect slopes or stick to lower angle terrain to stay safe today.
Video of Avalanche Triggered Near Leadville
Avalanche Forecast Discussion
Issued by: Matt Huber, CAIC on Sun, Feb 23, at 7:53 a.m.
Storm totals across the region are beginning to take on a widespread, anywhere between 2-10 inches with the heavier amounts near Irwin and Marble. It is currently snowing 2 inches an hour in Leadville, so basically, you can expect to find highly varying conditions throughout the Central Mountains. In the Gunnison zone, with heavier snow accumulations already on the ground and more expected through the day, you are likely to see triggered Storm Slab avalanches on steep slopes. Elsewhere across the region snowfall amounts don’t look to hit the thresholds for widespread Storm Slab avalanches. You should use caution though on any steep slope where new snow begins to stack up close to 8-10 inches or where you see shooting cracks in the new snow.
A large amount of uncertainty still lies in the larger Persistent Slab avalanche problem. In portions of the region, especially where the snowpack is generally thinner, we have seen very large and destructive avalanches with only minimal amounts of new load. The sensitivity has decreased on these layers over the past few days, but the underlying concern though is that today’s storm will be just enough to keep us teetering or even send the more sensitive areas over the edge. In the Gunnison Zone, again with heavier storm totals and more recent Persistent Slab avalanche activity, we expect to see an increase in larger avalanches breaking on deeply buried weak layers today.
With uncertainty in how much stress the deeply buried weak layers can handle and a storm that is currently producing heavy snowfall in many portions of the region, the safest bet is to use terrain choices to mitigate the uncertainty. Stick to slopes less than 30 degrees without steep slopes above
Avalanche Conditions Talk on Friday
This Friday, Feb. 28, from 5 – 8 p.m. the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) will host a Vail Backcountry Avalanche Conditions Talk with Jason Konigsberg. Residents are invited to learn more about how the forecast is created and last year’s historic cycle. The event will be held at the Mountain Art Collective in Vail (former Cascade Theater) and is free to enter, with a suggested $20 donation to support Friends of CAIC – a 501c3 nonprofit funding the CAIC and avalanche forecasting, education, and technology.
The Historic 2019 Avalanche Season
About the CAIC
The Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) is a program within the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, Executive Director’s Office. The program is a partnership between the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Department of Transportation (CDOT), and the Friends of the CAIC (FoCAIC) a 501c3 group. The mission of the CAIC is to provide avalanche information, education and promote research for the protection of life, property and the enhancement of the state’s economy.
The History of CAIC
Since 1950 avalanches have killed more people in Colorado than any other natural hazard, and in the United States, Colorado accounts for one-third of all avalanche deaths. The Colorado Avalanche Warning Center began issuing public avalanche forecasts in 1973 as part of a research program in the USDA-Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station. The program moved out of the federal government and into the Colorado state government, becoming part of the Department of Natural Resources in 1983. The CAIC joined the Colorado Department of Transportation’s highway safety program in 1993. The Friends of the CAIC (a 501c3 group) formed in 2007 to promote avalanche safety in Colorado and support the recreation program of the CAIC.
Funding for CAIC: How To Donate
About half of the CAIC’s funding comes from an intergovernmental agreement with CDOT to provide training and forecasting for highway maintenance operations. As part of the Department of Natural Resources, close to 40% of the Center’s funding come from the Severance Tax Fund. The rest of the funding to run the program comes from the United States Forest Service, local governments, the Friends of the CAIC, and from donations from people like you. CLICK HERE to Donate.
CAIC Video Overview from February 15 Avalanche Fatality in Eagle County