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More than 600 avalanches were reported in Colorado in December

Nobody died in an avalanche in Colorado before the new year — something that CAIC hasn't seen since the 2018-2019 season.
Berthoud Pass avalanche_no injuries
Posted at 3:10 PM, Jan 08, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-08 17:10:13-05

More than 600 avalanches tumbled down Colorado mountains in December and while some people were caught in the slides, nobody was seriously injured, according to a monthly summary from the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.

Of the 602 avalanches recorded in December, 112 were triggered by people. In total, 10 people were caught in eight avalanches, and three were partially buried, CAIC reported.

This was the first time since the 2018-2019 winter season that nobody has died in an avalanche before the end of the year — something the CAIC said it is "very thankful" for.

In total, the 2022-2023 season saw 5,813 reported avalanches, with 122 people caught in the slides and 11 people killed in them.

While December 2023 started with a shallow snowpack, a large storm moved in on Dec. 3, and CAIC issued its first avalanche warning of the season for the Park Range, Ruby Range, and mountains around Marble.

This large amount of new snowfall on weak snowpack led to a spike in the number and size of avalanches after Dec. 3.

Berthoud Pass avalanche_no injuries
Two people skinning on Berthoud Pass were carried by an avalanche they remotely triggered from 1,000 feet away in December 2023.

About half of December's reported avalanches — 309 exactly — happened in the first five days of the month, CAIC reported. Of those, 129 were large enough to bury or kill a person. Several close calls were reported, including a snowboard rider buried up to his neck near Red Mountain Pass, a snowboarder carried in a slide near Marble, two people carried by a remotely triggered avalanche from 1,000 feet away on Berthoud Pass, and a snowboarder dragged through trees by an avalanche in East Vail.

A few days later, on Dec. 8, another storm rumbled into Colorado, dropping nearly 20 inches of snow in the Park Range, along Interstate 70 and near Aspen. Because the snowpack was stronger here, avalanches weren't as prevalent, but the state did see its largest avalanche of the season so far on Treasury Mountain near Crested Butte.

Treasury Mountain near Crested Butte avalanche

Several avalanches were reported on Dec. 13 with another storm that impacted Colorado's San Juan Mountains.

READ MORE: Tragedies, trials that led to avalanche forecasting on Colorado's US 550, Million Dollar Highway

The month closed out with a dry spell and avalanche danger hovering mostly in the "low" category.

Tragedies, trials behind Colorado's avalanche forecasting program on US 550

CAIC has an interactive map on its homepage where people can learn more about avalanche forecasts and incidents around the state.


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