Avalanche Watch in effect in Colorado mountains

Posted at 3:00 PM, Dec 21, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-21 20:18:32-05

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center is issuing an Avalanche Watch for most major areas across Colorado, as snow moves through the mountains.

The alert comes after two snowboarders escaped injury during an avalanche in the back country southwest of the Breckenridge ski area on Saturday. According to CAIC, the rider triggered the avalanche on a southeast aspect near the treeline. One boarder was partially buried. The other witnessed the slide and went for help. No one was seriously injured, unlike the situation in Montana over the weekend. An avalanche buried three snowmobilers there, killing one of them.

1 killed after avalanche buries 3 people near Montana-Wyoming line

“If this storm pans out the way it’s looking, it will most definitely increase the hazard posed by avalanches,” said Brian Lazar, deputy director of the avalanche center.

Officials say the mountain storm could put stress on the existing snow, creating new problems, especially for anyone skiing, snow shoeing or snowmobiling in the high country.

“We could be seeing in this incoming storm a foot or more of new snow by Wednesday morning.  And it’s unlikely our snow pack will be able to handle that.  What we’ll be seeing is widespread avalanches,” said Lazar.

Up to 3 feet of snow in mountains this week


Forecasters stress the importance of knowing the conditions before you start.  What may look soft, can be lethal when the snow starts to shift.

“In the large scale of avalanches, you can be breaking, trees two feet in diameter and knocking buildings. They could be large enough to knock a train off the tracks type thing.”