On the Hill: Stay informed, stay safe | AspenTimes.com

On the Hill: Stay informed, stay safe

Aspen Times Staff

The Colorado Geological Survey’s Colorado Avalanche Information Center began providing mountain weather and avalanche forecasts to communities across the state last weekend.

The CAIC, housed with the National Weather Service in Boulder, provides daily mountain weather and avalanche information. Additionally, six forecasters in strategically located mountain offices provide daily forecasts specifically for the Colorado Department of Transportation. One forecaster is now housed in the Roaring Fork Valley.

The Aspen Times today begins publishing daily avalanche reports, with warnings about avalanche dangers in the Central Rockies based on CAIC’s daily updates.

Each day the CAIC analyzes snow conditions for avalanche potential. This is particularly important in Colorado, where climate and geography have earned it the dubious distinction of being the deadliest of all 50 states.

With dramatic increases in the number of people pursuing winter sports in the backcountry, the need for increased avalanche awareness and safety has become acute. According to Nick Logan, associate director of CAIC, 76 people were reported caught in avalanches last year, which was slightly above average. Of those, 10 were injured, and there were five avalanche deaths ” one less than normal.

For more information on CAIC programs or to order copies of CAIC publications, please call the Colorado Geological Survey at (303) 866-4762 or visit the CAIC website at geosurvey.state.co.us/avalanche.

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Aspen-area residents can obtain information on snowpack conditions and weather by calling 920-1664.

On Monday, seven relatively small slides were reported around the northern mountains mainly on northeast aspects.

In the Crested Butte area Monday, one east aspect slide was reported from Purple Mountain near Irwin; it ran about 500 vertical, was 50 feet wide with a crown depth estimated at up to 2 feet. One other slide, probably older, was observed from some distance away on Mount Axtell ” a natural soft slab; no aspect or elevation was reported.

The avalanche report for the central mountains is low with pockets of moderate below treeline, moderate near and above treeline, with areas of considerable on lee aspects and cross-loaded slopes.

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