Aspen area snowfall totals much less than predicted, avalanche danger “considerable” |

Aspen area snowfall totals much less than predicted, avalanche danger “considerable”

Staff report

A storm that had been forecasted to bring up to 2 feet of snow to the central mountains, including Aspen and Snowmass, by Sunday didn’t produce nearly as much as predicted.

Snowmass and Aspen reported 2 inches Sunday morning, while Buttermilk reported 1 inch and Highlands reported 4 inches.

More snow is in the forecast beginning Tuesday night through Friday, according to the National Weather Service, with the heaviest snowfall amounts favoring the northern mountains.

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center rated the Aspen zone’s avalanche danger as “considerable” Sunday, the third-highest rating on a five-tier scale. High winds, new snow, light rain and warm temperatures created “complex and dangerous conditions in the Aspen Zone,” according to the Avalanche Center’s forecast.

“The most dangerous conditions are above treeline, where you are likely to trigger large avalanches that break up to 3 feet deep on weak snow near the ground. Natural avalanches are also possible,” the forecast said. “Near treeline, it’s possible to trigger similar avalanches on north- through northeast- to east-facing slopes. Below treeline, it may not feel like December; it is possible to trigger small loose, wet avalanches on all aspects and elevations where the near-surface snow is wet.”

The Avalanche Center also warned of steep slopes with fresh deposits of wind-drifted snow. Avalanches can be triggered from a distance and from below, “so avoid traversing below steep slopes.”

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