Aspen avalanche danger spikes with storm
The avalanche danger is expected to reach the high level by today, the Colorado Avalanche Information Center said Sunday.
“Avalanche danger will be increasing as a strong winter storm continues with heavy snowfall,” the center said. “Avalanche conditions will become very dangerous and reach high (Level 4) by (today). Large natural and human-triggered avalanches will become likely in the backcountry. Be alert for changing conditions.”
The avalanche center reported that the latest storm surge starting Sunday and extending into today could dump as many as 30 inches of snow on the higher elevations surrounding Aspen.
The snow that fell Saturday night and Sunday and will fall today won’t bond with old snow layers, so anyone venturing into the backcountry is likely to trigger slides. Blase Reardon, avalanche forecaster for the Aspen zone, previously said the terrain just outside the ski areas of Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands and Snowmass is just as susceptible to avalanches as any slopes located farther in the backcountry.
Avalanche forecaster Spencer Logan likened the snowpack situation to the game Jenga.
“As you build higher, the tower wobbles more and more,” he wrote. “Before the end of the game it is hard to predict on which turn the game will end. We do know the stack will eventually come crashing down.”
He added, “Currently, it looks like snowfall will push the snowpack toward the brink on Sunday. Human-triggered avalanches will become likely if we get the upper ranges of snowfall. It looks like the breaking point might come Sunday night or (today).”
High danger is expected well into the week. Go to http://avalanche.state.co.us/forecasts/backcountry- avalanche/aspen for the latest forecast.
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