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Avalanche Danger High, CAIC Adds Informative Video To Website

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Scott Toepfer from the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (credit: CBS)

Scott Toepfer from the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (credit: CBS)

SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – After Monday’s snow storm in the mountains the avalanche danger throughout the state is some of the highest all winter.

It’s not just the snowfall accumulation from Monday that’s creating the dangerous situation; the strong winds are contributing to create potentially deadly conditions.

CBS4’s Jeff Todd on Tuesday met with Scott Toepfer from the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) at the top of Vail Pass.

“I can’t even isolate a block; this snow is sliding off so easily,” Toepfer demonstrated.

He dug a snow pit to show why avalanche danger throughout the state is considerable.

“We have a weak foundation, so this new slab resting on those old snow layers is going to be overwhelmed by even small amounts of snow with wind,” Toepfer said.

The problem is the dry winter so far has left an unstable base below the new snow that fell Monday.

“Some very sugary snow that has formed throughout the winter, which means it won’t support a great deal of new load.”

Even with the potential danger, there were plenty of snowmobilers and skiers headed into the back country.

“This morning I looked at the CAIC avalanche report,” a back country skier said.

The report that’s been put out since the 1970s is now becoming more high tech. The CAIC just started to publish video forecasts and explanations of recent avalanches.

“Text just doesn’t cut it anymore. People want to visually see what the problems are,” Toepfer said.

With more storms expected this week the CAIC may be putting out a lot more videos in the days to come.

“We’re probably going to see a lot more avalanches over the next 5 or 6 days over Colorado,” Toepfer said.

To find the avalanche forecast for your part of the state and to see the avalanche center’s videos, visit the CAIC website.

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