DENVER (CBS4) – Experts are saying the size and frequency of the most recent avalanches are unlike anything they’ve seen before.
“Some of these avalanche paths we’re seeing run haven’t run in a long time and some of the ones that we do see run are running bigger than we’ve seen in decades,” said Brian Lazar with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.
Lazar said that on average Colorado will see five to six deaths in an entire season.
Just two months into the year Colorado has already hit that mark with the first fatality happening in early January and the last four happening this past week alone.
“We just had two storms of pretty epic portions dropping about four feet of snow or more in a two-day time period. This loaded and tested a lot of those weak layers. Many of them failed and avalanched during the storm,” said Lazar.
Those slopes that haven’t slid are an accident waiting to happen.
“Those slopes that didn’t avalanche during the storm are kind of just sitting there and waiting for one extra little nudge to get them slide,” said Lazar.
According to Lazar, this year the trigger for most avalanches is often backcountry skiers and boarders, people who are in the wrong place at the wrong time.
“Some people will carry rescue gear, but the sizes of the avalanches we’ve been seeing recently are not survivable really if you get caught in them,” said Lazar.
Avalanches also threaten a number of highways in Colorado but experts said those areas are much easier to control while backcountry terrain is unpredictable.
Lazar’s team is advising all travelers to stay out of the dangerous terrain and often check the CAIC website for updates.