(CBS4) — After a storm when the Rockies are capped with fresh powder, it’s hard not to want to go up to the hills to have a little fun, but the Colorado Avalanche Information Center says be careful where you make your playground.
“In the Vail, Summit and Front Range zones, we have really bad snowpack on northerly and easterly facing aspects,” says Michael Cooperstein, and Avalanche Forecaster with the CAIC says.
This winter’s weather has been great for creating avalanches. In October, we had some snow but then it just got cold and dry. Then in December, it finally started snowing again, but the weight of that snow on top of the weak October snow means lots of avalanches. Especially in those aforementioned zones.
“Over the past few days we’ve seen quite large human triggered avalanches on those aspects,” says Cooperstein.
The CAIC posted video to their Facebook page Saturday of an avalanche that happened on Friday. The skier caught in the slide used his airbag and came out unscathed, but that is not a reason to push your luck and ski the big hills.
“You can trigger from flat areas under these steep slopes,” says Cooperstein.
If you wondered if even more snow from this weekend’s storm means conditions have improved, it hasn’t. In some cases, it has made things even more dangerous.
“It hides some of the evidence of wind loading at upper elevations,” says Cooperstein. “We didn’t receive that much snow this time. We don’t expect natural avalanches, but it will hide some of the telltale signs there is danger.”
That doesn’t mean you can’t go enjoy everything the Rockies have to offer, you just have to be careful where you go.
“You can just stick to lower angle terrain and have a good day,” says Cooperstein.
If you want to know what zones are safe for skiing or boarding, you can check the CAIC Forecast regions map online.