CAIC: Colorado Avalanche Information Center

2010/03/19 - Colorado - Southwest of Creede

Published 2010/10/29 by Mark Mueller - Forecaster, CAIC


Avalanche Details

  • Location: Southwest of Creede
  • State: Colorado
  • Date: 2010/03/19
  • Time: Unknown
  • Summary Description: 2 people caught, buried and killed in a roof avalanche
  • Primary Activity: Resident
  • Primary Travel Mode: --
  • Location Setting: Town/Settlement

Number

  • Caught: 2
  • Partially Buried, Non-Critical: 0
  • Partially Buried, Critical: 0
  • Fully Buried: 2
  • Injured: 0
  • Killed: 2

Avalanche

  • Type: R
  • Trigger: Unknown
  • Trigger (subcode): Unknown
  • Size - Relative to Path: R5
  • Size - Destructive Force: D2
  • Sliding Surface: --

Site

  • Slope Aspect: NE
  • Site Elevation: 9000 ft
  • Slope Angle: 27 °
  • Slope Characteristic: Roof

Avalanche Comments

Entire northeast facing roof avalanched. Roof material was metal. Gable style roof. The southwest facing portion of the roof which is much less steep and heavily shaded by trees did not slide.

Weather Summary

The area received above average snowfall during the 2009-2010 accumulation season(see Snowpack Summary). Between March 10 and March 18 the Grayback SNOTEL site received 1.1 inches of precipitation.

Snowpack Summary

It has been a snowy winter in the local area. The nearby snowpack is about 1m deep with the lower half cohesionless faceted grains. At the nearby Upper Rio Grande SNOTEL site, snowpack water content is 152% of average (the highest percentage in the state) and accumulated precipitation is 107% of average. The local weather has transitioned to spring-like conditions with warmer temps in the last two weeks.

Events Leading to the Avalanche

Both persons were below the roof with shovels when the accident occurred. There were no witnesses.

Accident Summary

There were not witnesses to this accident.

Rescue Summary

First rescuers (2) arrived in the dark and had to hike in on an unplowed driveway about 150 yds. Initial rescuers inspected home and property for signs of missing persons. At the time it was not known that a roof avalanche was the problem. Third rescuer located subject 1 with spot probe almost immediately upon arrival near the north end of the deck. Subject 2 was located shortly thereafter about 10' away toward the south end of the deck.

Comments

There are no witnesses to the accident. This description is based on observations of rescuers, and the best guess of the investigators. Two people went to inspect a summer home. They intended to do some snow removal around the home and carried large scoop shovels. The house has a northeast facing deck that looks over the Rio Grande River. The roof does not extend over the deck. They circled the house and were walking on snow piled on the deck (depth above the short deck railing) when the entire northeast facing roof released. They most likely had little time to react to the avalanche. The edge of the roof was 1 to 2 feet away from them and a little above waist high. They either leapt for safety off the deck or were immediately knocked off the deck and both buried prone with their heads downhill in the direction of the avalanche flow. They were not carried downhill in the avalanche flow. They were buried where they fell or leapt off the deck.

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