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Wednesday, October 14, 2020 at 12:06 PM Issued by: Brian Lazar  

Summary

The recent storm dropped from 1 to 5 inches of snow at elevations above 10,000 feet. This was not be enough snow to raise avalanche concerns, but it's a good reminder to be diligent of changing weather and evolving snowpack conditions.

Nearly every fall, avalanches catch eager riders and late-season hikers off-guard. Hunters traveling through the high country need to exercise caution on steep, snow covered terrain. Please be thinking avalanche if you visit steep slopes in the high country. Below we describe some considerations for early-season fall avalanche concerns.

Our next scheduled update is November 1, 2020. We will continue to monitor snowpack and weather conditions through the late summer and early fall, and will issue updates if we anticipate unusually dangerous avalanche conditions before then.

Weather

You can get current weather forecasts from the National Weather Service. Our computer Model Forecasts also update four times a day and will run through the summer. If you are going into the Colorado high country, use our Weather Stations by Zone page to check current conditions.

Avalanche and Snowpack Discussion - 

Avalanches are possible in the mountains of Colorado whenever you find snow on a steep slope. In general, you should consider the consequences of being caught in an avalanche before you cross any steep, snow-covered slope, but below are some avalanche problems you may encounter this fall.

Most avalanches happen during or right after a snowstorm. However, any time new snow falls and the wind moves it through the terrain, avalanches are possible. A fall snowstorm can produce small avalanches if it falls onto old snow, grassy areas or rock slabs. The best way to manage these avalanches in the fall is to have a current weather forecast, recognize when there is enough snow to produce avalanches, and select terrain that minimizes your exposure to the risk.

We will update the Field Report and Avalanche Observations as information comes in, so please send us your observations.

Storm Slab avalanches are the release of a soft cohesive layer (a slab) composed of new snow that breaks within the storm snow or on the old snow surface. They often form when new snow falls with light winds or in wind-sheltered areas. They typically last for a few days. You can reduce your risk from Storm Slabs by waiting a day or two after a storm before venturing into steep terrain. Storm slabs are most dangerous on slopes with terrain traps like gullies or cliffs, or slopes that end in timber or scree fields.

With Wind Slab avalanches, wind-drifted snow forms the cohesive layer (a slab). Wind typically transports snow from the upwind sides of terrain features and deposits snow on the downwind side. Drifted snow is often smooth and rounded, and sometimes sounds hollow. They form in specific areas leeward of terrain features. You can reduce your risk from Wind Slab avalanches by sticking to wind-sheltered or wind-scoured areas and avoiding drifted spots.

Loose Dry avalanches are a release of dry, unconsolidated snow. They start at a point and entrain snow as they move downhill, forming a fan-shaped avalanche. Loose Dry avalanches are usually relatively harmless to people. They can be dangerous if they catch and carry you into or overterrain traps like gullies or cliffs, or slopes that end in timber or scree fields.

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If you are recreating, please do so responsibly. This includes following social distancing requirements, not taking actions that risk pulling emergency service workers away from the important work they’re doing, or compromising their ability to continue that work.

Many of Colorado’s counties have issued public health orders that affect travel and recreation. You can start your search for local information for specific counties

 

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Avalanche Observations
No relevant backcountry observations found for this forecast

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Field Reports
Report Date Observer Snowpack Obs Avalanches Media

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Weather Observations
Station Date Time Temperature Relative Humidity Wind Speed Wind Direction Max Gust 24 Hr Snow
Bottle Peak Sun Oct 25 3:00 AM 36 56 23 281 29 -
Berthoud Pass Sun Oct 25 3:00 AM 29 80 20 228 36 -
Cameron Pass Sun Oct 25 3:00 AM 29 99 5 257 10 -
Loveland Pass Sun Oct 25 3:00 AM 32 61 16 250 41 -
Putney Sun Oct 25 4:00 AM 32 60 32 254 61 -
Swamp Angel Sun Oct 25 4:00 AM 39 46 5 127 22 -
Wolf Creek Pass Sun Oct 25 3:00 AM 32 57 25 224 44 -
Hayden Pass Sun Oct 25 4:00 AM 37 - - - - -
Storm Peak Observatory Sun Oct 25 4:05 AM 25 100 7 338 10 -
Taylor Park Sun Oct 25 3:57 AM 38 39 6 234 21 -

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