132 Colorado Avalanches Since Friday, 3 People Killed
The avalanche season is underway in Colorado and it has already turned deadly.
Since Friday, there have been 132 avalanches in the state and 49 have been triggered by people. Nine people were caught in avalanches over the weekend, and 3 Coloradans lost their lives.
On Saturday, two skiers were killed in the backcountry north of Silverton. A body recovery mission was conducted Sunday by the San Juan County Sheriff's Department and San Juan County Search and Rescue. The bodies were identified as 51-year-old Albert Perry and 55-year-old Dr. Jeff Paffendorf, both of Durango.
On Friday, a solo skier was killed in an avalanche west of Crested Butte in an area locally known as Friendly Finish.
The weekend wrapped up what was an active week in Colorado's high country. According to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, in the past week, there were 380 reported avalanches in the state, and 108 of them were triggered by people.
There is good news and bad news on this first day of winter.
The good news is the Colorado snowpack is currently below average across the state and the avalanches have been small - though easy to trigger. The bad news is the avalanches have grown in size this week and will continue to get bigger - and more dangerous as Colorado gets more snow.
The CAIC says this isn't the "landscape-changing event" we had in March of 2019, but it is the weakest snowpack the state has seen since 2012. The avalanche conditions aren't unprecedented, but they are worse than a lot of people are used to. People may be using standard avalanche safety strategies that have worked in recent years, but the current conditions in the state require even more caution.
For anyone who is planning on snow activities in Colorado's high county, the best thing to do is to check the avalanche forecast before heading out. The CAIC has some great information on their website. Know what the conditions are and what they are going to be. It also makes a lot of sense to educate yourself about the dangers of avalanches, signs of dangerous conditions, what types of areas you should avoid, and safety measures you should take when skiing the backcountry.
As you would expect, more people die in avalanches in Colorado than in any other state. The CAIC wants everyone to know this year's conditions are especially dangerous, so please be extra cautious when heading out.