The Colorado Avalanche Information Center has issued a “special avalanche advisory” in effect for the Colorado mountains through 8 p.m. Monday.
“Since January 11, the CAIC has documented 10 people caught in avalanches, 44 avalanches triggered by backcountry travelers, and over 280 avalanches in total,” the advisory, issued by Spencer Logan, said.
The risk of avalanches was considered “considerable,” and placed at Level 3 of five levels, which range from “low” to “extreme.” The avalanche center said that recent snow has created unstable conditions with “persistent weak layers” of snow that will remain problematic for “some time.”
The advisory included all major mountain ranges in Colorado from the New Mexico state line north to the Wyoming state line.
On Saturday, the Colorado Department of Transportation reopened Red Mountain Pass on U.S. Highway 550 after two days of avalanche control work.
“The snow was super-tender and very touchy,” said Vance Kelso, CDOT area maintenance supervisor. “Every slide we triggered came roaring down, plus we encountered some natural slides. Wet, heavy snow on top of a previous light, fluffy base created conditions just right for potential avalanches, a recipe for disaster.”
CDOT said crews initiated more than a dozen avalanche paths on Red Mountain Pass, many hitting the highway.
Additional snow is expected in the San Juan Mountains on Monday.
The National Weather Service in Grand Junction said the San Juan Mountains could receive up to 10 inches of snow at the highest elevations, and 4 to 8 inches at lower elevations. One to 3 inches of snow – was expected in Montezuma County, most of it coming Monday night.