CAIC: Avalanche danger to increase this weekend, avoid backcountry

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JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. — The avalanche danger is set to increase across Colorado this weekend.

As of Friday night, there were avalanche warnings posted for Summit County and the areas around Aspen and Gunnison. The Colorado Avalanche Information Center expects to issue them for the Steamboat area and Front Range as soon as Saturday.

“It’s really dangerous out there right now,” Mike Cooperstein, a CAIC forecaster, told FOX31 on Friday. “So, what we’re encouraging people to do is completely avoid avalanche terrain.”

That includes the backcountry, especially the terrain with steep slopes and the areas underneath it.

The danger is increasing now because of the forecast that calls for up to a couple feet of snow in some areas, plus strong winds.

“The problems that we’re having now actually go back to early season snows in October,” Cooperstein said. “So, what happens is snow sits on the ground in October for a long time.”

Over time that snow gets weaker. Then the new snow piles on top of it, potentially weighing it down and triggering an avalanche.

So far this season, the CAIC has reports of more than 260 avalanches, including one that killed a woman near Fort Collins last weekend.

Last season, eight people died in avalanches in Colorado.