Avalanche center reports recent snow slides on Buffalo Pass near Steamboat Springs
December 21, 2012
Steamboat Springs — The Colorado Avalanche Information Center has downgraded its rating of the snow slide danger in the backcountry surrounding Steamboat Springs, but the risk still is "considerable" at all elevations and aspects and slides were spotted northeast of Steamboat on Thursday.
There were no reports of anyone being caught in the slides and it is unknown whether they were triggered naturally.
The Avalanche Information Center received reports of two observed snow slides on Buffalo Pass. One was spotted in a gully at 9,500 feet. The slide was described as being 60 meters wide and running 200 vertical feet, leaving a large amount of debris behind in a gully.
A second, larger slide at similar elevation was estimated to be 300 meters wide and took place on a slope averaging 32 degrees in steepness. It broke to the ground in places and ran 300 feet.
"Over the past few days, storms have dumped a very large load of snow onto the snowpack. The snowpack was very weak before the storm," avalanche forecaster Scott Toepfer wrote in an online report shortly after 5 a.m. Friday. "The weak old snow creates a persistent slab problem. All the new snow now means avalanches could be large or very large. Human-triggered avalanches are likely (Friday) on steep slopes."
As recently as Thursday, the Avalanche Information Center rated the danger in the area as "high" at all elevations on aspects from northwest to southeast.
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With another storm expected to arrive on Christmas Eve, the snowpack will become more complex and perhaps precarious.
To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com