A storm that delivered up to two feet of snow in two days has brought badly needed precipitation to much of the state, but also triggered numerous avalanches in the high country. The National Weather Service says a couple dozen slides were reported in Summit County alone since Friday. Strong winds shifted considerable snow into areas that could trigger more.
More than 43 slides have been reported in the San Juan Mountains in southwestern Colorado, and another 13 have been reported in the northern mountains.
One backcountry skier is lucky to be alive after being caught in an avalanche near Beaver Creek Ski Resort this afternoon. Two people were skiing outside the resort's boundaries when both were caught in a slide just after 12:00pm. One skier managed to grab onto a tree but the other skier was swept off of a 20 foot cliff and buried underneath the snow. Scott Toepfer of the Colorado Avalanche Information Center in Boulder says the man's companion saw a ski tip sticking out of the
snow and managed to dig him out.
He was not breathing when he was found underneath four feet of
snow. His companion managed to clear the man's airway and call the
resort's ski patrol, who helped him off the mountain. He was released an hour later. The man's name has not been released.
The much needed storm also delivered several inches or more of snow to parched eastern plains areas, whose farmers and ranchers have lost millions due to reduced harvests and the forced sale of livestock.
For snowriders it was a splendid weekend. Several resorts,
including Copper Mountain and Steamboat, got a couple of feet of
snow in two days. Vail got 16 inches in 24 hours.
More snow was predicted tonight and tomorrow, mostly in the
northern mountains where snow was possible every day next week.