2 killed, 1 injured and 1 missing following avalanches in Colorado over the weekend

CAIC says this image is, "Looking up toward the crown face of a large avalanche near La Manga...
CAIC says this image is, "Looking up toward the crown face of a large avalanche near La Manga Pass where a snowmobiler went missing on February 25, 2023. Search efforts are ongoing."(Colorado Avalanche Information Center)
Published: Feb. 26, 2023 at 10:20 AM MST|Updated: Feb. 27, 2023 at 6:26 AM MST
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DURANGO, Colo. (KKTV) - Experts are warning that the avalanche danger has not passed in Colorado after the weekend saw two deaths, one injury and a missing person due to slides across the state.

As of Sunday night, authorities were still searching for the missing snowmobiler, who was caught in an avalanche in Conejos County one day earlier:

The Conejos County Sheriff’s Office, Conejos County Search and Rescue, the U.S. Forest Service and avalanche dog teams from the Wolf Creek Ski Area have all been involved in the search. Citizen volunteers also took part in search efforts Sunday.

Elsewhere in the state Saturday, a couple of backcountry skiers and a snowmobiler were caught in two separate avalanches about 80 miles apart. In one, which occurred near Wolf Creek Pass, the snowmobiler was carried with the snow and injured -- but survived. The other avalanche ended in tragedy with both backcountry skiers killed.

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) says the two skiers were visiting Vallecito Reservoir near Durango and failed to return home when they were supposed to. The La Plata County Sheriff’s Office was alerted.

“[The sheriff’s office] began a search,” CAIC said. “Just before midnight, a Flight For Life helicopter saw an avalanche southeast of the reservoir with tracks entering the avalanche and none exiting. La Plata County Search and Rescue found both skiers buried about 4 feet deep in avalanche debris.”

The incident remains under investigation. CAIC says its staff visited the accident site Sunday to further access what happened and are expected to release a full report in the coming days.

The search for the missing rider is ongoing Monday.

CAIC issued the following warning in the wake of the three avalanches:

“Winds over the past week have been strong and erratic. The winds drifted snow lower onto slopes than usual, and there was extensive drifting on open slopes below treeline. The drifted snow buried a weak snow layer that developed earlier in the month. While avalanche danger is slowly decreasing, you can still trigger large avalanches on many slopes, including those below treeline. Get the detailed forecast for the San Juan Mountains, and all the other major ranges in Colorado.”