Colorado under historic extreme avalanche danger, A Basin closes

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Colorado Avalanche Information Centre.

Colorado has had some big storms in recent weeks and with big storms have come big avalanches.

The Colorado Avalanche Information Centre has declared four backcountry zones at an Extreme level (5 of 5). This is the first time that four have simultaneously been extreme since the ten zone forecast format began for the region.

The Centre revealed on their Facebook page today that “Historic avalanches are running. Do not travel in or near avalanche terrain.

Avalanche Warnings are in place for the Front Range, Steamboat and Flat Tops, Vail and Summit County, Sawatch, Aspen, Gunnison, Grand Mesa, and San Juan Mountains.”

So now you know, don’t go.

I-70 closed both sides of Vail Pass

The main access freeway, the I-70, to the Colorado ski resorts is currently closed due to avalanches as reported by The Vail Daily.

“Ironically, a tow truck was caught in that first slide in The Narrows on Vail Pass and had to be pulled out by another tow truck, CDOT reported. No one was injured.”

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A Basin closes due to extreme avalanche danger

Arapahoe Basin has also closed today due to the extreme conditions with the following warning.

We have seen a bit of avalanche activity in the East Wall / Humbug Chutes area. We haven’t seen too many other avalanches within the ski area although there are still many areas yet to be traveled. Our major concerns are the avalanche paths that threaten the highway and the base area, specifically The Professor and the Widowmaker. CDOT did shoot The Professor this morning without results. There was a large natural slide out of Grizzly Bowl that touched the highway just above the CDOT Barn.
 
We do have teams working on the mountain. The Ski Patrollers are running their avalanche routes. The Lift Crew is digging out the chairlifts and getting them going. Snow plows and snowcats are trying to keep travel lanes open. The Base Area crew is shoveling and shoveling and shoveling trying to un-bury the buildings.
 
We had a brief lull in snowfall, but it has picked back up again. We may see several more inches by morning. At this time, no one in our leadership circle is comfortable opening the highway and the parking lots. We continue to work very closely with CDOT. There is no chance we will open today. Our avalanche mitigation efforts are continuing. Stay tuned for more updates about tomorrow.
 
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Rachael Oakes-Ash is the name behind @misssnowitall and the founder of SnowsBest.com. A long time travel and lifestyle journalist and ski writer, she's been published in ESPN, TIME, Wallpaper*, Action Asia, Inside Sport, Australian Financial Review, Emirates Open Skies, Conde Nast Traveler and more. She was the Fairfax snow blogger from 2007 to 2017 and the Southern Hemisphere editor for OnTheSnow. Rachael is also a documentary producer, author, radio announcer and humorist.

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