Avalanche Responsible for Death in Colorado near Telluride

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23 Jan 2024 9:35 PM

One skier has died in an avalanche in Southwest Colorado near Ophir, which is about 5 miles directly south from Telluride Mountain Resort. Sheriffs closed the Waterfall Creek Area from overnight Monday into Tuesday while they were performing search and rescue operations. According to officials, "Dispatchers received a call last night stating the male party was overdue from his backcountry outing. A rescue mission was launched and continued into the night. This morning SAR resumed its search using air resources and bombing mitigation to insert a team of rescuers in an effort to locate this individual." Sadly, the person missing was located on Tuesday morning.

The avalanche threat in this are remains moderate - considerable over the next few days. Please avoid any backcountry skiing and carry an avalanche beacon with you if you must go out.

The area saw roughly 2-4" of snow since this weekend, and new snow combined with warming temperatures have lead to unstable slopes. Additional snowfall accumulation over the next 48 hours will be much of the same through the San Juan mountains of Colorado with most of the snow and rain ending up in Arizona and New Mexico.

As mentioned, warming temperatures can contribute to the avalanche threat. Last week temperatures were in the single digits and teens across Colorado and have been gradually warming and highs have been at or above freezing in the area the last few days which could melt snow which then refreeze overnight.

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