DENVER (KDVR) — Any time there is a snowstorm, it increases the risk of avalanche danger.
The natural hazard kills six people on average in Colorado every year.
Ethan Greene, director of the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, told FOX31 it takes a little bit of knowledge, training and the proper equipment to avoid them.
The map on the CAIC’s website showed no avalanche danger in the state of Colorado on Saturday, but forecasters said that’s all about to change.
“Anytime we have a snowstorm, we’re going to see the increase in the avalanche danger,” Greene said.
He said how much and where the avalanche danger increases depends on the time of year.
“We document over 5,000 avalanches a year. We put out daily products for public recreation and for the Colorado Department of Transportation to manage the avalanche threats to the state and federal highways. Every day starting in November and going into Memorial Day,” he said.
If you’re heading to the mountains to do some winter recreation, Greene said it’s a good idea to get some education.
“The most important thing for people to do is actually check the avalanche forecast,” he said. “We’ll have a forecast up there every day that will pretty much tell you where the most dangerous areas are so you can try and avoid them.”
If you’re traveling in avalanche terrain a lot, you’ll want to make sure you’re prepared.
“That’s having avalanche rescue equipment and avalanche rescue transceiver, a probe bowl and a shovel” Greene explained.
The group recently celebrated 50 years of education and safety. The way they track avalanches has changed dramatically over the last five decades.
“The center started out in one office in Fort Collins, mostly collecting information by calling people on the phone and talking to other groups around the state, putting out information through telex machines and eventually kind of phone recordings. Now we’re a group of 30 people spread around the state,” Greene said.
Greene said although it’s still pretty early in the season, there are places where you can trigger avalanches. They’re generally smaller, but that doesn’t mean they’re not dangerous.
The most important thing to do is check the avalanche forecast before you go out into the mountains, he said.