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Avalanche Danger Could Be Worst In Colo. History

LOVELAND PASS, Colo. (CBS4/AP) - A storm system that's been socking parts of Colorado's mountains with snow isn't over yet.

There was a lull in the system Wednesday, but snow was expected to intensify again later in the day into Thursday.

The National Weather Service says the heaviest snow is expected from the top of the Grand Mesa to the Elk and West Elk Mountains, including the area near Crested Butte.

An avalanche warning for those areas as well as for the mountains around Steamboat Springs remains in effect. The Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) said 1 to 2 feet fell in the warning area between Tuesday and Wednesday mornings.

Experts are worried about some spots that aren't typically a problem because the overall snowpack is incredibly delicate right now. Avalanche forecasters are now saying Colorado may see the most dangerous avalanche conditions in state history.

Skiers who don't want to pay for a lift ticket like to go to Loveland Pass and hitchhike for runs. It's typically safe to ski there, but not right now.

"You feel this little sense of safety that probably doesn't really exist because you're so close to a major thoroughfare, there's people skiing and riding all over the place," Scott Toepher with CAIC said.

Toepher is very concerned about an avalanche on Loveland Pass. The danger level is on the cusp of being called extreme.

"We could really see some big avalanches that we haven't seen in 50, maybe even 100 years if this kind of snow comes in like they say," Toepher said.

For too many people safety isn't a concern. When it snows, people will come despite the warnings.

On Tuesday the Colorado Department of Transportation cleaned up one of the largest avalanches they've seen on Loveland Pass in 40 years. The CAIC says in order for the danger to drop, they need to see a huge period where there are no storms in the state, which is unlikely to happen.

(TM and © Copyright 2010 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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