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Dangerous Avalanche Conditions Expand In Colorado, Reach Level 4 of 5

DENVER (CBS4) - A powerful storm will continue to bring snow and wind to most mountain areas in Colorado on Friday. Denver and the Front Range remains dry while the conditions in the mountains keeps the avalanche danger high.

Early Friday morning the Colorado Avalanche Information Center extended the existing Avalanche Warning until 7am Saturday and expanded the warning north to include the mountains surrounding Steamboat Springs. The warning now includes almost every mountain area in Colorado north of Highway 50.

(source: CBS)

Officials strongly discourage any travel in the backcountry through at least early Saturday and skiers and snowboarders should stay in-bounds at ski areas where avalanche conditions are continuously monitored. On Thursday, a skier was caught and killed in an avalanche in the East Vail backcountry.

In terms of new snow on Friday, the heaviest amounts will be found across the mountains surrounding Steamboat Springs. A Winter Storm Warning is in effect for Rabbit Ears Pass and surrounding mountains including the Steamboat ski area for 10 to 18 inches of additional snow along with wind gusts up to 50 mph. The combination of snow and wind will create blizzard conditions at times along the higher stretch Highway 40.

(source: CBS)

Farther south there are Winter Weather Advisories along the I-70 mountain corridor from Georgetown to Avon, south into Aspen and Fairplay, and north into the Flat Tops and Rocky Mountain National Park region. These areas will get at least 4-8 inches of snow through early Saturday morning with some areas getting as much as 10 inches above 9,000 feet.

(source: CBS)

Denver and the Front Range will get no snow through the weekend but it will be chilly on Friday and Saturday with highs in the 40s. Sunday will be somewhat warmer with highs reaching at least the lower 50s in the metro area.

And although the snow and wind has elevated the avalanche danger, it's much needed moisture in Colorado. Most river basins in the state are running at least 20% below normal with snowpack compared to what's normal at this point in the season. The statewide average as of Thursday was 81%.

(source: CBS)

The next chance for any snow in the metro area will hold off until at least early next week.


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