Tag Archives: Saguache weather

Avalanche Warnings Issued by CAIC

Remnants of an avalanche reported in the Northern San Juan Mountains on Friday, Feb. 15. Photo: Michael Ackerman/ CAIC

If you ask the locals, it’s seemed a bit more like winter in Saguache Today than in recent years. The San Luis Valley has been seeing its share of moisture this season, although more is needed to catch up with the deep reserves. But high above the valley floor is where field reporters with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) have been observing weather conditions and perhaps more importantly for backcountry adventurers, avalanche danger.

And while your own winter concerns may take you no farther than getting your driveway plowed and sidewalk shoveled, it’s important to stay situationally aware of shifting snow conditions in the mountains. Not only can these storms impact traffic with an increase in snow and rock slides blocking highways and high mountain passes. But for those in the tourism industry, it’s imperative to know where to direct visitors venturing into the backcountry to find the latest conditions and tips on how to be prepared. To that end, Saguache today brings readers the following reports issued by the CAIC within the past 24 hours.

At two miles high these wind and snow whipped pines show the “powder” scars of a harsh winter. Photo: Casey Franklin/ CAIC Field Reporter.
CAIC Field Report for Sangre de Cristos Zone

By Mike Cooperstein, CAIC Forecaster (filed at 8 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 17)

Strong winds since Thursday’s storm have moved all available snow to lee-facing slopes. North through east to south-facing slopes near and above treeline are the most dangerous today and should be avoided. We have also received reports of dangerous wind-slabs in open below treeline meadows, so do not blindly jump onto steep slopes in below treeline areas either. 

It may be a few days before we know the extent of the avalanche cycle that this unusual snow event triggered, but from what we can tell it seems like most avalanches broke within or just underneath the storm snow. These avalanches were two to three feet deep and were large and dangerous. As you would expect with a storm with this high of precipitation intensity, we have also received reports of dangerous avalanches breaking near the ground or on mid- to upper-pack layers such as near-surface facets and facets around crust. The crust-facet combos are more prevalent on sunny slopes and could be buried 3 to 5 feet deep at this point. If you trigger an avalanche on one of these persistent weak layers it will most likely be inescapable.

Snow continues today with up to 10 inches possible by Monday afternoon. The new snow will be low density., and will most likely not add enough weight to trigger another natural avalanche cycle. Slopes that continue to receive wind-drifted snow will continue to be dangerous and loading will have to stop before these slopes become more stable.

The bottom line is that this was a very large load in a short period. The general trend of the snowpack is good on a seasonal scale as we are building a deeper and stronger snowpack. For today, very dangerous conditions exist and the snowpack needs some time to adjust to this rapid load.

If you are traveling in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, these mountains received about a foot of snow with strong winds. Although this a lot less snow than the San Juan Mountains, the snowpack is much, much weaker and avalanches on deeper layers or the ground are more likely. This problem in the Sangre de Cristo zone will be slow to change.

CAIC Report for Sunday, Feb. 17, 2019 at 6 AM

This morning the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) issued the following Special Avalanche Advisory for the surrounding mountains near Saguache Today:

“A strong storm on Thursday night brought 1 to 2 feet of dense snow with strong winds to the mountains. Avalanche conditions remain dangerous especially in the Central and Southern Mountains. You can trigger avalanches that break in the new and wind drifted snow that will be large enough to bury or kill you. You may even be able to trigger very large very dangerous avalanches that break deeper in the snowpack. If you trigger one of these deeper avalanches it will most likely be inescapable. Consult the Zone Summary for the areas you are planning to travel for specific information and travel advice. Make sure you carry an avalanche transceiver, shovel and probe and know how to use all of your gear. You can always limit the chance of being caught in a dangerous avalanche by sticking to lower angle terrain without steeper connected avalanche slopes above you.

February Avalanche Accident Trends

Over the last 10 years, February has proven to be the single most dangerous month for avalanches in Colorado. Over a quarter of the fatal avalanche accidents happened during this month. In the past decade, there have been 15 fatal avalanche accidents in the month of February. Eight of those accidents occurred in the middle of the month, and 4 between Valentine’s Day and Presidents Day. Historically, this weekend has been a dangerous period for avalanche accidents. But avalanche education and safety awareness can help to break that pattern.

Close Calls in January: How It Compares?

As of January 31, the CAIC has documented 57 people caught in 42 separate avalanche events. Seven of the people have been critically (head under the snow) or fully buried, and two have died. Of those, 60% of the involvements occurred in January, including both fatalities. The 56 cumulative involvements this year are far more than recorded for all of 2017-18, 2015-16, and 2014-15. Projections indicate that the 2018-19 winter season will tally the most avalanches on record with the CAIC.

About the CAIC

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) is a program within the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, Executive Director’s Office. The program is a partnership between the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Department of Transportation (CDOT), and the Friends of the CAIC (FoCAIC) a 501c3 group. The mission of the CAIC is to provide avalanche information, education and promote research for the protection of life, property and the enhancement of the state’s economy.

History of The CAIC

Since 1950 avalanches have killed more people in Colorado than any other natural hazard, and in the United States, Colorado accounts for one-third of all avalanche deaths. The Colorado Avalanche Warning Center began issuing public avalanche forecasts in 1973 as part of a research program in the USDA-Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station. The program moved out of the federal government and into the Colorado state government, becoming part of the Department of Natural Resources in 1983. The CAIC joined the Colorado Department of Transportation’s highway safety program in 1993. The Friends of the CAIC (a 501c3 group) formed in 2007 to promote avalanche safety in Colorado and support the recreation program of the CAIC.

Funding for the CAIC

About half of the CAIC’s funding comes from an intergovernmental agreement with CDOT to provide training and forecasting for highway maintenance operations. As part of the Department of Natural Resources, close to 40% of the Center’s funding come from the Severance Tax Fund. The rest of the funding to run the program comes from the United States Forest Service, local governments, the Friends of the CAIC, and from donations from people like you.

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Avalanche Conditions Near Saguache

Avalanche Conditions Near Saguache Today

Avalanche Sangre de cristos Saguache Today CAIC

The crown of an avalanche is visible near the shade line on this easterly-facing slope. This was the only avalanche spotted in the Sangre de Cristos which probably occurred on 11/20/18 according to Ethan Greene with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.

By Ethan Greene, Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC)

Saturday’s storm took longer to reach the Southern Mountains than expected. The avalanche danger was slow to rise on Saturday, Nov. 24 but probably caught up as snowfall rates increased in the late afternoon and strong winds continued to blow overnight. Three-day totals in the North San Juan zone are: 5″ on Lizard Head Pass, 12″ around Telluride, 14″ on Red Mountain Pass, and 5″ on Slumgullion Pass. In the South San Juan zone: 8″ on Molas and Coal Bank Passes, and 7″ on Wolf Creek Pass.

Snow totals in the Sangre de Cristo Range are sparse with only a few inches recorded at below treeline sites. Wind-loading is likely the biggest issue today. Wind speeds were fairly sustained in the 15 to 30 mph range in the Northern San Juan zone during the two events, with much higher gusts. Overnight there was a significant period with winds from the north and northeast. With winds coming from the southwest, northwest, north, and northeast over the last few days, there will be recent wind slabs on lots of little terrain features. I highlighted north, northeast, east, southeast, and south as most of the new wind pillows will be on these aspects.

The spike in avalanche danger is probably much less across the Southern San Juan and Sangre de Cristo zones. There are a few reports from above treeline areas, and there was enough snow and wind to increase the avalanche danger. The avalanche danger has been reduced to LOW(Level 1) in near treeline areas to account for the modest snow accumulations and lack of avalanche activity.

With time, decreasing wind speeds, and no precipitation, the avalanche danger will slowly decrease across the entire Southern Mountain region. The danger from Persistent Slab avalanches will also decrease, but much slower than the storm instabilities. Make sure to think about where the old snow is resting under the snow that fell or drifted over the last few days. Triggering avalanches on steep shady slopes, especially with recent drifts, is a problem that won’t go away anytime soon.

Late November Conditions on Monarch Pass
The CAIC Backcountry Avalanche Forecast for The Sangre de Cristo Range

You can trigger dangerous avalanches above treeline today. A few inches of new snow and strong winds built stiff slabs in alpine areas. These new wind drifts will be most common on slopes that face northeast, east, and southeast. Look for and avoid any areas where you find warning signs of an unstable snowpack such as shooting cracks in drifted snow.
If you trigger an avalanche in wind-drifted snow the avalanche could step down to weak layers near the ground resulting in a larger, more dangerous avalanche. This is particularly true on northeast and east-facing slopes where the two avalanche problems overlap.

How to Support CAIC

The Friends of CAIC are hosting the 11th Annual CAIC Benefit Bash on Dec. 1, 2018, at the Riverwalk Center in Breckenridge as we come together to support the CAIC in their continued efforts in avalanche forecasting and education throughout Colorado. This winter’s party will feature great music from Rapidgrass, incredible beer from Breckenridge Brewery and the members of Summit County’s United Brewer’s Association (SCUBA), and dinner provided by 5 Star Catering! Tickets are available for pre-purchase for $50. Entrance fee includes one door prize ticket, two drink tickets, access to the winter’s largest gear giveaway and silent auction and a performance by the band Rapidgrass. Click here to get your tickets in advance because this event will sell out.CAIC Avalanche Map

It’s Movietime in Saguache Today

“Nutcracker” with Twist Playing in Saguache 

It’s a twist on a seasonal classic for The Nutcracker and the Four Realms which is what is playing this weekend at Cozy Castle Cinema: in downtown Saguache. Disney brings the Christmas classic into the 21st Century in this 2018 American fantasy adventure film

In this weekend’s film, Young Clara needs a magical, one-of-a-kind key to unlock a box that contains a priceless gift. A golden thread leads her to the coveted key, but it soon disappears into a strange and mysterious parallel world. In that world, she meets a soldier named Phillip, a group of mice and the regents who preside over three realms. Clara and Phillip must now enter a fourth realm to retrieve the key and restore harmony to the unstable land.

 

The Cozy Castle Cinema in downtown Saguache.

The Cozy Castle Cinema in downtown Saguache.

Showtimes are Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 4 p.m. & 7 p.m.; and Sunday at 4 p.m.

Ticket prices are $7 with children 3 and under free. The Cozy Castle Cinema is located at 403 4th St, in downtown Saguache. 719-221-4159.

Bad Weather Driving Safety Tips

Bad Weather Driving – Some Call It Ski Season

By Trooper Gary Cutler

It’s that time of year again, which means snow storms are on the horizon.  Bad weather isn’t all that bad, because with it comes all of the fun activities we like to do in Colorado such as skiing, sledding, skiing, hiking, and skiing/snowboarders.

I joke about the ski season, but when we see a good snowstorm, that’s when skiers and snowboarders head to the slopes in larger groups than normal.  Let’s talk about the situations where we just have to get around in snow storms.

Reduced speed is always a key factor in staying safe when driving on snow, or ice packed roadways.  It’s winter, so make sure you take that extra step to have the time to drive to your destination safely, which means slower than normal speeds.  Bad weather doesn’t necessarily mean we have to have bad driving.

One situation that worries me is black ice.  Ice is the unseen danger that is often a factor in winter time driving.  I’ve seen people going lower speeds when they are on snow packed roads only to speed up to, or beyond the speed limit once the road clears.  The road may still be wet, and with cold temperatures, that means it can and often freezes to the road surface.  Just because you don’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not still there.

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The Veterans Day storm left roads icy and snow packed on Monday morning across the San Luis Valley.

Slick roads also mean it’s harder to stop when less than favorable road conditions exist.  Give that extra distance needed to stop when snow or ice is present.  It’s hard to give just one correct distance for bad road conditions.  Use good common sense and the rule of thumb that it could take double the distance on wet roads and up to as much as 10 times the distance on snow and ice packed roadways to safely stop.

Also be prepared to travel in bad weather.  This means having enough “survival gear” to make it through a dangerous situation if you get stuck on the roadway.  This doesn’t always mean you’re stuck because you have crashed or slid off the roadway.  It could be just that the weather is so bad the roadways have been shut down and you are stuck with everyone else traveling with no way to get off the road for a while.

Even when you are just going on a short trip, there can be situations where you need emergency equipment with you.  The items that can save a life are blankets, flares/emergency triangles, water, shovel, food/snacks, and cell phone.  I probably don’t have to remind anyone to make sure they bring their phone though.

Here are my final tips for winter driving.  When roads are dry, drive as if it’s raining.  When roads are wet, drive as if it’s snowing.  When roads have snow on it, drive as if it’s ice.  When roads have ice on it, think about staying home that day.

So there you have it, a few simple tips to help keep you safe when driving in bad weather this year. As always, safe travels!

Roll Over_saguache Sheriff

On November 11, the Saguache County Sheriff’s Office reported this one car rollover on CO Highway 285 at mile marker 107, just North of Villa Grove. A reminder to practice safe driving habits as the icy winter months come on. Photo SCSO

 

 

Saguache News – October 27

Halloween Fun Awaits in Saguache Today

What a great way to kick off the holiday party season! The Kids Halloween Costume Party is being held in Saguache Today, Saturday, Oct. 27. Gather up those kiddos in costumes and head over to the Saguache Public Library from 4:30 – 6 p.m. This is a family-friendly event and snacks and prizes will be provided.

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The Saguache library hosts their annual Halloween party tonight from 4:30 – 6 p.m. Photo: Photo: Lynn Nowiskee/Saguache Today.

Then don’t forget next Wednesday, Oct. 31 there will be Halloween Festivities sponsored by the Saguache Volunteer Fire Department and Mountain Valley Athletics and Activity Booster Club. The fun begins at 4:30 on Halloween with a Hayrack Ride, with the doors to the firehouse opening at 5 p.m. for a chili dinner and the popular Trunk of Treat out front. The Costume Contest will be at 6:30 p.m. and determined by age. The fire house will also have Chimfex sticks for sale for $12.

If you haven’t quite put your costume together yet, then head to downtown Saguache to the Blue Earth Mercantile and Thrift Store. It’s the perfect place to find all the things you need to get decked to for some spooky fun.

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The Annual Trunk or Treat at the Fire House will be on Halloween! Photo: Lynn Nowiskee/Saguache Today.

Saguache News – October 20

“A Simple Favor” Found in Saguache Today

Here’s what #RottenTomatoes says about what’s playing this weekend at Cozy Castle Cinema: “Twisty, twisted, and above all simply fun, A Simple Favor casts a stylish mommy noir spell strengthened by potent performances from Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively.”

In this weekend’s film, Stephanie Smothers is a widowed single mother who runs a vlog with crafts and recipes. Emily is a busy working mother, a PR director for a fashion company, whose son Nicky attends the same elementary school as Stephanie’s son, Miles. Emily and Stephanie become fast friends, arranging play dates for the boys. They trade confessions and secrets. Find out Emily’s. Starring Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively and Henry Golding. Directed by Paul Feig.​

 

The Cozy Castle Cinema in downtown Saguache.

The Cozy Castle Cinema in downtown Saguache.

Showtimes are Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 4 p.m. & 7 p.m.; and Sunday at 4 p.m.

Ticket prices are $7 with children 3 and under free. The Cozy Castle Cinema is located at 403 4th St, in downtown Saguache. 719-221-4159.

Saguache News – October 16

Here Comes The Judge – Is It You!?

By Trish Gilbert, Saguache County Clerk & Recorder

Student Election Judge Program

Are you interested in shaping your community?   Voters elect our leaders and governing bodies whose decisions influence events in the state of Colorado, the United States and, as recent events have proven, the world.    Student Election Judges share firsthand in those events on election day assisting voters as they exercise their constitutional right marking their ballot choices for candidates and issues.  Contact the Saguache County Clerk’s Team today to find out how to be a part of this grass roots lesson in democracy.

ElectionDay_Saguaache Today_1

Saguache Town Election Judges (left to right) Alice Wardlow, Bill Hazard and Caroline Irwin helped residents cast their votes in the 2016 Election. Photo: Saguache Today/Kathy Bedell.

The State Legislature enacted legislation that allows Juniors and Seniors in High School to work at polling places as Student Election Judges. State Statute makes the following provisions:

  • Student Election Judges need not be registered electors.  There are no party affiliation requirements for Student Election Judges.
  • Be at least 16 years old and a Junior or Senior “in good standing” at a public or private high school at the time of the election at which they plan to work;

Submit an application;

  • Have the written consent of a parent or legal guardian;
  • Have the approval of their school’s principal or designated administrator;
  • Be U.S. citizens by the date of the election at which they are scheduled to work;
  • Be willing to serve – knowing that Election Day runs from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. – or longer;
  • Be physically and mentally able to perform the duties of an Election Judge;
  • Attend a mandatory Election Judge class prior to each election at which they work;
  • Never have been convicted of election fraud, other election offenses or fraud; and
  • Not be related to any candidate on the ballot in the precinct where they are working.
  • All applicants must have a Social Security number, which is required on the application. Students cannot be paid without a Social Security number.
  • Even before you turn 18 you can register to vote, and can take part in the election process.

BENEFITS:

  • You will be paid.
  • Practical experience serving your community.
  • Election Judge experience looks great on a resume or college application.
  • Take part in a rewarding activity while learning about the democratic process!

RESPONSIBILITIES:

  • As a student election judge, you will serve alongside other adult election judges at the VSPC (Voter Service and Polling Center). Some of the duties student election judges assist with are:
  • Checking-in voters at the polling places
  • Assisting electors in casting their ballots.
  • Serve as mail-in, mail ballot or early voting judges.

Student Election Judges will be compensated for working Election Day.  Additionally, they may receive payment for attending the mandatory Election Judge Class.

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Local Elections Matter!

Since its inception in 2000, the Colorado Secretary of State’s Student Election Judges Program has been a great success for students and a bonus for the county election officials and educators who have participated in the program. During the 2012 Presidential Election hundreds of students around the state joined the ranks of adult Election Judges working cooperatively setting up polling locations, processing voters, ballots and tallying the votes cast.

Student Election Judges will be appointed by and will serve at the discretion of the local Election Official (County Clerk).

Ultimately, we hope it motivates these students to become active voters in their communities and election judge resources for future elections.

Our team would like to give a shout out to Jody Abeyta for recruiting two students from Mountain Valley High School, Samantha Clark and Azlyn DeHerrera, who will be working with us as election judges for the General Election.  Great job Jody and ladies!!

 

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