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The environment desk at Aspen Public Radio covers issues in the Roaring Fork Valley and throughout the state of Colorado including water use and quality, impact of recreation, population growth and oil and gas development. APR’s Environment Reporter is Elizabeth Stewart-Severy.

Avalanches close highways; warnings remain

Courtesy of Colorado Avalanche Information Center

A heavy, wet winter storm has brought lots of snow and statewide avalanche warnings.

  A warning means natural avalanches large enough to bury or kill a person are very likely. Across Colorado, both natural and human-triggered slides have closed roadways and made backcountry travel treacherous.

Ethan Greene, director of the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, said this is because of the high water content in the snow. Some areas like Vail and Schofield passes are seeing in excess of 8 inches of water from the storm.

“And that’s just a huge amount of weight that’s building onto our snowpack,” he said.

Most high-elevation passes have seen natural avalanche activity in the last two days. A large slide early Tuesday morning closed Vail Pass for much of the day, and the Colorado Department of Transportation advised drivers to avoid the I-70 corridor.

Greene said it’s likely that avalanche warnings will remain through Friday, as the snowpack adjusts to the new load.

Aspen native Elizabeth Stewart-Severy is excited to be making a return to both the Red Brick, where she attended kindergarten, and the field of journalism. She has spent her entire life playing in the mountains and rivers around Aspen, and is thrilled to be reporting about all things environmental in this special place. She attended the University of Colorado with a Boettcher Scholarship, and graduated as the top student from the School of Journalism in 2006. Her lifelong love of hockey lead to a stint working for the Colorado Avalanche, and she still plays in local leagues and coaches the Aspen Junior Hockey U-19 girls.
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