Colorado Named Deadliest State for Avalanches

Dec 30, 2019
  • Colorado is known for its beautiful Rocky Mountains and especially mountain activities during the winter such as skiing and snowshoeing. Even with all the winter fun, however, avalanche occurrences are still a very real possibility. A report from ABC Denver 7 details how Colorado is once again the state with the deadliest avalanches.

    A Record Year for Colorado

    Data gathered by the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) shows that the state had 4,273 incidents of avalanche activity over the 2018-2019 season. The organization said that this year was extreme, in that many incidents ended up covering entire highways and disrupting traffic.

    Unique Climate

    Deputy Director for CAIC Brian Lazar commented on why Colorado is so prone to avalanches, stating that “We have thin snowpack with dry periods — which gives us all the sunshine we love — that forms weak layers in the snow [and] we tend to have a more dangerous snowpack in and of itself and it’s in close proximity to lots of people.”

    Overall 287 people have been killed as a result of avalanche activity in Colorado since the 1950s. This amount greatly surpasses other state totals such as Washington, which only has suffered 130 fatalities, and neighboring state Utah which has only had 120 deaths.

    Be Prepared

    Mr. Lazar also spoke about the need for individuals to be ready for any potential avalanches, especially if they are skiing or hiking in the backcountry, where terrain can be unpredictable. Having the correct equipment: at least an avalanche transceiver, probe, and a shovel is also key. Being able to correctly read the forecast and get an idea of when the risk for an avalanche occurrence is also important, and Mr. Lazar says those who need avalanche education should do their research before going out into the mountains.

    Injured in an Avalanche?

    If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in an avalanche through no fault of your own, contact our office at  to schedule a free consultation. Click here to view our practice area page on personal injury for more information.