Avalanche danger rated high

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The Colorado Avalanche Information Center has issued a backcountry avalanche warning for the Park Range and Elkhead Mountains in Northwest Colorado.

Dale Atkins of the CAIC said Wednesday that the danger is high at all elevations and slopes, regardless of facing direction, in north Steamboat Springs and Craig.

"This includes the Steamboat Lake and the Mount Zirkel Wilderness Area, where very heavy snow fell (Tuesday)," Atkins said. "The instability is in the new snow and triggered releases are likely on steep slopes and gullies."

Avalanche observer Art Judson said he drove a route through the Elkheads west of Routt County Road 62 on Wednesday morning and was able to spot the courses of 24 medium and large avalanches that have come down since the snowstorm, which produced 18 to 30 inches of snow.

"Fracture lines varied from 2 to 6 feet deep with the deepest cutting into cornices on ridge tops," Judson said. "One fracture in the Saddle Mountain group was at least one-quarter of a mile wide, and another further north was more than one-half mile in width."

Elsewhere in the "Steamboat zone," including the Flat Tops, Atkins rates the avalanche danger as considerable above 8,000 feet and moderate below that elevation.

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