Huge Avalanches Hit Western States

Feb 18, 2014

The Bull of the Woods Class 5 slide on Sunday took out 150-year-old trees.
Credit Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center

The Rocky Mountain states have experienced avalanche activity in recent weeks that forecasters are calling ‘historic.’

Wyoming experienced some of its largest avalanches in decades. "These are thirty, fifty, maybe a hundred year events," says Bridger Teton Avalanche Center director Bob Comey.

The spate of slides culminated this weekend, with avalanches burying several roads and popular trails in the Jackson area.

"The previous weekend, we had our first huge avalanche," Comey says.  "That occurred in a place called Beaver Mountain. It ran full path, run up the other side of the basin, took out mature trees -- trees that were probably over a hundred years old."

Comey says heavy snowfall, warm temperatures and high winds created conditions for the unusually large slides.

While several backcountry snowmobilers and snowboarders were caught in avalanches, no one was killed in Wyoming, unlike in Idaho and Colorado.

The avalanche danger remains "considerable," which means human-triggered avalanches are likely in some areas, but Comey says overall, the snowpack has stabilized considerably in the last 48 hours.