A snow avalanche (also known as a snowslide) is a mass of snow, ice, and debris flowing and sliding rapidly down a steep slope. It is defined in state statutes as a geologic hazard. Because of its climate and rugged terrain, avalanches have killed more people in Colorado than any other state. Each year more people in Colorado die in avalanches than any other natural hazard. Several publications on avalanches are available through our Bookstore.
The Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) is a program formally within the Colorado Geological Survey that addresses avalanche safety and science. The CAIC works to reduce the impact of avalanches on the citizens and economy of Colorado through a program that combines avalanche forecasting, safety education, and applied research. The CAIC works closely with the Department of Transportation to reduce the avalanche hazard along the state’s highway system, as well and issuing weather and avalanche forecasts for public recreation.
Please enjoy this video production, Avalanche Hazards in Colorado, by the Colorado Geological Survey:
The Battleship is a large avalanche path along US 550 in southwestern Colorado. It is located in the San Juan Mountains about 3.5 miles north of Silverton. The top of the start zone is at 12,400 feet, and avalanches can fall 2,720 feet to Mineral Creek, but very large slab avalanches such as this one can climb the 250 feet from the creek to the highway. This avalanche buried US Highway 550, 3 feet deep and 800 feet wide on February 28, 1987, Red Mountain Pass, Colorado. Photo by Tim Lane.