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CAIC and Regional Avalanche Forcasting

Posted on October 22 2013

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) provides an invaluable resource for CDOT and backcountry travelers throughout the state of Colorado. 

Avalanche Saftey - Photo from CAIC  

Why CAIC Is So Important?

  • Avalanches account for more deaths than any other natural hazard in the state of CO dating back to 1950. 
  • Colorado accounts for 1/3 of all avalanche related deaths in the US.
  • The number of avalanche accidents for the US has increased over time 1990-2011 and decreased slightly for CO
  • Pitkin County has the highest number of avalanche related deaths for any county in CO.


 “A Dozen More Turns” Short Documentary Vid on 5 friends and an avalanche.

 A Little History

CAIC is the oldest avalanche forecasting program in the US.  It grew out of the Forest Service’s avalanche research efforts and started in 1973, originally called the Colorado Avalanche Warning Center.  CAIC has been bounced to different government sectors a few times, cut from the Forest service in '83 then picked up in Dept. of Natural Resources until it found its current home under CO Geological Survey in '87.  In 1993 CAIC began working closely with CDOT to keep travelers safe and mountain roads open as often as possible.

A Few CAIC Highlights

  • The purpose of CAIC is, “To minimize the economic and human impact of snow avalanches on recreation, tourism, commerce, industry and the citizens of Colorado.” CAIC works to achieve their mission through forecasting and education.
  • CAIC is a cash funded program under the Colorado Geological Survey.  Other funding comes from donations, contributions and the Severance Tax Fund.
  • CAIC has four offices that issue backcountry avalanche forecasts.  The HQ is in Boulder and shares space with the National Weather Service.  The three other field offices are located in Aspen, Breckenridge and The Northern San Juan. 

Other Centers Around the Country -- Colorado Avalanche Information Center -- Crested Butte Avalanche Center -- Utah Avalanche Center -- Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center -- Mount Washington Avalanche Center -- Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center -- Bozeman, MT Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center -- Missoula, MT West Central Montana Avalanche Center -- Flathead Avalanche Center -- For a complete listing of US Avalanche Centers 


Cripple Creek Backcountry will be holding "Avy Talks" the first Wednesday of every month beginning in December.  These talks are about an hour long and led by a local forecaster covering a range of topics around avalanches.  These are a great way to stay in the conversation about avalanche safety. Sign up for our newsletter to stay informed. 

Sign up for our CAIC fundraiser at Phat Thai in Carbondale, CO on Nov. 14 here

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