Colorado’s top weather-related killer may surprise you |

Colorado’s top weather-related killer may surprise you

Since 1999, avalanches are Colorado’s top weather-related killer, according to data from the Storm Events Database

Colorado traffic snow
Semi-trucks, top, turn across Interstate 70 to head back towards Denver as I-70 westbound was closed from Georgetown, Colo., to Silverthorne due to avalanche reduction work Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017. All cars and trucks had to turn around. Portions of I-70 as well mountain passes on other highways are being periodically closed so crews can trigger avalanches to prevent surprise slides, leaving drivers to wait it out.
Andy Cross/The Denver Post via AP

A map posted online this month by Washington Post meteorologist and co-founder Ian Livingston shows the “most frequent cause of weather fatalities by NWS County Warning Area,” which divides the country by the 122 National Weather Service offices.

What was the most common weather-related killer among the three Colorado-based weather service offices? Avalanches.

Weather-related fatalities along the Front Range tend to be caused more by flooding and lightning, at least based on official weather-related fatalities logged by the National Weather Service during the past 20 years.

That said, it’s often avalanches that create the most weather-related heartbreak each year. Since 1999, 119 avalanche fatalities have been recorded in Colorado, or an average of about six per year. That’s the most avalanche-related deaths of any state in that 20-year period. Alaska is next, with 88 avalanche-related deaths since 1999.

Eight avalanche deaths were recorded in Colorado last winter, all of which took place this calendar year, according to the American Avalanche Association.

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