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Avalanche danger high after storm dumps up to 42 inches of snow in Colorado mountains

By: The Associated Press
May 19, 2017 Updated: May 19, 2017 at 1:07 pm
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Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park was closed at Deer Ridge Junction Thursday morning. Additional snowfall forced officials to close all roads on the park's east side. Photo courtesy Rocky Mountain National park via Twitter.

Officials are warning of very high avalanche danger in Rocky Mountain National Park after a powerful spring storm brought up to 42 inches (1 meter) of snow to the Colorado high country.

Park spokeswoman Kyle Patterson on Friday recommended against traveling in avalanche-prone areas. She says anyone planning to hike, snowshoe or ski in the park should have specialized training and gear for avalanche safety.

All roads on the east side of the park were closed for a second day. Some roads on the west side were open.

The National Weather Service reports 36 inches (0.9 meter) of snow fell in Estes Park, a village adjacent to the national park. The deepest snow was reported in the mountain towns of Allenspark and Ward south of Estes Park.

Forecasters said the storm had begun to weaken Friday as it moved eastward across the state.

The snow has also postponed or moved some high school graduations and delayed the start of the state high school track meet. The tournament in suburban Denver will now have to be condensed into just Saturday and Sunday.

The snow and powerful winds has also hampered the search for a missing hiker in Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve.

The search is expected to resume Monday, weather permitting.

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