1:20pm

Thu February 28, 2013
Environment

CDOT Triggers Large Avalanches Over Berthoud And Loveland Pass

Crews from the Colorado Department of Transportation dropped explosives from a helicopter to trigger large avalanche slides Thursday.

Scott Toepfer, avalanche forecaster with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center says the slide down the Stanley avalanche path over Berthoud pass was unusually large. “[It] put more avalanched debris on the highway then many of the avalanche workers for CDOT have seen in their entire careers. The avalanche debris was higher than the roofs on the big front end loaders there to clean up the debris.”

CDOT routinely triggers controlled slides to minimize the danger for drivers. The large slabs of snow were a significant concern for CDOT. “Our CDOT forecasters had a huge sigh of relief to see these things finally clean out because they were hitting them with howitzers and explosives charges periodically over the last month or so with this storm cycle we’ve been in.”

The slides were triggered on avalanche paths including the Stanley path on Berthoud Pass, and Little Professor and Black Widow paths on the west side of Loveland pass.

“These are pretty important highway corridors that you don’t want these monsters looming over truck traffic, car traffic, skier traffic. It was a lot of sleepless nights for those forecasters.”

As more snow builds up on weaker snowpack, more large avalanches are possible in the backcountry in the coming weeks. As of Thursday, most of the high country is under moderate to considerable risk.