Avalanche 2019: The Full Report
CAIC Director Presents Epic Avy Events
“By now we had successfully severed four of the major east-west arteries of Colorado,” said Dr. Ethan Greene, Director of the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) during his presentation about the historic 2019 avalanche season in Colorado.
Dr. Greene was jokingly referring to the state’s epic avalanche season that ran particularly strong one week in March, virtually isolating Western Colorado as one major highway after another was closed from snow slide activity. And of course, Lake County took center stage in a couple of the major scenes.
The snow slide events that happened between March 1 and March 9, 2019, are fully outlined in this half-hour video presentation that takes viewers on a review of what the leading CAIC expert in the state describes as the “greatest destructives hits.” Discover what the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), CAIC and a slew of emergency responders across Colorado endured during these legendary weather events.
Check out some never-before-seen video of powder-cloud avalanches running across I-70 in Ten Mile Canyon, brilliant infra-red photography of nighttime avalanche mitigation, and the helicopter work that happens high above some of Colorado’s tallest passes as CAIC and CDOT work together bringing down the dangerous cornice and gigantic snowfields with explosives that can have sometimes have surprising outcomes.
Ever hear of the Disney Avalanche path? It was 1957 and Disney studios wanted to film an avalanche so they coordinated with the state highway department and triggered one up near Berthoud Pass. Find out what happened next – and what happened again on March 5, 2019, (without fatalities!) – in this brilliant, fact-packed presentation which was shown to a packed house at last week’s meeting of the Lake County Office of Emergency Management.
Did you know that the Hinsdale County Sheriff’s home was completely wiped out in a historic snow event that nearly cost him and his two daughters their lives?
Find out how they are doing. And a bit closer to home watch as the cars that got caught up in the “Y” Chute Avalanche on Highway 91 get plucked out of a pine-tree-packed debris field by an emergency responder.
Did you know – and some of you do because you LIVED through it – that site of the deadliest Avalanche in Colorado history happened in southern Lake County in the Village of Twin Lakes in 1962? Was it the same path that shut down the highway and took out power during the recent March 9 slide at Monitor Rock? Find out as Dr. Greene shows the “Atlas of Avalanches” map for Twin Lakes.
If you’ve got avalanche questions, Dr. Greene has the answers, and if he doesn’t, he and the CAIC team know where to find them. Thanks for all the great intel, Ethan! Colorado’s fortunate to have such a solid CAIC team and America’s highest city is grateful to have four members of that staff living right here in Leadville Today.
Independence Pass to OPEN TONIGHT
In an announcement that surprised many area residents, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) announced yesterday that crews are looking to open Independence Pass around 5:30 p.m. today, Friday, May 31.
With the helicopter mission with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center completed last Friday, May 24 CDOT has determined that conditions are safe to open the seasonal roadway to the public. Each year, CDOT crews work with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) to perform avalanche mitigation clearing up to one dozen slide paths that can impact the roadway.
According to a media advisories released to outlets late on May 30, other important work that CDOT crews are performing includes:
- clearing avalanche slide paths
- clearing snow, ice and other debris (from slide paths) from the roadway and shoulders
- moving concrete barriers before clearing ditches
- hauling out loads of rock debris from the ditches
- blading asphalt millings on the shoulders to set barrier
- resetting barriers and replacing any additional that may have been damaged
(Much of the damaged barrier is recycled for other public agency use, saving disposal costs.)
- repairing/replacing signs, guardrail and roadside delineators
- trimming trees and brush
- patching potholes
- striping the highway
CDOT crews will continue the business of keeping this and other state highway mountain passes safe and in good condition for the ensuing summer season. Motorists and cyclists should always check conditions prior to traveling mountain passes, as spring snowstorms could close them temporarily or slow traffic at times.
The advisory also encouraged motorists to check COtrip.org for status updates before making plans to travel the highway.