Highway 50 near Echo Summit in California was closed Sunday when a natural avalanche came down and struck a car. The avalanche pushed a white Nissan Xterra into the oncoming lane directly into the path of a Jeep Grand Cherokee, causing a head-on collision. The avalanche occurred around 3:35 pm in a known avalanche path near Frog Pond.
The 72-year-old driver was injured and transferred to the hospital with non-serious head and neck injuries according to the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office (EDSO). Both cars sustained serious damage and the Xterra came to rest against the guardrail buried up to its windows with snow. The buried car had no injuries involved.
EDSO said this slide was the “largest yet this spring” and they were joined by California Highway Patrol, Caltrans and Lake Valley Fire in getting all involved off of the highway safely.
The highway opened a couple of hours later, once the snow was cleared. This was the second closure of the day. Earlier Sunday afternoon the road was closed for crews carrying out avalanche mitigation work.
The threat of loose wet avalanches — slides caused by prolonged warming of the snow from the sun and balmier temperatures — has been persistent across the Sierra since at least the beginning of April, according to the Sierra Avalanche Center.