At about 4 pm this afternoon a massive natural avalanche hit State Highway 91, near Copper Mountain, CO, burying multiple cars. Colorado Department of Transportation reported that four cars were caught in the avalanche, in an area that hadn’t slid before. At least one vehicle was turned completely upside down and totally buried, but there were no injuries and all persons are accounted for.
The slide covered about 300 feet of the roadway, with snow about 15 feet deep, said Colin Remillard, a spokesman with the Colorado State Patrol. Remillard added that in addition to the massive avalanche that trapped cars on CO 91, there were “multiple” others in the same area. Where exactly they occurred or to what extent is currently unknown.
The department said that it was the first ever recorded avalanche on Resolute Cliff, an area CDOT has never performed mitigation work. The highway will remain closed through the night.
Colorado is currently experiencing “historic” avalanche conditions as drivers deal with several highway and road closures triggered by massive slides happening across much of the central part of the state. There have been at least 190 avalanches reported in the state over the past week, one of them deadly.
“I think it’s pretty safe to say that nobody that is alive has seen a week like this,” said Colorado Avalanche Information Center’s Ethan Greene, adding that he expected CAIC forecasters to be busy for the next week.
In a Facebook post on Thursday morning, CAIC said four backcountry zones have gone to extreme (5 of 5) Avalanche Danger for the first time since the 10-zone forecast format began. Warnings are in place for the Front Range, Steamboat and Flat Tops, Vail and Summit County, Sawatch, Aspen, Gunnison, Grand Mesa and the San Juan Mountains.