Grand Mesa highway to close for avalanche control

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MESA COUNTY, Colo. (KKCO) -- The latest winter storm has brought 16 inches of new snow and a greater threat of avalanches.

Colorado Department of Transportation crews will work to control the avalanche threat, so crews are shutting down Highway 65 at 7 p.m. Thursday night in preparation, according to Nancy Shanks with CDOT. The highway will be closed near mile marker 35, which is about 1.5 miles south of the Mesa Lakes Lodge.

Powderhorn Ski Resort visitors will still be able to access the mountain from the north, but Shanks says the south access will be blocked until crews finish their work, which could last until Friday afternoon.

Avalanche control in the area is moderate, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC). To mitigate the threat, CDOT teams use charges to trigger avalanches. They set five-pound charges by hand, fire 2.2-pound rounds from a truck-mounted "avalauncher," shoot 40-pound missiles through a 105 Howitzer (leased from the Army), or drop 30- to 50- pound rounds from a helicopter.

They'll then clear the highways of resulting snow and ice.

If you need to take Highway 65 Friday, check to see if it's opened up again.

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