Avalanche Prevention Isn't Perfect

By: Elyse Webb
By: Elyse Webb

Saturday's avalanche on U.S. 40 at Berthoud Pass was the first at that location in nearly twenty years, and although it was a significant snow slide it could have been a lot worse.

It's unpredictable, sudden, and potentially dangerous. Yet often times avalanches are somewhat controllable. Avalanche experts spend thousands of hours and dollars to survey, forecast, and blast those areas at highest risk of an avalanche. Still there's a long list of elements that need to be considered.
Ed Fink, with the Colorado Department of Transportation says, "With barometric pressure, relative humidity, amount of snow, weight of snow, how the snow is layered, how the layers bonded together.."

Even with all of this studying, some avalanches still come out of nowhere. As this weekends avalanche is proof that nothing can stop mother nature. Even after crews did preventative blasting on the mountain near Berthoud Pass earlier in the week, the elements still took over.

Fink says, "Usually it doesn't happen within a few hours especially in areas that have been tested but that seems to be what happened."

So while perfection isn't possible, crews will continue to try and prevent or at least lessen the impact and size of these dangerous but natural phenomenon.


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