KUSA – Colorado typically experiences around 2,500 avalanches a year – and according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, 2019 has already surpassed that.

This isn’t surprising if you consider the 500 avalanches that have been reported in the past nine days. Those slides have led to lengthy closures on Interstate 70, buried cars on Highway 91, and the death of a backcountry skier on Jones Pass.

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The CAIC classifies avalanches by their size. This year, 75 of the reported slides have been strong enough to damage a timber structure. In most years, there are only 16 of this size. 

“The collection of events we’ve seen in the avalanche cycle over the last nine days is truly impressive, and goes beyond the scope of one person’s avalanche safety career,” CAIC Director Ethan Greene said.

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Avalanche mitigation work continued in three different areas along Interstate 70 on Sunday. This included triggering a slide on Vail Pass, albeit without snow reaching the interstate.

I-70 was also closed for a time between Frisco and Vail for mitigation work in Ten Mile Area – an area that hasn’t had active avalanches since the early 1980s, but saw big slides last week.

The Colorado Department of Transportation said 60 to 70 workers are on the job for avalanche mitigation and hiking mountain passes, doing helicopter missions, and clearing the roads from snow and debris.

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