2 avalanches expected to keep I-70 closed for hours between Copper Mountain and Vail ~ 3/7/19

I-70 between Copper Mountain and Vail Pass is closed following an avalanche that covered the highway and ruptured a natural gas line.


Colorado State Patrol was first notified of the slide at mile marker 186 around 1:20 a.m. Thursday.  According to a tweet from CSP, a tow truck was caught in the avalanche. No injuries have been reported.

The alternate route around the I-70 closure is Highway 91, it was closed between Leadville and Copper Mountain most of the morning due to a large natural gas leak that was caused by a second avalanche. Just after 10 a.m. CDOT said it was back open.

The second slide occurred around 5 a.m. near the Conoco in Copper Mountain, according to a Facebook post from Summit Fire and EMS.

It ruptured a natural gas pipeline between the Conoco Station in Copper Mountain and the water treatment plant according to Summit Fire. Around 7:30 a.m., the agency said Xcel was working on the issue and expected to have the leak resolved soon. No evacuations are in place, according to Summit Fire.

In a Tweet, Copper Mountain said the rest of the resort was not affected and said they would open but could not yet say when they would open for the day.  They said team members were working on avalanche mitigation and were working to get the American Eagle lift open but could not give an update on when they would open.

RELATED: A-Basin closed Thursday due to extreme avalanche danger

In a Facebook post Thursday morning, the Colorado Avalanche Information Center said four backcountry zones have gone to extreme (5 of 5) Avalanche Danger since the ten-zone forecast format began.

Historic avalanches are running, the CAIC said. It urged people not to travel in or near avalanche terrain.

Avalanche Warnings are in place for the Front Range, Steamboat and Flat Tops, Vail and Summit County, Sawatch, Aspen, Gunnison, Grand Mesa, and San Juan Mountains.

On Sunday there were two avalanches along I-70 in the Officer’s Gulch area, which is about 10 miles east of where the slide happened Thursday morning. The second slide on Sunday covered the lanes of the highway and swept vehicles out of the eastbound lanes and into the median.

RELATED: ‘Just hold onto something’: Family describes surviving avalanche that swept them off I-70

On Tuesday, CDOT stopped traffic on I-70 to do allow for avalanche mitigation and a slide that the agency triggered came down and covered that highway with several feet of snow. A large section of the highway was closed in both directions for about 9 hours. US 40 was also closed on Tuesday for avalanche mitigation work.

RELATED: I-70 reopens between Georgetown and Vail Pass after 9 hours of avalanche work




Avalanche slams into vehicles on I-70 in Colorado ~ 3/3/19

Video from a dash camera shows an avalanche slamming into a vehicle on I-70 around 5 p.m. on Sunday. The driver says they were pushed off the roadway and into the median.
Published: 5:55 AM MST March 4, 2019
Updated: 9:32 AM MST March 4, 2019

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