Watch out for debris on Colorado’s Mountain Passes

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SAN JUAN COUNTY — Heavy snowpack and historic avalanche conditions are making driving conditions along Colorado’s high mountain passes treacherous.

The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) is warning things could get worse in the weeks ahead as all that snow begins to melt.

“It’s definitely been a much higher than average [snow] year,” explained Bob Group, an engineering geologist with CDOT. “It very much feels like winter [still] up there’.

According to Group, once things actually heat up on the mountain passes and remain warm for several days, there’s going to be a lot of snowmelt — which will lead to plenty of debris on the roadways.

“The avalanche debris will definitely be a new one for us,” Group said. “We haven`t really seen this level of avalanche activity in quite some time”.

As part of their normal operating procedures, CDOT has its maintenance crews traveling the highways on a regular basis searching for debris clogging up the roadways.

“Particularly this time of year when the high and low temperatures fluctuate above and below freezing that tends to loosen stuff up,” he said.

In terms of rockfall and other geological hazards, the amount of moisture presently on the passes will increase the level of activity over a normal year.

“Expect more rock on the roadways,” Group warned.

CDOT is urging drivers who use Colorado’s mountain passes to drive extra slow and to be alert.

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