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Colorado Avalanche

breaking news on CNN and Fox is a massive avalanche has buried cars along hwy 40 west of Denver near some popular ski resorts including Winter Park. Not know how many people are missing yet. 6 have been rescued so far.

http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/01/06/colorado.avalanche.ap/index.html

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,242221,00.html

They say this is one of the biggest avalanches they have seen. the highway is under 15 ft of snow.

With the 3 major winter storms in Colorado in the past month we knew it was only time before something like this happened.

Do you guys in Colorado (tony, Roger, etc) know how much snow they have received west of you??
 
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Reports now are that only two cars were buried. Not sure how much snow they have received around Berthoud Pass. It doesn't really matter though since the snow can drift very deeply with a little wind.
 
The 2 cars reported are the only ones found so far. There are also reports that other cars were swept over the side. Rescuers are using probing poles to search for more vehicles.
 
Dangerous situation obviously, any travelers traveling in and through Colorado with the tremendous snow amounts need to pay particularly close attention to the risk of dangerous avalanches. More are likely to occur, and we don't want to see fatalities by any means.

Latest on this is 7 rescued so far and I believe they sent one to the hospital. I hope that the good news of lack of serious injuries continues. Stay safe and alert!
 
A little blurb from CNN shows this avalanche was not just snow:

courtesy CNN

Colorado Department of Transportation officials said the avalanche was about 100 feet wide and 15 feet deep and carried not only snow and ice but also large rocks, trees and other debris.
 
Dangerous situation obviously, any travelers traveling in and through Colorado with the tremendous snow amounts need to pay particularly close attention to the risk of dangerous avalanches. More are likely to occur, and we don't want to see fatalities by any means.

Latest on this is 7 rescued so far and I believe they sent one to the hospital. I hope that the good news of lack of serious injuries continues. Stay safe and alert!

Actually I'd say the situation is fairly benign for those travelling on the highway. Whenever an avalanche warning is issued it doesn't apply to the highways as most avalanche paths above roads are controlled. This is clearly a freak accident. Its pretty much unheard of for civilians to be killed in their cars in avalanches in the United States.

From the photos I have seen so far they might want to drop the term "massive." CNN is showing a road covered with deep snow, but only across a few hundred feet.
 
UPDATE

Seven People are now confirmed hospitalized.

I've seen 7 rescued, only 1 of those hospitalized.

One of the people in the buried cars said they didn't believe there were any other cars at the site of the slide. They are still "probing" for other cars just in case, but it looks to be just 2 right now.

It's hard to talk about luck in a situation like this, but it's fortunate the avalanche didn't hit a couple hours earlier when there is normally a constant stream of cars headed to winter park.
 
CNN reclarified the information after I posted. Thank you for the updates and information.

Actually I think I just saw what you did. The AP report has them all taken to the hospital but the local stations are saying all but 1 walked away. They'll probably have the latest information on the local news at 5, I'll see what they say then.
 
A big factor that might have triggered this avalanche could be the high winds in our area today and tonight. We tried to go snowboarding at Eldora this morning but turned back when the winds would have just made for a terrible day. The CO front range is under a High Wind Watch tonight with winds in excess of 70mph expected.

We are really having a rough time in the mountains west of Denver this winter. It's not bad enough that we have had three major snowstorms in as many weeks but now even worse is the wind that causes constant drifting.
 
A big factor that might have triggered this avalanche could be the high winds in our area today and tonight. We tried to go snowboarding at Eldora this morning but turned back when the winds would have just made for a terrible day. The CO front range is under a High Wind Watch tonight with winds in excess of 70mph expected.

We are really having a rough time in the mountains west of Denver this winter. It's not bad enough that we have had three major snowstorms in as many weeks but now even worse is the wind that causes constant drifting.

That's a huge factor. The road over Berthoud Pass is well controlled for avalanches, but strong winds can easily load a slope in very little time.
 
If you are confused as to what the avalanche may have looked like at Berthoud Pass here is some amazing video:

http://www.glumbert.com/media/ophirica

I'd say the avalanches in this video are substantially larger than the one that hit Berthoud, but it gives you a good reference point. This video was shot in the small town of Ophir, CO.
 
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