Watch the Colorado Department of Transportation Trigger Multiple Avalanches


Watch the Colorado Department of Transportation Trigger Multiple Avalanches

Controlled Slides

Unlike the natural avalanches that crossed I-70 in Colorado on Sunday, additional avalanches have been intentionally triggered this week by the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT). CDOT routinely monitors and controls 278 of the 522 known avalanche paths in Colorado to protect the highways and drivers. In order to evaluate the snowpack and plan slides, CDOT partners with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC). The experts at the CAIC use a deep understanding of avalanche science to monitor weather and snow conditions.

Earlier this year CDOT installed new Obell’X avalanche mitigation pods near Berthoud Pass. These pods have been called “spaceship landing capsules” due to their futuristic shape. The pods use a hydrogen and oxygen explosion to remotely and safely trigger avalanches from a distance. Each pod costs $120,000 and the price is more than justified by the enhanced level of public safety they provide.

Obell’X Pods being prepared for installation

The Obell’X pods are being used to control avalanches alongside the former Gazex technology. Gazex works in a similar fashion, using propane and oxygen to trigger avalanches with explosive force.

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Gazex avalanche control

These new avalanche mitigation tools have been a big success but with only a handful of Obell’X and Gasex units installed across the state, CDOT releys on traditional techniques including artillery pieces and pneumatic cannons called avalaunchers.

Take a look at three amazing videos of avalanches that CDOT has triggered the past two days on Berthoud Pass, Herman Gulch, and Ten Mile Canyon. 

Berthoud Pass

Herman Gulch

Ten Mile Canyon