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Rock Slides Will Remain Common Because Of The Significant Snowpack

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SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – The slopes in Colorado are becoming very active and one U.S. Forest Service official said it’s erosion in action.

With the state still holding on to a significant snowpack, scenes like rock slides are going to remain common. It was something that Colorado Department of Transportation crews thought was coming.

“Just with the amount of moisture we have in this area. The crews just patrolling the road had seen some rocks coming down earlier,” Tracy Trulove with CDOT said.

But the acts of nature are far from predictable.

“Slides are not uncommon in this area; it’s the volume and the size of this slide,” Jonathan White with the Colorado Geological Survey said aboiut a massive slide in Mesa County.

An image of the mudslide (credit: CBS)

An image of the mudslide (credit: CBS)

A state geologist said the rainfall and snow runoff propelled the ¾-mile wide, 3-mile long slide on Sunday in Mesa County on the Grand Mesa where three men went missing. There was likely a tension crack in the earth that water was able to then seep into.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

“The rock completely rubble-ized and it basically acted like a fluid and you had that flow down the slope and that flow was very rapid,” White said.

On a much smaller scale, essentially the same thing happened on the slopes of Loveland Pass on Tuesday.

In image of the slide on Loveland Pass (credit: Alan Henceroth)

In image of the slide on Loveland Pass (credit: Alan Henceroth)

“The top layer has gone down to bedrock, so they feel pretty confident that it’s stable or will be stable, and that’s why our crews were able to get in here and start clearing the slide,” Trulove said. “This is what the geologist would suggest is the start of the season.”

Since slides are so unpredictable, CDOT says that if someone sees rocks on the road to let them know the exact location — and where there’s one rock there could be many more.

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