SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)– A narrow break in the weather on Thursday gave Colorado Department of Transportation crews time to launch a helicopter. That helicopter dropped explosives into the snowy cliffs above Interstate 70, causing massive avalanches, just the way they planned.

The interstate was closed for several hours Thursday afternoon as those crews brought targeted 13 separate slide paths. And they called the mission a “big success.”

(credit: CBS)

With the explosions echoing through Ten Mile Canyon, followed by the powder clouds rolling down the canyon walls, CBS4 cameras were the only media outlet inside the closure zone to capture the operation as it happened.

“A lot of what we are getting on the interstate is really just a powder cloud,” Ethan Greene with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center said.

avalanche mitigation summit county i-70

(credit: CBS)

Greene said they wanted to get this important mitigation work done before the extra busy Presidents’ Day weekend and the next big wave of snow that is expected to begin Sunday.

“We recognize times when we can produce avalanches close the roads make sure everyone is out-of-the-way answers when we want them to run and clean things up and get out a safe driving environment for people as they begin moving back to the canyon,” Greene said.

avalanche mitigation summit county i-70

(credit: CBS)

This is the same area where dozens of snowslides were triggered in March 2019 during the historic avalanche cycle in Colorado.

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