CO 14 reopens after Sunday snow slide leads to avalanche threat

Erik Petrovich

After a snow slide Sunday, Jan. 17, the Colorado Department of Transportation announced that conditions on CO 14 had improved enough to allow driving to resume Jan. 18, connecting Fort Collins to Walden through Cameron Pass. 

CO 14, highlighted in red, was closed for a stretch of more than 30 miles due to avalanche concerns (Image Courtesy Google Maps)
CO 14, highlighted in red, was closed for a stretch of more than 30 miles due to avalanche concerns. (Image Courtesy: Google Maps.)

The highway was closed to the public Sunday, Jan. 17 due to avalanche concerns after snow covered a section of road 40 feet long and three feet deep. The next day, enough repair had been completed to resume transportation through Cameron Pass. There were no fatalities from the avalanche, but crews were not able to complete work on the site until Monday, Jan. 18 due to avalanche conditions.

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According to CDOT spokesman Jared Fiel, the last time CO 14 was closed due to an avalanche threat was more than four years ago.

Avalanches in Colorado are graded on a scale from code D1 to D5 based on destructive damage. A D1 avalanche poses little threat to humans, whereas a D5 avalanche could potentially “gouge the landscape,” according to a document released by the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. The CO 14 snow slide was not deemed to be dangerous enough to receive a grade.

Avalanches in Colorado are not an uncommon occurrence — as of Jan. 26, there have been 216 avalanches in the state, just 38 of which occurred in the Front Range and the Steamboat Springs areas, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. The first fatality from an avalanche in Colorado occurred Jan. 21 when a snowmobile driver at Ruby Peak triggered an avalanche and was caught in the snow at around noon.

Collegian Assistant News Editor Erik Petrovich can be reached at news@collegian.com or via Twitter @EAPetrovich.