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Helicopters Toss Turkey-Sized Explosives To Combat Avalanches

By Matt Kroschel

LOVELAND PASS, Colo. (CBS4)- Despite a lack of deep snow so far this season, what has fallen is causing concern for avalanches on Colorado mountain passes.

Colorado Department of Transportation crews used a helicopter to blast away built up snow on known avalanche slide zones on Loveland Pass and above Interstate 70 on Mount Bethel.

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"The way the weather has been going the snow right now is starting to become heavy with precipitation and we do expect another snowstorm in the future," CDOT spokeswoman Stacia Sellers told CBS4. "We want to make sure we are getting the base layer mitigated before any more snow fall comes in and creates another perfect scenario for an avalanche."

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The work is risky. Crews loaded inside a helicopter to throw explosives out and trigger avalanches.

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"Sometimes our crews are going up there with wind conditions, when it's snowing plus they're opening the door of the helicopter as it in motion, it is risky business," Sellers added.

Last year, snow from an uncontrolled side covered all lanes of the interstate on Jan. 10, forcing a long closure of the highway.

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Crews hope their mitigation Wednesday will help keep that from happening later this winter.

Matt Kroschel covers news throughout Colorado working from the CBS4 Mountain Newsroom. Send story ideas to mrkroschel@cbs.com and connect with him on Twitter @Matt_Kroschel.

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