Rockfall season brings another gravitational hazard to Garfield County roadways
As avalanches remain a threat in the high country, drivers passing through the lower elevations of Garfield County and the Roaring Fork Valley need be aware of another seasonal danger gravity brings.
“We are starting to get into that rockfall mudslide season as we get to the spring,” Colorado State Patrol Troop 4C Capt. Richard Duran said. “Understand that we are coming upon that time of year to expect rocks and debris on the roads in certain areas.”
Any Garfield County road that skirts a cliff or steep hill is vulnerable to rockslides, and drivers heading along Interstate 70 in South Canyon and Glenwood Canyon should be extra cautious, he said.
Parts of state Highway 82 between Glenwood Springs and Carbondale are also particularly vulnerable to rockfall during the freeze-thaw cycle, as well as debris flows during heavy rains. One close call was reported Wednesday afternoon when a tumbling rock hit a vehicle just east of the Highway 82/133 intersection near Carbondale. There were no injuries reported in that incident.
Rock and mud slides can occur at any time in the year, Duran said. But, during the spring months, when the ground begins to thaw, is when Garfield County and surrounding areas are most prone to both.
“As the weather heats up and the side of the mountain starts to thaw, that’s when we see more rocks coming down from the hillside,” Duran added.
Drivers should be aware of possible rock fall when driving down Highway 82 and I-70, and need to take extra precaution at night.
Duran advised motorists to slow down in those areas and be watchful near slopes, especially when it starts to rain.
“If you see something, don’t swerve so hard to lose control of your vehicle,” Duran advised.
“We understand that swerving out of the way is a natural instinct, but when you swerve too hard it can cause your vehicle to fishtail and it can be hard to regain control to avoid rolling,” he said.
If you do hit a rock, Duran said it is best to drive off the roadway as far as you are able. He said to put your hazards on and call for help.
Anyone who sees rocks in the roadway should immediately call the Garfield County Communications Center so that a dispatcher can relay the message to have them moved, Duran said.
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