By on February 7, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-02-07 at 12.14.52 PM

No, the State of Colorado isn’t blowing up grandmas for doing 10 mph under the limit in the left lane. But the state’s Department of Transportation is keeping people safe by clearing avalanches with World War II artillery.

Armed with a 105 mm howitzer — possibly an M101A1, though please feel free to correct us — the Colorado DOT clears avalanche prone areas by shooting shells up to 7 miles away into the mountain tops. Those shells have a secondary charge that explodes on impact to trigger a controlled avalanche.

According to KOB4, the howitzer, which the state leases from the U.S. Army, was recently used to clear the Red Mountain Pass in Colorado’s high country. The guns were set up on concrete pads along the pass and aimed at strategic targets in the war against insurgent snow.

Let’s hope the state doesn’t set these up at DMV offices in the off season.

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15 Comments on “VIDEO: Colorado Makes Driving Safer with 105 Millimeter Howitzer...”

  • avatar

    Wouldn’t it be easier to use predator drone rockets?

    Either way, this is the most epic Winter Story of 2016.

    • 0 avatar

      Easier maybe, but no way would that be cheaper.

      A drone big enough to carry a missile takes a lot of fuel to fly, plus you need to use an operations crew authorized to pilot such a craft. The missile isn’t free either.

      By contrast a howitzer you can tow around with an extra truck you have lying around, operate with either a crew from the Army or some retired guys, and the shells cost almost nothing.

      Fun story though.

    • 0 avatar

      They don’t actually launch rounds into the mountain.

      Growing up on the West Coast and skiing thought the area, this is a pretty normal process.

    • 0 avatar

      “Your mistletoe is no match for my T.O.W. missile!”

      – Robot Santa (Futurama)

  • avatar

    They do (or did) the same in Washington state also.

  • avatar
    Dave W

    Ski areas have been doing this since the return of the 10th mountain division at the end of WW2.

    However since you can usually get closer to slide paths at ski areas then from a highway a fair number of resorts are now using pneumatic or LP cannons, or skiing the ridge lines with essentially grenades or satchel charges.

  • avatar

    The Canadian military has been doing this type of avalanche control in Rogers Pass, British Columbia since it opened in 1962. The route mainly follows the old Canadian Pacific Railway grade through the pass. The railway built 2 tunnels under the pass, one in the early 1900’s and the other in the mid-1980’s.

  • avatar

    As others have pointed out, this isn’t a new approach to avalanche control. It is safer than manually deploying charges.

  • avatar

    I wanna pull the cord!

  • avatar

    So, IOW, don’t backcountry ski within 7 miles of the road in Colorado?

    Man, you finally got all your avalanche safety airbags, beacons and avalungs figured out, feeling relatively safe venturing out. Only to have some dude shoot you with a howitzer!

  • avatar

    The Washington State DOT has a two M60 tanks and a howitzer they use for avalanche control. One is stationed on Stevens pass and one on Snoqualmie pass. The one at Stevens is parked at the Wellington Trailhead. It is always amusing to take people for a hike an pull into a parking lot in the middle of the forest with a tank parked in the middle.

  • avatar

    Pfft… I could make driving much safer for *me* with just a roof-mounted minigun.

  • avatar

    More effective than yodeling in the Alps.

  • avatar

    Looks like a M101A1 to me although I was never an Artillery guy.

    I think the military still uses these for ceremony and I think it started as a 105mm in WWII. It would make sense for these purposes.

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