Avalanche control at Three Valley Gap. (Photo by Ministry of Transportation)

Avalanche control at Three Valley Gap. (Photo by Ministry of Transportation)

Loud explosions near Revelstoke just avalanche control: province

Highway 1 near Three Valley Gap closed far less this year for avalanche control

Revelstoke residents awoke to loud explosions in the early hours of April 6.

Some people posted on Facebook that it sounded like bears were trying to break down the front door or the dam was crumbling.

However, the province confirmed the kerfuffle was the ministry of transportation detonating remaining charges in the Remote Avalanche Control System at Three Valley Gap between 3 a.m. to 5 a.m.

The highway was closed during that time.

The province said the sound of the explosions may have travelled farther than normal because there is less of a sound-dampening effect when snowcover is low.

While snow levels in the alpine are high, as of March 20, only 170 cm of snow fell in the City of Revelstoke this winter, which is the fourth lowest on record in the last 115 years.

READ MORE: It’s spring and Revelstoke has 90% less snow than last year

The province said highway avalanche closures at Three Valley Gap were far below average this winter, with only eight closures totalling less than 10 hours.

By comparison, the highway closed 23 times last winter for 55 hours. The 34 year average is 33 hours of closure.

According to the ministry in previous news articles, Highway 1 closures can cost $500,000 per hour.

In 2016, the B.C. Ministry of Transport spent $6 million constructing four permanent towers at known avalanche paths in the Three Valley Gap for avalanche control.

The system triggers slides remotely, meaning avalanche control can be done overnight, which disrupts traffic flows less. In the past, avalanche control was more dependent on daylight and good weather. It was more common for avalanche technicians to drop bombs on slopes via helicopters.

READ MORE: Highway 1 avalanche closure times decreasing around Revelstoke

The province said the installation of the Remote Avalanche Control System at Three Valley Gap has significantly reduced closures by about an hour per mission.

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