Avalanche blocks key route to Vail ski area in Colorado

Semi-trucks, top, turn across Interstate 70 to head back towards Denver as I-70 westbound was closed from Georgetown, Colo., to Silverthorne due to avalanche reduction work Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017. All cars and trucks had to turn around. Portions of I-70 as well mountain passes on other highways are being periodically closed so crews can trigger avalanches to prevent surprise slides, leaving drivers to wait it out. (Andy Cross/The Denver Post via AP)

Semi-trucks, top, turn across Interstate 70 to head back towards Denver as I-70 westbound was closed from Georgetown, Colo., to Silverthorne due to avalanche reduction work Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017. All cars and trucks had to turn around. Portions of I-70 as well mountain passes on other highways are being periodically closed so crews can trigger avalanches to prevent surprise slides, leaving drivers to wait it out. (Andy Cross/The Denver Post via AP)

An avalanche swept across a Colorado highway that is a key route to the popular Vail ski resort, blocking access for some skiers heading to the mountain and trapping three commercial trucks, authorities said Tuesday.

No one was injured when the avalanche dumped up to 15 feet of snow onto Interstate 70 at Vail Pass overnight, said Mike Lewis, deputy director of the Colorado Department of Transportation. It also swept down a tangle of trees and rocks in its path, but the highway has since reopened.

In this photo provided by the Colorado State Patrol, removal equipment works to clear snow from Interstate 70 on Vail Pass as a winter storm packing high winds and heavy snow pummels the high mountains of Colorado early on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017. An avalanche dumped up to 15 feet of snow on the interstate over the pass, which is just one of numerous stretches of roadway periodically being closed in the region. (Colorado State Patrol via AP)

In this photo provided by the Colorado State Patrol, removal equipment works to clear snow from Interstate 70 on Vail Pass as a winter storm packing high winds and heavy snow pummels the high mountains of Colorado early on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017. An avalanche dumped up to 15 feet of snow on the interstate over the pass, which is just one of numerous stretches of roadway periodically being closed in the region. (Colorado State Patrol via AP)

Storms have dropped a deep layer of snow across the U.S. West over the past several days, sending excited skiers and snowboarders into the mountains but proving damaging and even deadly.

A backcountry skier found last week in the central Colorado mountains died while he was being treated for hypothermia, and another skier was rescued as he dangled from a chairlift, where his backpack got caught.

On Tuesday, other portions of I-70 and mountain passes periodically shut down so crews could trigger avalanches to prevent surprise slides.

Truck driver Dave Christian, left, gets help from fellow driver Tom Hoage, right, to put on chains as they and other big rigs and cars wait and hope for Monarch Pass to reopen on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017, near Poncha Springs, Colo. Portions of Interstate 70 as well mountain passes on other highways are being periodically closed so crews can trigger avalanches to prevent surprise slides, leaving drivers to wait it out. (Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post via AP)

Truck driver Dave Christian, left, gets help from fellow driver Tom Hoage, right, to put on chains as they and other big rigs and cars wait and hope for Monarch Pass to reopen on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017, near Poncha Springs, Colo. Portions of Interstate 70 as well mountain passes on other highways are being periodically closed so crews can trigger avalanches to prevent surprise slides, leaving drivers to wait it out. (Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post via AP)

Monarch Mountain ski area closed because of avalanche control work on Monarch Pass, and Arapahoe Basin Ski area closed early because of the avalanche danger on Loveland Pass.

Heavy snow has been falling in the mountains over the past 24 hours, and some passes have received the equivalent of 5 to 10 inches of water in the last 10 days, said Ethan Greene, director of the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.

“That’s just a huge amount of weight that is going onto our snowpack,” he said.

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