Avalanche blasting planned for this morning

Thane Road will again be closed from 9 a.m. to noon for avalanche blasting, and this time it’s the real deal.

A week after the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities trained with a howitzer to blast snow away from Mount Roberts, it’ll do the job on Wednesday morning.

Department crews will take advantage of a “weather window” Wednesday morning to blast snow into the avalanche chute above Thane Road, said Jeremy Woodrow, a spokesman for the department.

“Enough snow came down over the weekend at higher elevations to warrant some snow removal work,” he said. “They do expect some snow will come down, but it’s not clear whether any will reach the road.”

The National Weather Service is expecting snow to fall starting Wednesday night and intermittently through the weekend, with larger amounts at higher elevations.

Woodrow said DOT prefers to bring down a series of smaller avalanches rather than allow a larger avalanche to reach the road and possibly cause damage.

Avalanche blasting involves firing howitzer shells from the Treadwell Mine ruins across Gastineau Channel and Thane Road into the avalanche chute of Mount Roberts.

The concussion of the bursting shells, designed to trigger avalanches, is frequently audible throughout downtown Juneau.

Avalanche blasting is common in the Thane avalanche chute as well as in other portions of the state.

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