avalanche clearing
Provo Canyon in Utah was hit by an avalanche that blocked more than 40 yards of Highway 189 on Thursday. This is a representational image of volunteers clearing a road with a snow plow after an avalanche hit Ticino, Switzerland, Jan. 22, 2017. FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images

Utah was hit by an avalanche that blocked Highway 189 in Provo Canyon on Thursday. The closures will be between Canyon Glen Part and Vivian Park including the Bridal Veil Falls area and Nunn’s Park. The avalanche blanketed more than 40 yards of roadway.

It was initially estimated that the snow was 10 to 15 feet deep but Utah Highway Patrol later confirmed that the snow is up to 30 feet deep in some areas. They also said no persons or vehicles were caught in the avalanche but it will take hours to clean up the highway as the snow covered all the lanes. The damage to the roads and guardrails was not determined.

“They were doing a controlled avalanche explosion. They closed the road below, so troopers were set up a good ways back to keep people off the road,” Sgt. Nick Street with the highway patrol said.

Officials with the Utah Avalanche Center attempted to trigger a controlled avalanche near Bridal Veil Falls considering the wet conditions prevailing there.

The roads are being cleared but troopers have asked motorists to find alternate routes such as Highway 40 due to the closure. With the snow constantly falling, the Utah Department of Transportation has to use chains on all vehicles traveling through the canyon until 6 p.m. local time (8:30 p.m. EST).

Troopers also received reports of a rock slide on State Route 92 at the Mile Marker 26. A number of 100-pound boulders were reported to be blocking the road.

Another avalanche hit Taos Ski Valley in New Mexico at around 11:30 a.m. local time (1:30 p.m. EST) Thursday, killing one skier.

Two skiers sustained injuries after getting trapped under the snow and were pulled out after a 20-minute rescue effort. After administering CPR, they were taken to the ski resort’s Mogul Medical Clinic after which one of them was airlifted and taken to University of New Mexico Hospital, where he later died. The other man was taken to Holy Cross Medical Center in Taos, the local newspaper Taos News, reported.

Initially, authorities believed there might be more people trapped under the snow and after a precautionary search that lasted till late afternoon; authorities confirmed that no-one else was trapped.

The avalanche happened near the highest peak of Taos Ski Valley on a stretch of the mountain known as the K3 chute, where expert skiers can ride a lift to Kachina Peak and dart down a partially rock-lined run. What triggered the avalanche is still unknown, but the resort authorities have confirmed that an investigation was planned. The spot is prone to winds that can blow up the mountain and create a cornice allowing avalanches to occur even without a significant amount of recent snowfall.

In a statement, a spokesman for Taos Ski Valley, Chris Stagg, said, “The accident happened despite the precautions that the resort took. Ski patrollers were sent to evaluate the conditions and denote explosives— a measure taken to trigger any potential slides before the skiers take to the slopes. The resort also made sure that the opening to the lift was delayed at the start of the day.”

On Wednesday, Taos Ski Valley tweeted that the Kachina Peak lift will be closed due to low visibility.

A series of snowstorms moved across the Southwestern parts of U.S. since the start of this year and another was expected to soon hit parts of that region after heavy rain and snow in California.