A police officer is seriously injured after a landslide at Cypress Mountain

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Police say an officer was seriously injured when a rockslide struck his car at the base of Cypress Mountain on Friday evening.

The officer was on a routine patrol around 5:30 p.m. on the 3700 block of Cypress Bowl Rd., when a rockslide ripped through the roadway, striking his vehicle and a civilian car.

The officer was taken to hospital and is expected to make a full recovery, said Sgt. Mark McLean with West Vancouver Police.

“He suffered a very large head laceration and is now recovering from home,” McLean told CBC News in an interview.

McLean said the occupants of the civilian vehicle were uninjured and did not require medical attention.

Cypress Bowl Road remained closed for several hours as the debris was cleared before reopening in both directions just before midnight, according to a Tweet from DriveBC.

Police said there were no longer any threats to drivers in the area.

“Freeze and thaw cycle” behind falling rocks

According to geologist Brent Ward, landslides are more common in fall and spring, when temperatures drop below freezing at night but rise during the day.

Ward, co-director of the Center for Natural Hazards Research at Simon Fraser University, explains that when the snow melts during the day, water seeps through cracks in the rocks.

When temperatures drop at night, this water freezes and expands, which can cause rocks to fracture and trigger a landslide.

“It’s this cycle of freezing and thawing that really triggers a lot of rockfall.”

Drivers shouldn’t stop next to fallen rocks on the road if they encounter it, Ward says, as it could indicate more rocks falling.

“There’s a lot of work being done across the province to keep people safe, but we have so many freeway miles,” he said.

“It’s really difficult to keep all the rocks out of the way, so people have to be careful while driving.”

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