Colorado Department of Transportation
WINTER TRAVEL ALERT — Statewide storm to cause difficult driving conditions
Colorado Department of Transportation crews will be out in force for a multiple wave storm that will affect much of the state this week. The first wave will reach the mountains with heaviest accumulations in the southern mountains beginning Monday through Tuesday afternoon, with impacts through Thursday. Strong winds east of the Continental Divide to the Kansas border are expected most of Tuesday, with the winter storm expected to arrive along the Front Range Tuesday night and lasting through Wednesday. Hardest hit areas are anticipated to be in southern Colorado from the Palmer Divide to the southern border and the southwestern mountain passes.
Various parts of the state will get hit with snow at different times, which means motorists could encounter rapidly changing weather and road conditions, including blowing snow and poor visibility caused by high winds.
CDOT crews will be out 24/7 clearing roads beginning with interstates and the most heavily traveled routes first during the storm. Once the storm has tapered off, they will plow the state maintained secondary routes. Cities and counties are responsible for clearing local and residential roads – not CDOT.
Drivers are urged to “know before you go”, check road conditions on COtrip.org, and stay on top of the latest forecast information as the winter weather evolves.
Southwest and South-Central Colorado
Heavy snow accumulations and strong winds are expected for southwest and south-central Colorado through early Thursday morning. Major winter driving impacts have already begun in the San Juan Mountains along the U.S. 550 mountain corridor, U.S. 160 Wolf Creek Pass, CO 145 Lizard Head Pass, U.S. 50 Monarch Pass and CO 17 Cumbres and La Manga Passes. Treacherous driving conditions with blowing snow and below freezing temperatures will continue through Thursday. Travel is expected to be difficult with low visibility and potential safety closures. Heavy and blowing snow will create icy, slick and snow-packed road conditions.
U.S. 160 Wolf Creek Pass will close Wednesday morning at 5:30 a.m. so that crews can perform winter maintenance operations. Westbound traffic will be stopped just west of the ski area at the pass summit (MP 167) and eastbound traffic will be stopped near Treasure Falls (MP 157). Do not attempt to bypass the closed gates. Maintenance operations will last for much of the morning, the exact time of reopening the highway is not known.
Travelers should be aware that additional winter maintenance operations and safety closures may be needed along mountain corridors over the coming week.
Denver Region and the I-70 Mountain Corridor east of the Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnel (EJMT)
Snow is expected to impact the metro area beginning Tuesday evening and continue through Wednesday afternoon with lighter snow north of Denver and heavier accumulations in the metro area and to the south. High winds are possible for the eastern plains, which could pose a closure risk on I-70 at Airpark east of Denver. The hardest hit area will be along the I-25 corridor south of Denver from the Palmer Divide to the southern border. Motorists should expect hazardous driving conditions in the metro area Tuesday night and the Wednesday morning commute. While CDOT crews will be out in force plowing the roads, pavement will be slick. Motorists must take it slow, leave plenty of following distance and stay safely behind plows. Do not pass them.
Snow is expected tonight along the I-70 Mountain Corridor from Golden to the EJMT. Snow will ramp up tomorrow with windy conditions continuing through late Wednesday. Sub-zero temperatures of -13 possible Wednesday night. Motorists must have appropriate tires for mountain driving and an emergency kit should there be emergency road closures.
I-70 Mountain Corridor and Northwest Colorado
Motorists should anticipate winter weather conditions along the I-70 Mountain Corridor and other roadways in northwestern Colorado. Intense snowfall is anticipated to be as heavy as one inch per hour at locations along the I-70 corridor, including the EJMT and Vail Pass.
Winter weather conditions are anticipated to be heaviest on Wednesday and Thursday. Motorists will encounter increased enforcement of lowered speeds on the corridor, including in Glenwood Canyon. Other roadways with winter weather conditions are anticipated to be U.S. 40 Berthoud Pass, CO 82 near Aspen and CO 65 Grand Mesa.
Snow is anticipated Tuesday afternoon and through the day Wednesday. Flash freezing is possible along the I-25 corridor south from Monument Hill. Travelers can expect heavy snow at the higher elevations, with blowing and drifting snow on the southeastern plains, with winds up to 50 mph forecast, and potential highway closures, if necessary, due to reduced visibility.
High winds are expected Tuesday with some snow coming early Wednesday.
Snow accumulations along the North I-25 corridor are expected to be a few inches with more expected toward the foothills.
What motorists should know
Avoid or limit driving during the brunt of the storm. Many areas of the state will experience pavement impacts and blowing snow due to strong winds.
Work from home if you can.
If you plan to travel, know before you go by checking out the latest weather conditions and visiting COtrip.org for road conditions (see info sources below).
Make sure your vehicle is winter ready with the appropriate tires for the weather and have a snow emergency kit.
Once you are out on the road, take it slow, no sudden stops and leave plenty of following distance.
Give plows space! Stay back three to four car lengths from snow plows.
A safety closure is a precaution taken during inclement weather to reduce the probability of traffic incidents, increased congestion or other safety-related factors. During a safety closure, traffic may be stopped on the interstate, turned around or directed to an exit. Safety closures help decrease delay times, and, above all, keep travelers safe.
Chain and Traction Laws
When weather conditions warrant, CDOT will activate the Traction Law. If weather conditions deteriorate, CDOT will activate Chain Laws for passenger and commercial vehicles. Motorists will be alerted to an active Traction or Chain Law by highway signage, COtrip.org and traffic/roadway condition alerts. For more information on the Traction Law and Passenger Vehicle Chain Law requirements, visit codot.gov/travel/winter-driving/tractionlaw. For more information on the Commercial Vehicle Chain Law requirements, visit codot.gov/travel/colorado-chain-law. To learn more and view helpful tips for winter driving, visit winter.codot.gov.
COtrip.org and COtrip Planner app
If motorists must head out during this winter storm, they are urged to visit COtrip.org and download the COtrip Planner app ahead of time. Motorists are now able to sign up for travel alerts through COtrip.org to see if there are any highway closures or impacts along their favorite routes. The COtrip Planner app also offers a “Trip Planner” feature that allows motorists to map out their routes and receive updates about road closures or incidents along the way. Motorists can turn on the “Hands-Free, Eyes Free” feature to receive these alerts via voice notifications and avoid routes with impacts.
Know Before You Go
Travelers are urged to “know before you go.” Gather information about weather forecasts and anticipated travel impacts and current road conditions prior to hitting the road. CDOT resources include:
Road conditions and travel information website: www.COtrip.org
Free mobile app: COtrip Planner
Chain and traction law information: www.codot.gov/admin/travel/winter-driving/tractionlaw
Sign up for project or travel alerts: bit.ly/COalerts
See scheduled lane closures: codot.gov/travel/scheduled-lane-closures.html
Connect with us on social media: Twitter @coloradodot and Facebook facebook.com/coloradodot
Check avalanche conditions at CAIC: www.avalanche.state.co.us