Winter Storm on the Way

December 7, 2012 - Northwestern Colorado/CDOT Region 3 - Not a large storm but “Better than nothing,” and time for motorists to get prepared.

ROAD CONDITION/CLOSURE INFORMATION: To find the conditions and closures, log onto our traveler information site at or call 511 from anywhere in the state. Better yet, sign up to receive wireless text alerts and/or e-mails about road conditions on our web site (see the green phone icon in the upper right corner).

WESTERN COLORADO – “Better than nothing.” That was a comment this morning on a report from Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) forecaster Mark Gober in Silverton.

“Only a dusting of snow fell in the last 24 hours, and the (avalanche slide) paths have little snow cover at this time,” Gober writes. His forecasting includes the US 550 corridor and its three mountain passes: Coal Bank, Molas and Red Mountain.

Gober’s CAIC counterpart for Lizard Head Pass on SH 145 had this to report, “The weather description for the upcoming weekend will include some words we've rarely seen this season thus far: wintery, cold and snowy,” Ann Mellick wrote. “Temperatures will drop into the teens tonight and westerly winds will increase as the jet stream sags south towards Colorado.”

Mellick’s report notes that Coloradans traveling in the San Juan Mountains can expect two to five inches of snow by Saturday night. Snowfall will begin early afternoon in the Steamboat area and spread south as the day progresses, reaching the San Juan Mountains Saturday night. The heaviest snowfall will occur Saturday night and into Sunday morning, favoring the Central and Northern Mountains. Temperatures will drop towards zero overnight, and Sunday morning could see some negative temperatures, according to the CAIC report.

“Well, we finally have more than just blue sky out there,” Gober states. “Not much snow but it’s a start.”

A bit further north, Colorado Department of Transportation crews out of the Grand Junction maintenance section are prepared for up to six inches of snow on SH 65 over Grand Mesa, and a 30 percent chance of precipitation in the valley.

“This won’t be a huge snow event, and with the roadway relatively warm, the conditions will be easily handled,” said CDOT Region 3 Deputy Maintenance Superintendent TJ Blake. “But this is also a good reminder for motorists to prepare their vehicles for winter weather, if they have not already done so.”

CDOT is offers these tips to motorists and, since forecasts can change, is also reminding motorists to always check road and weather conditions before heading to the high country.


  1. Plan your trip! Log on to CDOT’s Winter Driving web page at: for tips, road conditions, information on CDOT’s 14-hour snow plow coverage and more; or call 511 for statewide road conditions. Also, sign up for FREE wireless text and/or e-mail updates on road conditions/closures—see the green phone icon in the upper right-hand corner of our web site home page.
  2. Always keep the top half of your gas tank full. It can give you better traction and gives you a bigger margin of error if you get stuck and have to keep the engine running periodically to keep warm.
  3. If you are stuck in a serious storm do not leave your car. Run the engine periodically and wait for help.
  4. Carry blankets, water, a flashlight, a shovel, some nutrition bars or other food for sustenance. Winterize your vehicle's safety kit by including extra blankets, sand to help gain traction in the event you become stuck on ice or snow, jumper cables, an ice scraper and lock de-icer.
  5. Remember that 4-wheel drive does not mean 4-wheel stop. A 4-wheel drive vehicle will not stop any better in icy conditions, especially if you have inadequate snow tires.
  6. Be sure of your route. Don't go exploring in the back-country without some local knowledge, especially during a storm or when one is bearing down anywhere near your location.
  7. Be sure you have good tires. The Colorado State Patrol recommends at least 1/8 of an inch tread depth. All season radials on a front-wheel-drive passenger vehicle are adequate for most situations; install them on all four tires. Four snow tires on most rear-wheel drive vehicles are usually adequate. Chain restrictions in Colorado are most often put into effect for commercial vehicles (semi-trailer trucks) and do not usually affect passenger vehicles (please see information on Colorado’s chain law at
  8. In poor visibility or even whiteout conditions, don't drive faster than you can see ahead. High speeds in poor or no visibility can lead to large chain reaction accidents. Remember you can't see around mountain curves and corners, either.
  9. Respect winter weather, conduct a pre-trip inspection of your vehicle, leave extra space between your automobile and others on the road, and never drink and drive.
  10. Always buckle up!