News

Gone But Not Forgotten - A Bit of Winter is Back

April 14, 2015 - Statewide Transportation Plan - CDOT reminds those traveling to the high country this week that winter driving conditions may exist - don’t get caught unprepared.

Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) maintenance personnel are scheduled to go on snow shifts tonight, as a spring storm is on the way.

According to the outlook from Colorado Avalanche Information Center forecasters, the temperatures are expected to drop rapidly after midnight tonight as a cold front moves eastward across our mountains. Snowfall into Wednesday morning should be modest, but could intensify and also be accompanied by very strong southwesterly winds.

Weather models are still developing but as of now, much of the snow is expected in the northern Front Range east of the Continental Divide, with some reaching over to Berthoud, Loveland and Vail passes.

Statewide, CDOT maintenance crews and equipment are prepared:  though summer highway activities have been underway in most areas, plows, products and manpower are on the ready.

"Typically these late spring storms are fast-moving and can ice quickly, catching motorists unprepared," CDOT Highway Maintenance Director Kyle Lester said. "We're reminding travelers to check the conditions before heading out, slow down and drive for the conditions."

The following provides brief details of what is expected between now and Friday; but motorists are encouraged to check conditions before heading out via CDOT’s numerous communications tools (see below):

Denver Metro Area:
In the Denver metro area, snow is expected in the early morning hours on Thursday, April 16. CDOT crews begin snow shift at that point, with up to 75 pieces of equipment and personnel working around the clock through the storm event. While little accumulation is expected, there is the chance for icy conditions on roadways that may appear to be just wet. Motorists are encouraged to take it slow and ensure they have plenty of time to get to their destination.

Southeastern Colorado:
There is a possibility of a rain/snow mix. If any snow accumulation occurs, the heaviest amounts are expected along the Palmer Divide, areas west of Colorado Springs and at Raton Pass--crews will be on storm shifts.

Northeastern Colorado:
These areas are expected to get some rain, with the possibility of a dusting of snow in the Fort Collins area. Cameron Pass on SH 14 is expected to see up to 13 inches of snow by Wednesday night, and more likely into Friday.

I-70 Mountain Corridor EAST of Eisenhower Johnson Memorial Tunnel:
Along I-70 West towards the Eisenhower/Johnson Memorial Tunnels, snow showers are expected early tomorrow morning, and will continue on and off for the next several days. CDOT crews will be on snow shift, with between 10-15 pieces of equipment on the roadways in this area as conditions demand. While little accumulation is expected, there is the chance for icy conditions on roadways that may appear to be just wet. Motorists are encouraged to take it slow and ensure they have plenty of time to get to their destination.

Northwest Colorado & I-70 Mountain Corridor WEST of Eisenhower Johnson Memorial Tunnel:
Northwest Colorado is expecting high winds with snow concentrated in the mountains and on the mountain passes beginning tonight and on and off through the rest of the week. For the Grand Mesa we could see up to 4 inches of new snow, followed by 3-5 inches anticipated on Berthoud, Vail and McClure passes. A lot of uncertainty exists with the weather forecast this week so please be alert for changing conditions.

Southwest & South-Central Colorado
and US 50 over Monarch pass could see decent snowfall Thursday night. Friday looks like the best chance for heavy snow over the San Juan Mountain passes, including US 550 Coal Bank, Molas and Red Mountain. All passes could see between zero and 8 inches of snow by Wednesday night, and a bit less on US 160 over Wolf Creek Pass, SH 17 Cumbres/La Manga Pass and US 160 La Veta Pass.

WINTER/SPRING STORM TRAVEL INFORMATION & TIPS:

  • Log onto CDOT’s traveller information site at: www.cotrip.org

  • Log onto CDOT’s Winter Driving web page at: http://www.coloradodot.info/travel/winter-driving for road conditions winter driving tips and other information

  • For I-70 West Mountain Corridor, please see http://www.coloradodot.info/travel/winter-driving/I-70WestTrafficMgmt.html. The I-70 Mountain Travel Radio broadcast complements CDOT’s existing resources for traffic and road condition information throughout the state. Motorists can visit COTrip.org and the CDOT Mobile app, sign up for GovDelivery alerts that offer important travel information, or call 511 anywhere in Colorado for periodically updated road conditions. Also, GoI70.com – hosted by the I-70 Coalition – provides weekly I-70 travel forecasts based on historical data and how weather, construction or events may impact the mountain commute.

  • CDOT also provides travel information and frequent updates through Twitter.

  • Be sure you have good snow tires. How do you know if you need new snow tires? Insert a quarter into the tire tread upside down, with Washington’s head going in first; if the top of George’s head is covered by the tread, your tires are OK (do this test in multiple points around each tire.) If the top of his head is visible at any point, you need new tires.

  • 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.

  • If you are stuck in a serious storm do not leave your car. Run the engine periodically and wait for help.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Know the chain laws. Chain restrictions in Colorado are most often put into effect for commercial vehicles (semi-trailer trucks).

  • Drive for the conditions. 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.

  • In addition to these winter driving tips, CDOT reminds all motorists to respect winter weather, conduct a pre-trip inspection of your vehicle, leave extra space between your automobile and others on the road (including plow trucks). Of course, always buckle up!

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