Prepare for Statewide Winter Storm this Weekend

Jan. 19, 2018 -

STATEWIDE—A strong storm is expected to impact much of Colorado, with snow beginning to fall Saturday morning over Western Colorado and spread east across the state through Sunday.

Motorists should plan on difficult travel conditions in the mountains Saturday through Sunday night. Winter travel conditions will develop over the plains late Saturday night through Sunday.

CDOT crews are out today pre-treating roads, and will be fully deployed throughout the weekend to treat and plow roads. Motorists are asked to stay behind the plows as that can often be safer than being in front of them.

CDOT also asks motorists not to drive on the I-70 Mountain corridor without tire tread that measures at least 1/8-inch, a four-wheel or all-wheel drive vehicle, and/or chains or an alternative traction device (like an AutoSock). Motorists traveling on the corridor should expect longer drive times, with the heaviest traffic going westbound Saturday and Sunday mornings, and eastbound Saturday and Sunday evenings.

The National Weather Service predicts lighter snow for the I-70 corridor from the Utah Line to Vail Pass, and heavier accumulations from four inches to a foot of snow from Vail Pass to Morrison beginning late Saturday morning. Motorists should also prepare for snowy conditions on roads in the Denver metro area, with four to 10 inches expected in the foothills beginning Saturday evening. Three to seven inches of snow is expected to fall over the I-25 corridor beginning late Saturday into early Sunday.

Please take it slowly when traveling to your destination. Keep a safe distance between you and the person in front of you. Please take a look at road conditions before you head up into the high country and use your best judgement.

Winter-Ready Tips & Guidelines

Check Your Tires.
Worn tires can't grip the road well and can be extremely hazardous. Check your tires by performing the Quarter Test. 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.

Invest in safety by getting a set of snow tires. When it comes to stopping safely on snow and ice, all-season tires simply don't compare to winter tires.

If your tires don't have at least a one-eighth-inch tread when a Traction Law is called, you are in violation of the law and could be fined.

Leave Extra Room.
Leave extra room between your vehicle and others on the road at all times.

Even vehicles with four-wheel/all-wheel drive will not stop any quicker on icy roads, especially if you have inadequate tires.

Drive for Conditions.
In poor visibility, don't drive faster than you can see ahead. High speeds in poor visibility can lead to dangerous chain reactions.

Bow to the Plow.
Snowplows need space to work, so unless you want to cause a crash, delays or be stuck on a snow-covered road, don't crowd the plow!

If you must pass a snowplow, do so on the left and with extreme caution.

Be I-70 Smart
Check to see travel forecasts for the I-70 mountain corridor, road updates, rideshare and parking information, deals on lodging, food and entertainment for travelers, and more.

Remember to avoid peak travel times whenever possible, and consider carpooling or alternative transportation.

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

Prepare a winter driving vehicle kit. 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 and an ice scraper.

Additionally, all motorists should be familiar with Colorado's Passenger Vehicle Traction Law and Passenger Vehicle Chain Law. These laws are implemented when weather and road conditions require it, at which time highway signage will be activated to alert drivers.

  • Traction Law—When the Traction Law is in effect, motorists must have snow tires, tires with mud/snow (M/S) designation, or a four-wheel/all-wheel drive vehicle. All tires must have a minimum one-eighth-inch tread.

  • Passenger Vehicle Chain Law—Reserved for severe winter conditions as the final safety measure before an interstate is closed, the Passenger Vehicle Chain Law states that every vehicle on the roadway must have chains or an alternative traction device (like AutoSock).

Without proper equipment, you can be fined $130. If your vehicle blocks the roadway, you could be fined more than $650.

CDOT crews work hard to make sure the roads are safe for motorists to drive on. If there are spots that have no to limited visibility, CDOT will conduct a safety closure. CDOT will also implement a safety closure if it can be reasonably predicted that crashes or spinouts could occur due to the weather. CDOT will then concentrate on the closed areas to get them open as fast as possible.

Travelers can see where plows have been and where they're going by using CDOT's plow tracking tool.