Hazardous weather is expected to make travel difficult on New Year’s Day, especially in the evening

December 30, 2019 - Statewide News - Drivers urged to be prepared on their return home from the holiday


COLORADO ― Winter weather could create hazardous driving conditions across much of Colorado on New Year’s Day and into the holiday night. The Colorado Department of Transportation urges travelers to use caution, check on updated weather forecasts and plan ahead.

Heavy traffic volumes can be expected on New Year’s Day in the evening, particularly on the interstates, with travelers returning home from the holiday. CDOT urges travelers to be prepared not only for possible delays, but also winter driving conditions. Extreme caution is advised if driving in the mountains. Vehicles should be fitted with a winter emergency kit. Emergency kits should include water, snacks, chains/alternative traction devices, sand, flares, jumper cables, blankets, etc. 

Motorists are urged to take it slow, leave a safe space behind the vehicle ahead, don’t pass plows and avoid driving during the height of a storm. Drivers should anticipate safety closures due to unsafe driving conditions. CDOT and Colorado State Patrol make every attempt to hold traffic in areas where services are available. While safety closures are more likely on mountain passes, they can happen on any roadway deemed unsafe for travel. Conditions at closure points may seem drivable, however CDOT and CSP are keeping drivers away from areas at a further distance where extreme conditions may be occurring. Do not go through closure points and closed gates, even on foot, with skis or with snowmobiles. Use extreme caution when using GPS suggested alternate routes to get around safety closures.



The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued a Hazardous Weather Outlook for the I-70 mountain corridor, north-central mountains and the northeast plains of Colorado. Snow and gusty winds will push into the northern mountains, likely heaviest north of I-70, on Wednesday (New Year’s Day) and into Thursday. Additionally, a chance of light snow is predicted for the plains on New Year’s Day in the afternoon and evening. Winds will increase across the area Thursday evening creating hazardous travel conditions.


The NWS has issued a Special Weather Statement for western Colorado. Significant mountain snowfall is possible starting New Year’s Day. A series of cold and moist Pacific storms will be moving across western Colorado starting New Year’s Day in the afternoon and persisting through the week. This weather pattern may bring locally heavy snowfall to the mountains and high valleys for an extended period of time with only short breaks and waves of snowfall between storms. High mountain passes will be impacted, especially New Year’s Day at night and Thursday. Anyone planning to travel across western Colorado should monitor the latest forecast as this series of winter storms move into the region.


There are no weather alerts currently issued by the NWS for the Interstate-25 corridor and central/south eastern plains. However, a slight chance of rain and snow is possible in the evening of New Year’s Day. Travelers are advised to drive with care, as even trace amounts of snow or moisture can impact road conditions.  


As an alternative to driving in the mountains this weekend and for greater peace of mind, motorists will be able to take advantage of CDOT’s recently introduced Snowstang. Snowstang will provide Saturday and Sunday round-trip bus service between Denver and the Loveland Ski Area, Arapahoe Basin, Steamboat Resort, and Howelsen Hill in Steamboat Springs. 

For all three lines, passengers can board at Denver Union Station or the Denver Federal Center. Round-trip tickets for Loveland Ski Area and Arapahoe Basin start at $25.  A round-trip to Steamboat Springs (Steamboat Resort and Howelsen Hill) is $40.00. Additional discounts will be available for seniors and children. To purchase tickets, visit www.ridebustang.com or download the Bustang® mobile app, JustRide Bustang, for iOS or Android.

Operated by Ace Express Coaches, LLC of Golden, Snowstang™ coaches carry 51 passengers, are climate controlled, and have Wi-Fi access, a restroom, USB and power outlets. Let Snowstang do the driving and parking for you.


CDOT urges travelers to be aware of chain and traction law codes before heading out on the roadway.

  • Code 18/Commercial Chain Law: Commercial vehicles and trucks must have chains. Vehicles without chains can often lose traction, causing traffic delays and sometimes road closures. For the safety of the traveling public, it's critical to use chains to be in compliance with Colorado's chain law.

  • Code 15/Passenger Traction Law: All passenger vehicles must have weather-appropriate tires with 3/16-inch depth. 2WD vehicles must have one of the following: winter tires, tires with mud/snow (M+S) designation, chains or alternative traction devices such as an Autosock. 4WD and AWD vehicles must have tires with 3/16 inch tread depth.

  • Code 16/Passenger Chain Law: All passenger vehicles need chains, except for 4WD and AWD vehicles with all-weather tires with 3/16 inch tread depth.


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:


Earlier this year, CDOT announced its Whole System — Whole Safety initiative to heighten safety awareness. This initiative takes a systematic, statewide approach to safety combining the benefits of CDOT’s programs that address driving behaviors, our built environment and the organization's operations. The goal is to improve the safety of Colorado’s transportation network by reducing the rate and severity of crashes and improving the safety of all transportation modes. The program has one simple mission—to get everyone home safely.


CDOT has approximately 3,000 employees located throughout Colorado, and manages more than 23,000 lane miles of highway and 3,429 bridges. CDOT also manages grant partnerships with a range of other agencies, including metropolitan planning organizations, local governments and airports. It also administers Bustang, the state-owned and operated inter-regional express service. Governor Jared Polis has charged CDOT to further build on the state’s multimodal mobility options.