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THANKSGIVING WEEK TRAVEL INFO

November 24, 2019 - Snow storms and heavy holiday traffic to affect travel and commutes this Thanksgiving week. Potential closures may impact travel plans.

Waves of winter weather will impact driving in Colorado for the busiest travel week of the year. The Colorado Department of Transportation reminds drivers to heed weather forecasts and anticipate heavier than normal traffic over the next week as people travel for the Thanksgiving holiday. More importantly, travelers should be aware that quick, steady accumulations of snow along with blowing snow, will likely cause highway safety closures. CDOT recommends delaying holiday travel throughout the state until Wednesday.

The National Weather Service (NWS) advises, “Conditions will not be favorable for the busy holiday travel period leading up to, during, and after Thanksgiving, especially in the mountains.” The NWS also urges travelers to stay tuned to the latest and updated forecasts on developing winter storms throughout the holiday week.

WEATHER FORECASTS (as of Sun., Nov. 24)

NORTHEAST COLORADO & METRO DENVER: 

The NWS has issued a Winter Storm Warning from Monday evening through Tuesday afternoon for the northeastern part of the state, including Denver. This storm is expected to drop 6-15 inches of snow which will cause significant travel difficulties. Driving conditions will deteriorate Monday evening into Tuesday afternoon, with winds at 15-30 mph producing blowing and drifting snow. The NWS says, “While there is some uncertainty about this storm’s impact on the Denver area as it may be on the edge of this storm, there is a chance that travel could become impossible in the Denver area Tuesday morning, so residents should be prepared for that possibility.”

 

WESTERN SLOPE, NORTHWEST, SOUTHWEST & CENTRAL COLORADO:

Hazardous travel can be expected before, during and after the (Thursday) Thanksgiving holiday. Colorado’s northern mountains, western slope, southwestern mountains and central mountains may see 5-10 inches of snow by Tuesday. A second, stronger storm will dig into the western regions of the state Wednesday night and continue through Thanksgiving Day and into Friday. This second storm wave will likely bring significant snowfall totals, particularly for the southern mountains.

 

SOUTHEAST COLORADO: 

Currently there are no weather advisories issued for the southeastern portions of the state, including Colorado Springs and Pueblo. However, there is a 40-60% chance of less than one inch of snow on Tuesday morning, which could still impact morning commutes. 

 

WHAT CDOT IS DOING 

STATEWIDE:

Across the state, where roads and highways are being impacted by accumulating snow, maintenance crews have been assigned to ‘round-the-clock snow shifts beginning Monday morning. All available resources will be utilized. Some areas of the state have already started pre-treating roadways to prevent snow and ice from bonding to pavement surfaces. As snowfall rates increase, crews will focus on primary roads and reduce levels of service on secondary roads in an effort to reduce impacts to the main highways. Road closures for safety reasons are possible depending on conditions. 

 

METRO DENVER AND SOUTH GAP: 

All mainline interstates, primary, and secondary roads will be pre-treated beginning Monday morning through Monday afternoon. This includes I-25, I-70, I-225, I-76, I-270, US 6, and C-470. Additionally, areas of concern such as flyovers, overpasses, bridges, and ramps will be pre-treated.

WHAT MOTORISTS SHOULD DO

Due to colder temperatures throughout the duration of the storm, expect slick and icy conditions. Impacts are expected during the Tuesday morning commute. Conditions can be treacherous during the brunt of the storm, and CDOT urges motorists to limit driving while it is snowing.  However, if you must drive during the storm, keep these tips in mind:

  • Drive slowly and reduce your speed. 
  • Do not follow the car in front of you too closely. 
  • Do not pass the plows. 
  • Know before you go and take responsibility for your own safety. Check cotrip.org for the latest road conditions before heading out.
  • Make sure your car is prepared for winter conditions with the proper tires, a snow scraper, and other necessary items. Utilize this winter driving preparedness checklist for everything you need to have in your vehicle. 

 

INCREASED TRAFFIC AND WORK ZONES

Traffic on Interstate 70 west typically increases on Wednesday prior to Thanksgiving, with westbound traffic expected to be heavier than normal through Friday, November 29, primarily from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m.  Heavy traffic should be anticipated on eastbound I-70 Saturday and Sunday, especially between Vail and the Denver area from late morning until late afternoon.

Traffic on the I-25 corridor is also expected to be high  this Thanksgiving holiday, especially due to the number of large shopping areas located along the Front Range corridor.

To reduce potential delays, most CDOT construction projects will be suspended statewide by Wednesday afternoon, November 27.  Projects will resume their regular schedules on Monday, December 2. Projects located in rural or low-traffic areas may be operating Friday. While most construction work will be suspended over the holiday, motorists are urged to drive with extra care through work zones, take it slow and leave a safe distance behind the vehicle ahead. The root causes of fatalities on the road are speeding, drunk driving and reckless driving. 

TRAVEL INFORMATION

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:

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Colorado: The Official State Web Portal