STORM ALERT − Heavy wet snow to impact driving conditions  in western Colorado

November 19, 2019 - Drivers urged to use caution and plan ahead 

COLORADO ― The Colorado Department of Transportation advises travelers to use caution and plan ahead as a winter storm hits western parts of the state tonight and will linger through Friday morning. The storm will impact mostly the high country, above 8,500 feet. This storm is expected to arrive in two waves, with a brief lull late Wednesday and overnight Thursday.   


Western Colorado: Motorists will encounter snow-packed and icy roads on high mountain passes. Driving conditions will be difficult, particularly along mountain corridors including U.S. 550 Coal Bank, Molas and Red Mountain Passes; CO 145 Lizard Head Pass; and U.S. 160 Wolf Creek Pass. The southern San Juan Mountains may see up to two feet of snow. Meanwhile CO 149 Slumgullion Pass between Creede and Lake City and CO 17 Cumbres and La Manga Passes may receive just under a foot of snow.

North and Central Colorado: Heavy and blowing snow is possible, particularly along the I-70 mountain corridor near Vail Pass and the Eisenhower Tunnel. Significant snowfall is also expected for U.S. 50 Monarch Pass. Snow accumulations in north and central Colorado high country may reach up to 10 inches. 

Front Range: The Front Range and adjacent plains will experience moisture with warmer temperatures and lighter snow rates and limited roadway impacts. The I-25 urban corridor, I-25 Gap Project and foothills may see snow accumulations of 3 to 7 inches in some areas.  



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 appropriate all-weather tires with 3/16-inch depth. Vehicles must have one of the following: snow tires, tires with mud/snow (M+S) designation, chains or alternative traction devices such as an autosock. 4WD and AWD vehicles must have snow tires or all weather tires.

  • 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 inter-modal mobility options.