First winter storm of the fall season expected to bring  adverse driving conditions to much of the state

October 8, 2019 - Statewide News - CDOT urges drivers to be prepared and make sure your tires are winter ready

COLORADO ― The Colorado Department of Transportation is gearing up for its first winter storm of the fall season. The cold, unsettled weather is expected to impact much of the state Wednesday through Friday this week. CDOT warns motorists as they travel to be prepared for adverse weather conditions. 

Fall storms can catch motorists off guard, especially those preceded by warm temperatures. Storms this time of year typically have high moisture content, which could lead to roadways becoming very slick, very fast. This storm also is expected to have high winds bringing blowing snow to some areas of the state and red flag warnings to others.

The new traction law:

During snow and icy conditions, the new law increases the minimum tread depth for tires on all vehicles - including those with four-wheel drive - from an eighth of an inch to three-sixteenths of an inch. For more information, go to

The new tandem snowplow law:

It is illegal for drivers to pass a snowplow operating in tandem formation with one or more snowplows.  The snowplows have the right-of-way. In general, it’s best to stay safely behind plows. 


The storm is expected to hit the Denver metro area Wednesday night with cold rainy weather and turning to snow by early Thursday morning with freezing temperatures through Friday morning.  A few inches of snow are expected in the metro area with more accumulation in Golden and along the Front Range Wednesday morning. CDOT crews will begin snow shifts Wednesday night with approximately 100 plows.   Crews are not expected to pre-treat the roads with salt brine because the rain would wash away the materials. They will de-ice roads once the snow starts to keep pavement as clear as possible.

Motorists should give themselves extra time for their Thursday morning commute as roads are expected to be mostly wet and slick with icy areas on bridges and overpasses.   It’s critical that vehicles be winter ready with appropriate tires, take it slow and leave plenty of room behind the vehicle ahead. 


Motorists who travel through the I-25 South Gap project should drive with extra care as the pavement will likely be wet and slick, particularly on Monument Hill due to the high elevation of the road.  While CDOT crews will be out treating roads to make them as safe as possible for winter driving, motorists need to be prepared with proper tires and give themselves extra time to reach their destination.   


The first major, strong cold front of the fall season is set to arrive in northern Colorado late Wednesday. Travel over higher mountain passes in the central and northern mountains will be impacted from Wednesday night through Thursday evening. Freezing temps will cause slick driving conditions. Motorists are encouraged to slow down, plan ahead and be prepared to drive in winter conditions. 


Cold temperatures and the first accumulations of snow for the season are possible in the southwest Colorado mountains and high country on Wednesday night and Thursday. Freezing temps and some snow will likely affect the Thursday morning drive, particularly at higher elevations. Travel over higher mountain passes will be impacted from Wednesday night through Thursday evening. Roads at lower elevations will likely be slick and wet. 


Travel over higher mountain passes in the central and northern mountains will be impacted from Wednesday night through Thursday evening. The storm system will bring strong winds and much colder air to the mountains and valleys. Accumulating snow is likely across the mountains and over the higher elevations of the plains. Some snow will also be possible over the lower elevations of the plains.


While the southeast portion of the state may see temperatures in the high 70s and low 80s on Wednesday, don’t be fooled, winter weather is coming. High winds and a red flag warning are in place through Wednesday for most of the southeast region of the state. Those winds will bring snow showers early in the day Thursday to Monument Hill, Palmer Divide, as well as Teller and Park Counties. Snow accumulation is expected to be one to three inches in many areas, with blowing snow causing visibility concerns. The eastern plains will see much cooler temperatures and high winds gusting at over 40mph.  Wind restrictions for commercial motor vehicles could be put in place.


Starting Wednesday, those cold temperatures will hit late. Currently, the expectation is the storm will start with rain Wednesday night and into Thursday morning. Most of the accumulation will be west of I-25 with 2-3 inches expected near the foothills. East of I-25, the predictions are now estimating only an inch or so, but the cold temperatures and windy conditions could freeze things up, so everyone is encouraged to drive safely. Northern mountain passes will definitely get more. The Peak to Peak highway could get up to 9 inches. 




Earlier this year, CDOT launched 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 at its Denver headquarters and in regional offices 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, and administers Bustang, the state-owned and operated interregional express service. Colorado Governor Jared Polis has charged CDOT to further build on the state’s intermodal mobility options.