News

Motorists urged to avoid travel through Monday due to fire dangers and the first significant snow of the season

October 24, 2020 - Statewide News - CDOT crews fighting fire and ice as they go into snow-removal mode

As firefighters battle the wildfires in Colorado’s high country, CDOT crews are preparing for a blast of winter weather expected to impact much of the state beginning Sunday.  A powerful front coming from the north is expected to bring widespread snow with heavy accumulations of up to a foot in the northern mountains and four to eight inches in the Denver region.  Snow is expected to impact much of the state, with higher accumulations on the Front Range, Eastern Plains and North, Central and Southwest Mountains.

The Colorado Department of Transportation urges motorists to avoid traveling during the storm.  CDOT resources are focused on fire and ice duty.  Crews continue to assist with road closures related to fire evacuations and they will be out in force to clear roads.  Snow removal efforts can be hampered from crashes that could be avoided. Many motorists tend to drive too fast for the conditions and lack the appropriate tires for the winter weather in the beginning of the snow season, which is the key cause of crashes in the snow.

Roadway impacts are expected to begin in northern Colorado and the high country, including the I-70 Mountain Corridor as early as late Saturday. Snow rates up to one inch an hour are possible during the storm.  Snow will impact the Denver region and the Front Range Sunday through Monday, with mountain corridor winter weather continuing through midday Monday.  Snow will stick as temperatures are expected to drop in the teens and 20s with overnight lows in the single digits to below zero.  

Denver Region and the I-70 Mountain Corridor to the Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnel

CDOT crews begin their snow shifts on Saturday with 95 plows in the metro region and another 28 plows on I-70 to the EJMT tunnel.  In the metro region, crews will pre-treat mainline roads and bridge decks in advance of the storm. 

Avoid travel Sunday through Monday morning as the storm comes through.  If teleworking is an option, that would be advised for Monday.  Monday morning’s commute is expected to be slick and slow going.  

I-25 from Castle Rock to Colorado Springs 

Motorists should avoid driving this stretch of highway during the storm, Sunday through Monday morning. The high elevation of the road at Monument Hill can make for challenging driving conditions.  Much of this road is also under construction.  It’s likely the speed limit will be lowered and closures are possible depending on the severity of the storm to prevent crashes.  

I-70 Mountain Corridor
Travelers should prepare for heavy snow and low temperatures. Chain and traction laws are likely, so motorists should check tires before traveling and have chains or auto socks on hand. CDOT continues to ask motorists to not travel to the high country, due to wildfire operations and evacuations. If travel in the high country is necessary, be sure to have an emergency kit in the event of road closures or delays due to winter weather.

Southeastern Colorado  

Freezing drizzle and bitter cold temperatures are expected throughout the southeastern portion of the state. Palmer Divide should expect freezing drizzle to turn to snow on Sunday with the potential of four to eight inches of accumulation. Higher elevations in the southern mountains near Walsenburg should anticipate 10 to 16 inches of snow accumulation. Travel could be challenging over La Veta and Raton Passes. CDOT crews in the southeast region will not be pretreating I-25 through Colorado Springs, due to the storm starting with rain showers. With sharply cold temperatures, motorists should be prepared for the potential of flash freezing.  

Northern Colorado and Eastern Plains 

Snow, colder weather and moisture will be a welcome relief to firefighting efforts.  Roads will be slick and motorists should avoid driving in the mountains due to wildfires and snow removal efforts. 

Please note roadways may open and re-open as needed for everyone’s safety due to wildfires. Conditions are likely to change quickly, so motorists should check COtrip.org for the latest conditions.

Southwestern Colorado 

Heavy snow is likely in the higher elevations throughout the southwest and south-central regions of Colorado. The valleys and lower elevations will experience a snow/rain mix. Travel could be very difficult, especially over high mountain passes.

What motorists need to know

  • Avoid traveling during the storm 

  • Avoid traveling challenging areas when it snows, particularly on I-25 between Castle Rock and Colorado Springs, the I-70 Mountain Corridor and roads in the high country

  • Do not travel in the snow unless your vehicle is ready for the weather

  • Make sure you have appropriate tires with good tread for the weather

  • Carry an emergency kit in your car, including extra water, food and blankets

  • When driving on slick roads, take it slow and leave ample room behind the vehicle ahead

  • Give yourself extra time to reach your destination

  • Know before you go and check out road conditions by going to cotrip.org

Traction and chain laws 

  • The weather on many corridors, particularly the I-70 Mountain Corridor, I-25 Monument Hill south of Castle Rock and mountain passes can change dramatically on a dime, from mild weather to a poor visibility snow storm.  You have to be ready for this - and critical to that is having the right tires in addition to making sure your vehicle is winter ready. 

  • Traction law is normally implemented when snow begins to accumulate mainly on the I-70 Mountain Corridor and mountain passes.

  • The traction law requires ALL passenger vehicles - including 4WD and AWD vehicles - to have appropriate tires with 3/16 inch tread for the snow.  Passenger vehicles must have one of the following: snow tires, tires with the mud/snow (M+S) designation, chains or alternative traction devices such as an autosock.  4WD and AWD vehicles can have either snow tires or all weather tires. 

  • From Sept. 1 through May 31, all commercial vehicles traveling on the I-70 Mountain Corridor must carry sufficient chains to be in compliance with the Colorado chain law. 

Info sources 

Colorado: The Official State Web Portal