Motorists should be prepared for challenging winter driving conditions through a busy travel weekend

Winter Travel Alert

January 12, 2024 - Statewide - Multiple rounds of mountain snow, along with arctic cold anticipated

Statewide — Several rounds of snow and blowing snow will occur in the mountains over the next several days, alongside severe cold, which may cause wind chills from -20 to -30 degrees in the foothills and plains. The Interstate 70 mountain corridor typically sees the most traffic over the Martin Luther King holiday weekend, so it is crucial that motorists be prepared for winter driving conditions. Heavy snow and strong winds are expected through the holiday weekend starting today, Jan. 12, over western and southern Colorado, including along the foothills and Raton Mesa. This could cause localized ground blizzards and zero visibility.

Snow is anticipated to taper off later in the afternoon on Saturday, with another round of heavier snow likely to develop Saturday night through Sunday. Areas of concern include Georgetown to West Vail on I-70 and US 40 to Steamboat Springs. An avalanche warning and avalanche advisories have been posted for nearly all of the Colorado mountain regions. Motorists should also be prepared for the possibility of safety closures for avalanche mitigation operations along the I-70 mountain corridor and other high mountain passes, especially on Tuesday morning.

On the plains, arctic cold will settle across the area Friday night into Saturday, with dangerously cold wind chill readings expected to last through Tuesday morning. This extended cold snap may result in icy and slick road conditions.

In the event of severe winter weather and deteriorating road conditions, CDOT may close state-owned roadways to protect the traveling public. Highway safety closures are a proactive approach to highway safety and are used to eliminate long-term closures of the interstates or highways, allowing CDOT to deploy snowplow and operations crews during the most intense periods of the snowstorm. CDOT may also implement safety closures if there are spin-outs or other incidents along the highways. Motorists can visit COtrip.org, the COtrip Planner app or call 511 for the latest road conditions and updated information about highway closures.

With the below freezing temperatures, it is imperative that motorists make sure their vehicles are packed with equipment that may be necessary in the event of a closure. While it is always encouraged to have these items in your vehicle, motorists should not travel without these this weekend: sturdy scraper/snow brush/snow shovel to clear snow; flashlights; blanket or sleeping bag; water and food/snacks; first aid kit and essential medications; tire chains and tow strap; jumper cables; flares/reflectors to signal for help and warn other motorists; coats, hats, mittens, boots, etc.; hand warmers; non-clumping kitty litter/sand for traction; and a deck of cards or board game for entertainment.

If a driver feels anxious, unsafe or does not feel confident about driving in adverse conditions, it may be best to wait for conditions to improve as driving in white-out conditions can cause distress and limit driving abilities. CDOT offers bus and shuttle services that offer stops at Colorado’s various ski resorts and can help alleviate the stress of driving through winter conditions. Snowstang offers stops at Arapahoe Basin, Copper Mountain, Loveland Ski Area, Steamboat Springs, and Breckenridge. More information can be found through this link. CDOT also offers Pegasus, a van shuttle service that offers stops at Idaho Springs, Frisco, Vail, and Avon. More information about Pegasus can be found through this link.

Chain and Traction Laws

When weather conditions warrant, CDOT will activate the Traction Law. If weather conditions deteriorate, CDOT will activate Chain Laws for passenger and commercial vehicles. Motorists will be alerted to an active Traction or Chain Law by highway signage, COtrip.org and traffic/roadway condition alerts. For more information on the Traction Law and Passenger Vehicle Chain Law requirements, visit codot.gov/travel/winter-driving/tractionlaw. For more information on the Commercial Vehicle Chain Law requirements, visit codot.gov/travel/colorado-chain-laws. To learn more and view helpful tips for winter driving, visit winter.codot.gov.

COtrip.org and COtrip Planner app

Motorists are urged to visit COtrip.org and download the COtrip Planner app ahead of traveling. Motorists are now able to sign up for travel alerts through COtrip.org to see if there are any highway closures or impacts along their favorite routes. The COtrip Planner app also offers a “Trip Planner” feature that allows motorists to map out their routes and receive updates about road closures or incidents along the way. Motorists can turn on the “Hands-Free, Eyes Free” feature to receive these alerts via voice notifications and avoid routes with impacts.

CDOT is also pleased to offer motorists the opportunity to track CDOT snow plows on the app and website, and can even follow some of our “celebrity” plows that were named by elementary school students last year. Using the snow plow tracker allows motorists to see where our plows have been and even see what the road conditions look like by viewing the cameras in the area of the plows. CDOT plows have thousands of miles of roadway to maintain, so motorists are asked to please be patient and are reminded to never pass a plow on the right or while in echelon formation. It is always safer to stay behind a plow.

Know Before You Go

Travelers are urged to “know before you go.” Gather information about weather forecasts, anticipated travel impacts and current road conditions before hitting the road. CDOT and other resources include: