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CDOT urges travelers to be ready for winter weather this holiday weekend

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As families settle down to celebrate Thanksgiving, the Colorado Department of Transportation snow fighting crews will be out non-stop preparing for winter weather and plowing snow as a winter storm is expected to impact much of the state beginning tomorrow night and lasting through the weekend.

“Where you are, wherever you are traveling to, plan on taking it slower and sober, leaving yourself more time and arriving alive,” said CDOT Executive Director Shoshana Lew. “CDOT’s snow fighting crews and our traffic operations centers will be on shift throughout the holiday weekend to keep our state maintained roads as safe as possible over the Thanksgiving holiday.”

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Snow is expected to impact the Interstate 70 mountain corridor later tomorrow through Saturday. The heaviest snow, 6 to 12 inches, is expected in the San Juan and Elk mountains and the Grand Mesa.

Weather forecasts show colder temperatures and snow starting Thursday night east of the Continental Divide and reaching most of eastern Colorado Friday morning, the peak of the storm. The heaviest snow will fall over higher elevations of Larimer and Boulder counties.

While CDOT crews will be out plowing roads, pavement will be slick and motorists should prepare for winter driving conditions, particularly on the I-70 mountain corridor and higher elevations. Motorists should plan ahead, check the weather conditions and road conditions by going to COtrip.org before going out. They should avoid or limit driving during the brunt of a snow storm. They must be winter-ready, including having the appropriate tires with adequate tread for the weather. It is also important to pack a survival kit including blankets, extra clothing, food, water, a flashlight, chargers and batteries.

Map of expected snowfall accumulation in Colorado

  • I-70 Mountain Corridor - CDOT crews will be on snow shift prior to the Thanksgiving storm. They will switch over from maintenance to snow plowing duties on Thursday. Light to moderate snow is expected to impact the roadway Thursday night through Saturday. Motorists are urged to be prepared for slick driving conditions.
  • Denver Metro - Light to moderate snow is expected in the region. Crews will be on snow shift beginning Thursday afternoon. Snow is expected to start tomorrow night and last through Saturday. Hardest hit areas are expected to be along the foothills in Golden, Morrison and Arvada. Motorists should prepare for slick roads come Friday and give themselves plenty of time for shopping and other activities.
  • Northern Colorado - Thursday night and Friday, the northern foothills in Boulder and Larimer counties are expected to get hit the hardest with 5 to 10 inches of snow. The rest of the area, including the North I-25 corridor will get 3 to 6 inches through Friday.
  • Southeastern Colorado - Incoming system will bring winter weather to southeast Colorado starting late Thursday and lasting into this weekend. Light to moderate snow is expected throughout the region. The I-25 corridor through Huerfano, Pueblo and El Paso counties will see minor snow impacts with 3 to 6 inches expected. Travelers along the I-25 corridor should prepare for slick roads and some snow accumulation. Areas along the Sangre de Cristo Range will see significant snow impacts and travelers should prepare for slick and hazardous road conditions. The southeastern plains east of I-25 can expect a trace to 3 inches with precipitation beginning Friday morning.
  • Southwestern Colorado - Unseasonably warm and dry weather will prevail through Thanksgiving Day, with a strong storm system bringing snow to the mountains as well as the valleys beginning Thursday night. On Friday, travelers should be prepared for slick and hazardous road conditions and the potential for large amounts of snow accumulations on mountain passes. The storm is expected to remain in the southwest and south-central Colorado regions through Saturday morning.

Winter Travel Tips for Motorists

  • Avoid or limit driving during the brunt of the storm
  • If you plan to travel, know before you go by checking out the latest weather conditions and visiting COtrip.org for road conditions (see info sources below)
  • Make sure your vehicle is winter ready with the appropriate tires for the weather and have a snow emergency kit
  • Once you are out on the road, take it slow, no sudden stops and leave plenty of following distance
  • Give plows space! Stay back three to four car lengths from snow plows

Colorado’s Passenger Vehicle Traction Law:

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. The law requires all vehicles to have one of the following:

  • Winter tires (mountain-snowflake icon) and 3/16” tread depth
  • Tires with a mud and snow designation (M+S icon) and 3/16” tread depth
  • Tires with an all-weather rating by the manufacturer and 3/16” tread depth
  • 4WD or AWD vehicle and 3/16” tread depth
  • Chains or an approved alternative traction device

Safety Closures

A safety closure is a precaution taken during inclement weather to reduce the probability of traffic incidents, increased congestion or other safety-related factors. During a safety closure, traffic may be stopped on the interstate, turned around or directed to an exit. Safety closures help decrease delay times, and, above all, keep travelers safe.

COtrip.org & COtrip Planner App

Visit COtrip.org and download the COtrip Planner app ahead of time. Motorists can 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.

The free COtrip Planner mobile app was designed to meet the growing trend of information on mobile and tablet devices for the traveling public. The COtrip Planner app provides statewide, real-time traffic information, and works on mobile devices that operate on the iOS and Android platforms. Visit the Google Play Store (Android devices) or the Apple Store (iOS devices) to download!

Know Before You Go

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: