STATEWIDE —Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) is tracking on a powerful winter storm that is expected to impact southwest, southeast and the eastern plains of Colorado through Thursday evening. This storm has the potential to bring heavy snowfall along with gusty winds which will cause blowing snow and poor visibility.
Eastern and Southeastern Colorado
I-70 from Limon to Kansas, I-25 from Pueblo to New Mexico and I-76 from Fort Morgan to Nebraska - snow and blowing snow expected to begin tonight. Due to potential high winds and poor visibility, it is possible there could be closures for safety reasons. General accumulations will be between 4-8” with some freezing rain at the onset of the storm that may quickly turn to ice with temperatures dropping. Some areas closer to the New Mexico and Kansas state lines could see up to 12”. Winds will gust up to 50 mph.
Denver Metro Area
Light snow expected tonight with minimal accumulation. CDOT crews have pretreated higher elevated road surfaces, including I-25 Monument Hill and high bridges and overpasses.
I-70 Mountain Corridor
The I-70 mountain corridor from Vail Pass over to Eisenhower Tunnel is not expecting heavy accumulation of snow from this storm. Light snow may fall and with colder temperatures moving in will create icy conditions on the roadway.
This storm is expected to produce significant snowfall on mountain passes in the region.
Avalanche control work should be expected along the higher mountain passes in Southwest Colorado and may cause travel delays while operations are taking place and then plows clear the roads.
“The challenge with a storm like this one is not only the snow accumulations but the high winds and poor visibility,” said Kyle Lester, CDOT Director of Highway Maintenance. “Our snowplow operators will be out in full force pretreating our roads before the storm and they’ll be out there until the system moves out of the area. The best way to drive in the snow is to be alert, travel at slower speeds, and know the road conditions before you go by visiting our traveler information website, www.COTRIP.org,” Lester said.
Road and weather conditions are available by dialing 511, 303-639-1111, or visiting www.cotrip.org. Available on the COtrip site are:
Snow Plow Tracker
The traveling public may also visit the CDOT website at www.codot.gov; sign up for GovDelivery alerts; and follow CDOT on Twitter and Facebook (though the latter may not provide the most up-to-date news and conditions).
Winter Prep Tips
CDOT is offering the following list of tips and guidelines for Colorado drivers to be winter ready:
· Check your tires
Worn tires can’t grip the road well and can be extremely hazardous. Check your tires by performing the Quarter Test. Insert a quarter into the tire tread upside down, with Washington’s head going in first; if the top of George’s head is covered by the tread, your tires are OK (do this test in multiple points around each tire). If the top of his head is visible at any point, you need new tires.
Invest in safety by getting a set of snow tires. When it comes to stopping safely on snow and ice, all-season tires simply don’t compare to winter tires (see infographic).
If your tires don’t have at least a one-eighth inch tread when a Traction Law is called, you are in violation of the law and could end up with a fine.
· Leave extra room
Leave extra room between your vehicle and others on the road at all times.
Even vehicles with four-wheel/all-wheel drive will not stop any quicker on icy roads, especially if you have inadequate tires.
· Drive for conditions
In poor visibility, don’t drive faster than you can see ahead. High speeds in poor visibility can lead to dangerous chain reactions.
· Bow to the plow
Snow plows need space to work, so unless you want to cause a crash, delays or be stuck on a snow-covered road, don’t crowd the plow!
If you must pass a snowplow, do so on the left and with extreme caution.
· Be I-70 smart
Check Goi70.com to see travel forecasts for the I-70 mountain corridor, road updates, rideshare and parking information, deals on lodging, food and entertainment for travelers and more.
Remember to avoid peak travel times whenever possible and consider carpooling or alternative transportation.
· Have a plan
If you are stuck in a serious storm, do not leave your car. Run the engine periodically and wait for help.
Prepare a winter driving vehicle kit. Carry blankets, water, a flashlight, a shovel, some nutrition bars or other food for sustenance. Winterize your vehicle’s safety kit by including extra blankets, sand to help gain traction in the event you become stuck on ice or snow, jumper cables and an ice scraper.
Additionally, all motorists should be familiar with Colorado’s Passenger Vehicle Traction Law and Passenger Vehicle Chain Law. These laws are implemented when weather and road conditions require it, at which time highway signage will be activated to alert drivers.
· Traction Law — When the Traction Law is in effect, motorists must have snow tires, tires with mud/snow (M/S) designation, or a four-wheel/all-wheel drive vehicles — all tires must have a minimum one-eighth inch tread.
· Passenger Vehicle Chain Law — Reserved for severe winter conditions as the final safety measure before an interstate is closed, the Passenger Vehicle Chain Law states that every vehicle on the roadway must have chains or an alternative traction device (like AutoSock).
Without proper equipment, you can be fined $130. If your vehicle blocks the roadway, you could be fined more than $650.