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CDOT warns high country drivers about a two-punch storm week in Colorado

October 11, 2021, 6:11 pm

Weekend snow over higher elevations and colder temperatures allowed several nearby resorts to crank up their snowmaking systems — including Epic Pass resort Keystone — and now state highway officials are warning high country drivers that two more intense storms are moving into the state this week (see full press release below).

Opensnow.com offered this analysis Tuesday morning: “On early Tuesday morning, snow started to fall on some southwestern mountains with 1-4 inches of accumulation by sunrise. We’ll see snow showers on Tuesday and Tuesday night with at least a few inches everywhere and the best chance for ~10+ inches in the southwestern and far northern mountains. A second round of up to 6 inches of snow will fall on Thursday and Thursday night.”

Here’s the CDOT press release:

The Colorado Department of Transportation advises travelers to be prepared as two storm systems bring widespread rain, snow and wind across Colorado this week. The first winter storm is expected to drop several inches of snow across Colorado’s Western Slope mountains tonight and tomorrow, with the majority of the snow forecast for the southwest mountains. Another system will bring additional precipitation over the northern and central mountains, and even colder temperatures Thursday and into Friday. The Front Range and easterly plains will experience strong gusting winds. High profile vehicles are urged to use extreme caution. Motorists should check COtrip.org for road conditions and weather forecasts before traveling.

On the Western Slope, motorists should prepare for snow packed and icy conditions and difficult travel conditions due to falling and blowing snow up to 60 mph in mountain areas west of Denver including I-70. From Sept. 1 through May 31, all commercial vehicles traveling on Interstate 70 between the Dotsero (Exit 133) and Morrison (Exit 259) must carry sufficient chains to be in compliance with the Colorado chain law. Chains help commercial vehicles traverse the steep climbs often present in the high country. Without chains, vehicles often become disabled, causing traffic delays and sometimes road closures.

On Sept. 29, CDOT launched a new, easy-to-use COtrip.org website as well as a new mobile “COtrip Planner” app that will allow motorists to safely plan their trip. While motorists have been using COtrip.org for nearly two decades, this updated website and new app offers new features that will help travelers plan their route ahead of time, and be prepared for road or lane closures or adverse road conditions.

Travelers should be prepared for Chain and Traction Laws as they will likely be implemented. Extreme caution is advised if driving in the mountains. Motorists should also make sure cars are equipped with emergency kits before heading out in the likely event of road closures. Emergency kits should include chains/alternative traction devices, water, sand/cat litter, flares, jumper cables, blankets, etc. 

Motorists are urged to take it slow, leave a safe space behind the vehicle ahead, don’t pass plows and avoid driving during the height of a storm. 

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-law. To learn more and view helpful tips for winter driving, visit winter.codot.gov.

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:

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