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CDOT warns of ‘treacherous winter driving conditions’ this weekend in Colorado high country

March 9, 2023, 4:25 pm

The Colorado Department of Transportation on Thursday issued the following press release on an incoming winter storm expected to snarl driving conditions in the Colorado mountains:

Travelers to Colorado’s high country will encounter treacherous winter driving conditions this weekend. The Colorado Department of Transportation urges skiers, backcountry users and spring break travelers to plan ahead. Highway mountain passes and the Interstate 70 corridor will see severe impacts with heavy snowfall and wind-driven snow causing slushy roads, snowpacked conditions and potential white-outs.   

“Motorists need to be prepared with more than just their outdoor gear when traveling during winter weather conditions,” said John Lorme, CDOT’s director of maintenance and operations. “Pack your vehicle with extra food, water, warm clothes, blankets and necessities like medications. Safety closures may happen at any time during severe weather and if you are held up on the highway you want to be prepared.” 

The National Weather Service has issued winter storm warnings and advisories for western Colorado and the I-70 mountain corridor, emphasizing that travel will be difficult to impossible. Heavy snow and blowing snow could significantly reduce visibility, especially on mountain passes.

“Commercial motor vehicle and passenger vehicle drivers must drive for the conditions and consider the hazards before heading out on the roads,” said Lorme. “If you do not have experience driving in winter weather, please avoid driving in the mountains this weekend. We understand that many folks may be visiting Colorado this weekend and urge them to consider taking CDOT’s Pegasus, Snowstang or Bustang to get to their destinations safely. The more vehicles off the roadway, the easier it is to keep our roads clear of both snow and incidents.”

East of the Divide and the Denver area will experience more spring-like storm conditions. Rain and light snow showers will begin late Friday night and will last through the weekend. Roads will be slick. Additionally, the Front Range and Eastern Plains are under a red flag warning. Travelers along the I-25 corridor, especially drivers in high-profile vehicles, should drive with extreme caution. 

Drivers are urged to “know before you go”, check road conditions on COtrip.org, and stay on top of the latest forecast information as the winter weather evolves.

What Motorists Should Know

  • Avoid or limit driving during the brunt of the storm. Many areas of the state will experience pavement impacts.
  • 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 snowplows.

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.

Chain & 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.

COtrip.org & COtrip Planner App

If motorists must head out during this winter storm, they are urged to visit COtrip.org and download the COtrip Planner app ahead of time. 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. 

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!

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 and anticipated travel impacts and current road conditions prior to hitting the road. CDOT resources include:

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