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Editor’s note: A blast of snow dusted the Eagle River Valley overnight Thursday into Friday, with much more on the way Friday night through Sunday, according to Opensnow.com.
The National Weather Service has issued the following Winter Storm Watch alert for Vail and surrounding Eagle County this weekend. The Colorado Department of Transportation is urging motorists to be prepared (see CDOT press release below):
Winter Storm Watch
ELKHEAD AND PARK MOUNTAINS-GRAND AND BATTLEMENT MESAS- GORE AND ELK MOUNTAINS/CENTRAL MOUNTAIN VALLEYS-WEST ELK AND SAWATCH MOUNTAINS-FLAT TOPS-INCLUDING THE CITIES OF COLUMBINE, HAHNS PEAK, TOPONAS, ASPEN, VAIL, SNOWMASS, CRESTED BUTTE, TAYLOR PARK, MARBLE, BUFORD, AND TRAPPERS LAKE
237 PM MDT THU OCT 26 2023
…WINTER STORM WATCH IN EFFECT FROM FRIDAY EVENING THROUGH SUNDAY MORNING…
* WHAT…HEAVY SNOW POSSIBLE. TOTAL SNOW ACCUMULATIONS OF 8 TO 16 INCHES POSSIBLE…MAINLY ABOVE NINE THOUSAND FEET. LOCALIZED AREAS IN CENTRAL COLORADO COULD SEE HIGHER AMOUNTS.
* WHERE…ELKHEAD AND PARK MOUNTAINS, GRAND AND BATTLEMENT MESAS, GORE AND ELK MOUNTAINS/CENTRAL MOUNTAIN VALLEYS, WEST ELK AND SAWATCH MOUNTAINS AND FLAT TOPS.
* WHEN…FROM FRIDAY EVENING THROUGH SUNDAY MORNING.
* IMPACTS…TRAVEL COULD BE VERY DIFFICULT. PATCHY BLOWING SNOW COULD SIGNIFICANTLY REDUCE VISIBILITY, ESPECIALLY ON RIDGE TOPS. A DETAILED MAP OF THE SNOWFALL CAN BE FOUND AT: WWW.WEATHER.GOV/GJT/WINTER.
MONITOR THE LATEST FORECASTS FOR UPDATES ON THIS SITUATION.
THE LATEST ROAD CONDITIONS FOR THE STATE YOU ARE CALLING FROM CAN BE OBTAINED BY CALLING 5 1 1
CDOT press release:
As updated weather forecasts show the first major winter storm of the season moving into Colorado this weekend, CDOT urges everyone to plan their travel with winter in mind. Travelers should know before you go and check COtrip.org for the latest road conditions. With snow totals as high as 17 inches forecast for Colorado’s central mountains, travelers in the high country should have winter tires installed or be ready to install traction devices on personal vehicles or chains on trucks.
“Winter is coming! During the first major storm of the season, it’s important for everyone to make sure they are ready — including factoring forecasts into weekend travel, taking it slow when winter conditions pick up, and ensuring that your car is equipped with snow tires. Be aware of the road and be extra careful because many drivers haven’t yet readjusted to driving in snowy conditions,” said CDOT Executive Director Shoshana Lew.
A temporary safety closure for Colorado Highway 82 Independence Pass will go into place at noon on Friday, Oct. 27, due to the winter storm. The pass will close in order to keep the traveling public and winter maintenance crews safe. Crews will reevaluate road conditions once the storm passes. The road will reopen once weather has improved and the road is safely cleared of snow and ice. Closure gates are located near Aspen and Twin Lakes. The alternate route from the Denver Metro Area to Aspen is via westbound Interstate 70 to Glenwood Springs, then CO 82 to Aspen. Independence Pass usually closes in November for the winter season.
The Denver Metro Area will have all hands on deck, with full staff and 95 snow plows ready to respond to the storm as winter weather is expected to reach the metro area over the weekend. Another 30 plows will be along the I-70 mountain corridor to the Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnel. Snow showers and blowing snow with poor visibility could make for hazardous driving conditions beginning Saturday night in the higher elevations.
In southeastern Colorado, snow is anticipated to begin Saturday night through Sunday morning in the Colorado Springs area and at higher elevations including Monument Hill, La Veta and Raton passes. However, snow accumulation is expected to be light. Drivers should expect some windy conditions and wet roads.
The northeast part of the state is similar to the southeast. Snow starts late Saturday but accumulations of four to six inches are expected through most of the I-25 corridor. Full snow crews in 168 plows will be on hand to handle drifts from the high winds that are expected.
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.
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.
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!
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: