DENVER (CBS4)– The Colorado Department of Transportation has issued a warning to drivers before the impending weekend storm.
CDOT referred to the forecast which calls for heavy, wet snow with accumulations in the feet in the mountains and several inches in the Denver metro area.
CDOT also warned travelers about possible road closures as snow accumulates.
Interstate 70 was closed in both directions over Vail Pass on Friday afternoon because of adverse driving conditions and accidents. Westbound lanes of I-70 were closed from Floyd Hill to Eisenhower Tunnel on Friday afternoon. It was unclear when I-70 will reopen.
“The traveling public should be warned that highway closures are likely during this period due to heavy snowfall and unsafe road conditions,” I-70 Corridor Manager, Patrick Chavez said. “These closures are done for the safety of travelers and to allow maintenance crews time to plow and treat the roads in order to return them to a safe condition that will allow travelers to reach their destinations safely.”
Additional Information From CDOT:
Bustang is canceling its next two runs along the I-70 corridor between Denver and Glenwood Springs due to adverse conditions and current and potential closures of the highway over the next 24 to 48 hours. This evening’s Bustang Route 700, from Denver to Glenwood Springs, with pick-ups at 5:40 p.m. at Denver Union Station and 6 p.m. at the Denver Federal Center, is canceled. Saturday morning’s Route 701 from Glenwood Springs to Denver is also canceled.
Bustang service for the remainder of the weekend is “to be determined” based on road and weather conditions. The other line that could be impacted is the late Sunday afternoon run from Union Station to Fort Collins.
As Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) maintenance forces prepare for snow shifts, please be reminded of the following:
1) Traveling to the mountains? Make sure you have tires that are compliant with passenger vehicle Traction Laws and Chain Laws.
Traction Law — Motorists will need snow tires, tires with mud/snow (M/S) designation, or a four-wheel drive vehicle — all tires must have a minimum one-eighth inch tread.
Passenger Vehicle Chain Law — Every vehicle on the roadway must have chains or an alternative traction devices (like AutoSock).
Without proper equipment, you can be fined $130. If your vehicle blocks the roadway, you could be fined more than $650.
2) KNOW BEFORE YOU GO! Check out cotrip.org to track our plows and for road conditions and closure information. If snow accumulations start exceeding an inch an hour, it gets to be more volume than our plows can keep up with and we may need to implement safety closures.
If the road is closed, please pull off at a rest area or the nearest destination with amenities instead of driving up to the end of the line to wait for the road to reopen. Safety closures could possibly be in place for extended periods depending on continued heavy snowfall and the potential for large numbers of spun out vehicles that require assistance.
3) Depending on the storm conditions and the chance for heavy precipitation, please pay attention for warnings of possible flash floods, especially in areas compromised by burn scars, canyons, etc. (US 24 Waldo Canyon for example). CDOT will implement safety closures in those areas if necessary.
BE SAFE OUT THERE AND GIVE OUR PLOWS ROOM TO KEEP YOU SAFE!
BY THE NUMBERS
Denver Metropolitan Area: Approximately 100 plows in service.
Northeastern Colorado: Approximately 175 plows in service per shift.
Southeastern Colorado: Approximately 160 plows in service per shift.
Southwestern Colorado: Approximately 50 plows in service per shift.
San Luis Valley/Lower Arkansas Valley: Approximately 50 plows in service per shift.
West Central Colorado: About 78 plows in service per shift.
Northwestern Colorado: Thirty-six plows in service per shift.
Region 1-Snow shifts starting at 3 p.m. Friday west of Denver. The area east of Berthoud Pass/Empire and the US 285 corridor down to the Pine Junction. Snow patrols in Denver metro area on snow shifts (crews alternate 12 hour shifts) until the storm has passed out of the area and roads are back to a safe driving condition.
Region 2-Snow shifts will start at 8:00 p.m. with southern patrols waiting until midnight. Beginning Saturday morning, an additional four units will be on hand to cover Monument Hill with the potential to go to Tri Lakes and Castle Rock if necessary. Courtesy Patrol will have four extra tow trucks out starting tomorrow morning, working from Colorado Springs to Castle Rock. The primary goal will be to keep disabled and abandoned vehicles out of travel lanes, so the plows can get through.
Region 3-This strong Pacific storm is already impacting the I-70 corridor with the passenger vehicle traction law and commercial vehicle chain law in effect on many sections of the interstate. The corridor and high mountain passes such as Vail Pass could receive one to two feet of snow in sections.
Region 4-Crews will be starting snow shift in the foothills around 4 p.m. today. Currently with temperatures staying low and the snow sticking around, forecasters are not reporting the potential for flooding.
Region 5/Southwest Colorado– “The incoming storm system will pull copious moisture into our mountains through this weekend,” according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. “The low-pressure system hunkers down over Colorado into next week, so an extended period of colder and unsettled weather is in the mix for our mountains.”
Crews are already out on round-the-clock storm patrols, typically on 12-hour shifts, until dry conditions return to the area.
“We’ll do our very best to keep the roads clear and passable, but if you don’t have to travel, I’d advise against it; it looks like it’s going to be a big storm,” CDOT Poncha Springs Maintenance Area Supervisor Drew McFarland said. “If you do travel, please keep your speed slow and be sure to have your snow tires or, for semi drivers, your chains when the chain law is posted.”
This is what the CAIC is forecasting for southwest and south-central Colorado:
CO 17 Cumbres/La Manga Passes – Up to 20 inches possible by Saturday night
US 50 Monarch Pass: Up to 28 inches possible by Saturday night
CO 145 Lizard Head Pass: Up to 17 inches possible by Saturday night
US 160 Wolf Creek Pass: Up to 20 inches possible by Saturday night
US 550 Passes (Coal Bank, Molas, Red Mountain): Up to 14 inches possible Saturday night (please note, there will be no lane closures on the Red Mountain Pass crib wall project until next week)
CDOT is reminding motorists to consult the department’s traveler information tools:
- Call 511 anywhere in Colorado for periodically updated road conditions;
- Visit cotrip.org
- Sign up for GovDelivery alerts;
- Go to com – hosted by the I-70 Coalition – to see weekly I-70 travel forecasts based on historical data and how weather, construction or events may impact the mountain commute;
- Follow CDOT on Twitter and Facebook (though the latter will not provide the most up-to-date news and conditions).