Vail Valley, mountain corridor driving could be hazardous this weekend
As much as two feet of snow could fall in the higher elevations
Those planning to head into or out of the high country this weekend can expect heavy traffic and treacherous conditions beginning Feb. 6 and lasting through the weekend.
Drivers should be prepared for significant snow accumulations, blowing and drifting snow, as well as closures due to likely avalanche mitigation. Motorists should make sure their vehicles are properly equipped with good tread and chains, as traction and chain laws will likely be put into effect. The Colorado Department of Transportation also anticipates heavier-than-normal ski traffic.
Another storm is expected to bring a prolonged period of snowfall beginning Feb. 6 through Feb. 8. Snowfall will be steady throughout both Thursday and Friday. Heavy snowfall is likely in the northern mountains, south-central mountains, southern mountains and along the Interstate 70 mountain corridor. Mountain winds will be strong at times, leading to areas of blowing and drifting snow.
The National Weather Service is forecasting mountain snow totals of more than 12 inches to as much as nearly 2 feet in areas.
I-70 Mountain corridor
Travel on Thursday, Friday and Saturday from the Front Range to ski areas will likely take longer than usual. Motorists traveling along the I-70 mountain corridor and across northwest Colorado must plan for extended delays due to heavy snowfall on Thursday and Friday, including blowing and drifting snow.
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Travelers should anticipate closures due to avalanche control. Transportation officials will share details of any planned closures for avalanche mitigation whenever possible. Roads will likely be icy and snowpacked, with a strong chance of traction and chain laws being put in place. Commercial vehicles should not travel into the mountains without chains.
Expected accumulations are 10 to 18 inches for Vail Pass and the Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnels, 12 to 20 inches for Berthoud Pass, 16 to 24 inches for Rabbit Ears Pass and 6- to 10 inches for the Grand Mesa.
Chain and traction laws
Transportation officials urge travelers to be aware of chain and traction law codes before heading out on the roadway.
- Code 18/Commercial Chain Law: Commercial vehicles and trucks must have chains. Vehicles without chains can often lose traction, causing traffic delays and sometimes road closures.
- Code 15/Passenger Traction Law: All passenger vehicles must have appropriate all-weather tires with 3/16-inch depth. Vehicles must have one of the following: winter tires, tires with an M+S designation, chains or alternative traction devices such as an AutoSock. All-wheel and four-wheel-drive vehicles must have winter tires or all-weather tires.
- Code 16/Passenger Chain Law: All passenger vehicles need chains, except for all-wheel and four-wheel-drive vehicles with all-weather tires with 3/16 inch tread depth.
There are buses
As an alternative to driving in the mountains this weekend, skiers can take advantage of the Colorado Department of Transportation’ recently introduced Snowstang. Snowstang will provide Saturday and Sunday round-trip bus service between Denver and the Loveland Ski Area, Arapahoe Basin, Steamboat Resort, and Howelsen Hill in Steamboat Springs.
To purchase tickets, visit http://www.ridebustang.com or download the Bustang mobile app, JustRide Bustang, for iOS or Android.
Operated by Ace Express Coaches, LLC of Golden, Snowstang™ coaches carry 51 passengers, are climate controlled, and have Wi-Fi access, a restroom, USB and power outlets.
Information about weather forecasts and anticipated travel impacts and current road conditions prior to hitting the road are available at:
- The Colorado Department of Transportation has winter driving tips on the downloadable flyer: WinterWise Driving Tips.
- Road conditions and travel information: http://www.COtrip.org
- Chain and traction law information: http://www.codot.gov/admin/travel/winter-driving/tractionlaw
- Sign up for project or travel alerts: bit.ly/COalerts
- See scheduled lane closures: codot.gov/travel/scheduled-lane-closures.html
- Social media accounts are: @coloradodot on Twitter and facebook.com/coloradodot.