Governor Polis provided an update on steps Colorado is taking to prepare for the upcoming winter weather. Governor Polis was joined by Director Shoshanna Lew of the Colorado Department of Transportation; John Lorme, Director of Maintenance and Operations, CDOT; and Chief Matthew Packard, Colorado State Patrol. Many Coloradans — especially those looking to get outdoors and enjoy one of our over 300 days of sunshine, have been paying close attention to the weather reports in recent days. And as a major snowstorm comes our way, the Governor wanted to update the public on the state’s planned response.
At 11:50 AM today, Governor Polis issued verbal authorization to activate the Colorado National Guard over a 72 hour period, starting Friday at 12 PM through Monday at 12 PM to respond to search and rescue requests through the State Emergency Operations Center due to the winter storm.
Weather forecasts indicate that the most intense periods of this storm will pose extreme travel risks. For that reason, the State urges Coloradans to stay at home or in a safe location beginning shortly after sunrise on Saturday until at least Sunday afternoon, or until conditions become safe again.
The recommendation for this winter storm applies for the Colorado Springs area up to the Wyoming border and from the Continental Divide to the Eastern Plains. We expect to see the highest snowfall along the I-25 corridor, the Front Range, and the foothills areas.
This is a large area that will be affected, which will disrupt the plans of many of us throughout Colorado. In a storm of this magnitude, we cannot avoid some disruptions, but we do want to take every possible precaution to prevent unnecessary threats to people’s health and safety.
If you can stay safe in your home or in another location, especially during the peak of this storm, Colorado Department of Transportation crews will have a greater ability to do their jobs and return our state roadways to a safe and clear condition. The Colorado State Patrol is also adjusting schedules to optimize their staffing levels in areas anticipated to be most impacted by the storm.
CDOT’s winter operations team has been tracking this storm forecast since Monday, and have preparations well underway to mount an aggressive response for as long as they need to.
If anyone needs to travel over the next several days, it is encouraged to check road conditions before you go; cotrip.org
will have the latest details for any conditions, including possible road closures that may be necessary during the worst of the storm. For more winter travel information, see comprehensive resources at codot.gov/travel/winter-driving
If travel is unavoidable, take time before the storm begins to ensure your vehicle is properly equipped.
Make sure your tires are up to the task with a minimum tread depth of 3/16”
Check your windshield wipers, replace them if needed, and fill your washer fluid.
Check your battery and ensure all your vehicle’s systems are working properly.
AWD or 4×4 vehicles would be best, also consider including tire chains or other alternative traction devices. Commercial vehicles should be ready with chains.
If you must go out, take precautions in the event you become stranded. It is recommended that you bring:
Food and water
Carry a portable power bank or charger to ensure you can get help on its way
In an emergency, you should call 9-1-1 or *CSP from anywhere in the state. Be prepared to shelter in your vehicle as emergency responders come to assist, conditions are anticipated to be severe and can change quickly.
Ranchers and farmers are directly impacted by large snow storms like the one forecast for this weekend, and we are grateful for their skill in protecting our state’s important agriculture industry when significant storms occur.
The Colorado Department of Agriculture will work with state emergency management on resource needs that may result from the storm for our state’s ag communities.
If farmers and ranchers are in need of resources or assistance as a result of the winter storm, they should contact their local emergency management or sheriff’s office first. The Ag Department works closely with these local offices. You can find contact information for your local emergency management office at dhsem.colorado.gov/local-emergency-managers.
CDOT crews have spent the past several days preparing every piece of equipment they have available and their maintenance teams will be working around the clock in 12 hours shifts throughout the storm response.
This storm forecast is different from the typical high country- mountain passes that typically see 2-3 foot totals. Instead of directing their resources to those passes as they usually do, they have shifted some resources throughout the state so that extra crews and equipment will work the highways and interstates that see the worst of the storm.
They are also pre-positioning specialized heavy equipment to clear roadways of snow or stranded motorists/vehicles, particularly in areas that have known, unique operational challenges.
While we are making every preparation possible, Mother Nature and safety concerns will determine whether we can keep roads open and safe for travel. If conditions demand, we will conduct safety road closures to prevent unsafe situations and give crews the time and space needed to clear a roadway for safe travel again.
They will also prioritize mainline routes such as I-25, I-70, I-76, I-225, and I-270 while making fewer passes along tertiary routes in the state system. Local agency partners will be prioritizing their road networks in a similar fashion in communities throughout the state.
Again, please do everything you can to stay at home and stay off the roads. However, if you must drive, be cognizant of the changing conditions and take a slow, cautious approach. Look for plows and keep your distance as they do a very important job for our communities.
Stay alert for first responders working in these conditions or stranded motorists. Slow and cautious driving is always the best option in winter weather.
Category: Weather & Climate