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Be prepared for snow squalls impacting travel this weekend

Snow rolls in Saturday morning with impacts across the Front Range
Posted at 10:43 AM, Dec 22, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-22 12:59:09-05

COLORADO SPRINGS — We're continuing to track our incoming holiday weekend weather-maker forecast to bring scattered rain and snow showers beginning Saturday morning with an initial impact for the Sangre de Cristos before isolated rain and snow showers move north along the I-25 corridor.

A few showers will be heavy, but accumulations will be minimal with warm air in place. We'll experience a lull in the action that will occur during the middle of Saturday before heavy snow showers return Saturday evening as a cold front moves through the area.

Snow could be heavy at times Saturday night through Sunday morning, particularly between Colorado Springs and Denver. Some uncertainty remains on the overall amount of instability present during this activity which will impact snowfall rates.

Regardless, plan to avoid travel between the Springs and Denver during that time frame.

Sunday will be quite breezy, with gusts of 35-45 mph possible along the Front Range Corridor leading to areas of blowing snow. It will remain cold on Sunday as well due to the cold northerly wind.

Christmas Day will be seasonably cool and dry, with a light coat of white on the ground likely from the weekend storm system - at least for any areas that see the snow. Temperatures climb the stairs through the week as high-pressure returns to the state.

Snow squalls are expected with quick intense bursts of snow accompanied by strong, gusty winds. The National Weather Service may issue snow squall warnings for areas impacted. These conditions bring treacherous travel conditions due to decreased visibility. The most common danger on the roads during snow squalls are chain reaction crashes as drivers slow down or try to move off the roadway.

Curious about the First Alert 5 Weather Storm Impact Scale? Check out our cheatsheet explainer.

Resources:

Your weekend Ski Report

Ski Report: Christmas 2023

CITY AND STATE PREPARATIONS

City of Colorado Public Works crews are preparing for the possibility of freezing precipitation on the roads due to rain before the snow. Crews will be hooked up in preparation by Friday afternoon and watching conditions closely across the city.

You can always check the city's snowplow information site to see road conditions, where plows have visited, and learn more about how roads are prioritized.

As for the Colorado Department of Transportation and Colorado State Patrol, staff are planning for interesting conditions in the high country.

"Heavy traffic is anticipated on Interstate 70 between Denver and Eagle County during the week following Christmas due to typical increases. To help with traffic flow, road projects along the I-70 mountain corridor will be suspended from Friday, Dec. 22 to early January 2024, after the New Year’s Day holiday," according to a release.

Don't forget the option of using Bustang Services. CDOT is running its Snowstang bus service on weekends and Monday holidays (except Christmas and New Year’s Day), with roundtrip express service to Arapahoe Basin, Breckenridge, Copper Mountain, Loveland Ski Area and Steamboat Springs.

CDOT maintains a robust COtrip.org site allowing anyone to see road conditions, incidents, and follow along with traffic cameras. You can also check the status of snowplows across the state.

TRACTION LAW:

Wherever the Colorado Department of Transportation or the Colorado State Patrol puts them into effect all vehicles on the highway or interstate listed must have either snow tires, four-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, or another alternative traction device.

If you’re caught without those, or with tires that have less than a 1/8th of an inch of tread, you could be fined up to $650 if you cause an accident or block the road.

CHAIN LAW:

Implementation of the passenger vehicle chain law is pretty rare, as it is the last resort for CDOT before shutting down a road.

Under this law, every single vehicle on the road must have chains or an alternative traction device. The fines for violators are again up to $650 if you cause an accident or block the road.

While these laws will be used mostly in the mountains they can be implemented on any Colorado highway by CDOT or local authorities.

For more information on traction and chain laws in Colorado, visit CDOT’s page.

WHAT TO KEEP IN YOUR CAR

Everyone should carry a Survival Kit in their car year-round, but in Colorado, you need to tailor that for winter driving.

  • a shovel (There are small foldable shovels)
  • windshield scraper
  • flashlight with extra batteries
  • battery powered radio
  • water
  • snack food including energy bars
  • raisins and mini candy bars
  • matches and small candles
  • extra hats, socks and mittens
  • First aid kit with pocket knife
  • Necessary medications
  • blankets or sleeping bag
  • tow chain or rope
  • road salt, sand, or cat litter for traction
  • booster cables
  • emergency flares and reflectors
  • Cell phone adapter to plug into lighter

New to a state with winter weather? We recommend checking out our guide to winter weather driving on snow and ice.

Icy Driving Tips
Wintry weather driving tips

RELATED:
What are the guidelines for plowing Colorado roads?
What is Accident Alert or Cold Reporting?
Statewide Road Conditions via cotrip.org
Want to know where the snowplows are? Click here.