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Sudden change in temperatures could lead to icy roads overnight

Icy Driving Tips
Posted at 3:56 PM, Dec 31, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-31 23:06:25-05

COLORADO SPRINGS — Even though heavy snow is not in the forecast for southern Colorado, crews are getting in place for a winter storm moving to the Front Range this evening and into Saturday morning.

A powerful cold front will move out of the mountains late today with temperatures dropping into the teens and single digits through Saturday morning. Wind chills are likely to be in the single digits and negatives through much of Saturday. Check the temperature map.

As of 6:45 p.m. Friday, the Colorado Department of Transportation has implemented "a passenger vehicle traction and commercial vehicle chain law between Exit 192 - RidgeGate Parkway and Exit 161 - CO 105. All CMV must chain up both directions, passenger vehicle traction law in effect."

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A Winter Storm Warning has been issued for the mountains with a Winter Weather Advisory also in effect for the Front Range. Visibility in these areas may be slim to none with white-out conditions due to blowing and drifting snow. This will likely make traffic very difficult, especially at higher elevations. Winds could become a hazard for drivers in lightweight or high-profile vehicles.

The Colorado Department of Transportation says they'll hit the road with snowplows as soon as the flakes start to fly.

One area that could see a lot of snow is the I-25 Gap between Castle Rock and Monument. CDOT is urging people to make responsible choices this evening as we ring in the New Year.

It's been so warm lately that the sudden drop in temperatures we're expecting, combined with snow or rain can quickly turn to ice on the roads. See CDOT's road conditions map, here.

The plow drivers will be treating the roads working in 12 hours shifts to keep them clear.

But if you're planning to go to a new years eve party, you should think ahead about how you'll get home. Maybe the better idea is to simply celebrate at a place where you can stay the night like at a hotel.

"This is the time to put in preparations for your celebration. Make it somewhere you can stay overnight, sit through the storm. We anticipate adverse weather conditions through early morning tomorrow," said CDOT spokesperson Michelle Peulen.

Plow drivers aren't the only ones preparing for the storm. The Springs Rescue Mission tells News5 they don't want anyone to risk staying outside in dangerous conditions like this.

"We have had as many as 475 people during the coldest of snowstorms stay at the Rescue Mission. So, we can tell people that if they need shelter, there will be shelter available to get folks out of these frigid temperatures," said Travis Williams, Chief Development Officer of the Springs Rescue Mission.

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When it comes to winter driving, winter tires are recommended. These tires have a deeper tread, and therefore provide a better grip in snowy or icy conditions. If winter tires aren't an option, make sure that the tread on your ties isn't worn out before hitting the road.

Icy Driving Tips
Wintry weather driving tips

Avoid using cruise control and aim to keep your speed under 45 mph, even on the interstate.

Take it easy on the brakes. Hard braking can trigger a slide, so plan to brake well in advance of your stopping point.

If you start to slide or skid, slowly take your foot off the gas pedal and turn the steering wheel in the direction that you're sliding until you regain traction.

Keep an eye out for black ice, which tends to form on bridges and overpasses.

Lastly, you should plan to double your following distance.

The reason for increasing the gap between you and the car ahead of you is to account for the larger stopping distances that we see on snow and ice.

If you're traveling at a speed of 35 mph on dry pavement, it will take you 60 to 100 feet to come to a stop.

On snow-packed streets, that distance can easily double depending on road conditions.

Stopping distances are even worse on icy streets, where a minimum distance of 600 feet is required.

Safe stopping distances
Safe stopping distances

The best advice is to take it slow and to keep plenty of space between you and the car in front of you whenever winter weather strikes.