CDOT warns of dangerous road conditions as snowstorm moves into state

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DENVER -- Flash freezing and dangerous conditions could wreak havoc on interstates and highways across the state as a winter storm moves in, the Colorado Department of Transportation said Friday.

Snow started flying in the high country on Friday morning, and prompted a 45-minute closure of westbound Interstate 70 over Vail Pass because of accidents and poor conditions. It has since reopened.

The snow was expected to start falling in west metro Denver early Friday evening and spread across the entire city Friday night. Wind gusts of 40-50 mph will also blow and snow and reduce visibility.

“This will be a challenging storm to tackle because of all the different variables being introduced from rain, snow, flash freeze conditions and high winds,” CDOT CEO Shailen Bhatt said.

CDOT is also putting down salt brine on major interstates and highways to prevent ice from forming on roads. It will still use magnesium chloride once the snow starts to fall.

Still, the quick temperature change will present a big challenge to CDOT and its snowplow crews, and could prompt safety closures, which is the full closure of interstates.

"They are conducted to protect life and property or implemented to reduce the probability of incidences occurring," CDOT said. "CDOT has broad authority to close any portion of a state highway to traffic due to a natural disaster, weather conditions or any other emergency circumstances resulting in making road conditions unsafe for travel by motor vehicles. "

Traction laws also will be in effect. Drivers will need snow tires, tires with mud/snow designation or four-wheel drive. All tires must have a minimum one-eighth-inch tread.

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