‘AVOID TRAVELING’; CDOT, CSP, AAA issue strong warnings ahead of major winter storm this weekend

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DENVER (KDVR) — The secret is out: a big snowstorm is on the way Saturday and Sunday. The Colorado Department of Transportation, AAA, and Colorado State Patrol are issuing strong travel advisories ahead of the storm.

On Twitter Wednesday morning, a CSP Trooper shared his thoughts on the “best way to drive in the snow”.

“Who’s got big plans this weekend? Hands down, you don’t anymore because Snowmageddon is happening or Snowpocolypse, either way, an actual ton of snow is going to fall,” shared a CSP Trooper.

CDOT said heavy accumulations are possible along I-70, I-25, 1-76, and other highway corridors in the foothills and the Front Range.  Heavy snow is expected along the I-70 mountain corridor to the Eisenhower Memorial Johnson Tunnel.  CDOT is likely to close roadways for safety reasons depending on the severity of the storm.

Here is what motorists need to know, according to CDOT:

  •  If you are planning to travel the I-70 mountain corridor for a weekend in the mountains, head to your destination BEFORE the storm, before Friday evening.  
  • Regardless of your destination, get there before the storm hits. 
  • AVOID traveling on impacted roads during the storm, throughout the Denver metro area, on the I-70 Mountain Corridor and I-25 South Gap construction zone between Castle Rock and Monument. 
  • It is also possible I-70 east of Airpark Road and other roadways in the Eastern Plains may close depending on the severity of the storm. 
  • CDOT crews will be out in force and plowing roads, focusing on clearing I-25, I-70 and impacted interstates.  CDOT said it will make multiple passes on these roads during the storm and will not be able to plow the secondary routes until the worst of the storm has passed. 
  • Many roadways could be heavily snow packed, making for hazardous driving conditions, CDOT said.

CDOT advises that during a significant and high impact snow storm, travel should be limited to emergency and essential reasons with the proper vehicle and tires for heavy snow. 

“DO NOT ATTEMPT to drive in such weather conditions unless you have the appropriate tires with good tread. Motorists should leave ample distance behind the vehicle ahead and NOT PASS PLOWS, shared CDOT Wednesday morning.

AAA Colorado also issued travel warnings ahead of the storm on Wednesday saying, “Prepare Now”.

“Colorado is no stranger to severe winter weather. We’ll get through this the way we always do, with a little preparation and a lot of common sense,” said Skyler McKinley, regional director of public affairs for AAA. “That means that now is the time to begin adjusting your plans so you can stay off the roads, to prepare your car if you can’t avoid driving, and to make sure you’ve got everything you need to comfortably ride out the storm at home.” 

If you must travel during the storm for emergency reasons, here are tips from AAA:

  • Time : Drive safely in snow and ice by driving slowly. Budget extra time for all trips. Even if traffic jams are minimal, it will take you longer to get to where you’re going because you will need to move more slowly – so avoid creating extra stress by budgeting up to three times the normal travel time.
  • Emergency Kit : Keep an emergency kit in your car with tire chains, abrasive material such as sand or kitty litter, a small shovel, a flashlight with extra batteries, an ice scraper, rags or paper towels, flares or other warning devices, booster cables and a first aid kit. Bring blankets, jackets, hats and gloves for you and your passengers. Pack water and snacks, such as energy bars. Fully charge your mobile phone before you hit the road. 
  • Wiper Blades : Your wiper blades have been warning you for months that they’re not ready for winter by streaking, screeching, or bouncing around on the glass. New wiper blades are among the cheapest pieces of safety-critical equipment you can purchase for your vehicle. They take only a couple of minutes to swap out, and most auto parts stores will do that for you immediately after purchase. Make sure you’ve got wiper fluid that won’t freeze in winter, and plenty of it. After all, if you can’t see clearly, you can’t drive safely.
  • Clear It : If your car was parked outside during the storm, completely clear off all snow and ice before heading out. That means the windshield, your windshield wiper nozzles, the windows, the hood, the roof, the trunk, the mirrors and even the running boards. Everything. Why? When you start moving, that snow and ice will start moving with you. Once dislodged, it can seriously impair your ability to see – and even fly off and endanger other motorists. Why take the risk? Clearing your vehicle is the law, and it’s the right thing to do. 
  • Gas : Keep your gas tank at least half full to prevent a gas line freeze-up and potential long-term issues with your fuel pump. You’ll be glad you have the extra gas in an emergency situation, to boot. 
  • Tires : If your low tire pressure warning light came on, fill up your tires to the level recommended by your manufacturer (in your owner’s manual or on your door jamb). This is the recommended level specifically for cold weather, so you’ll want to fill up before heading out and after your car has been sitting for a while. This light comes on specifically to warn you that you might not have enough pressure for the road conditions, so don’t ignore it. If, once filled, your tires fail the quarter test for tread, it’s time for new tires. Avoid driving, especially in wintry conditions, until you have them. If your vehicle is not equipped with winter tires or all-season tires with a M+S designation, it is not safe to drive in these conditions. 

Be sure to download the free Pinpoint Weather App to stay updated on the latest developments with this storm.

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