DENVER (KDVR) — Winter weather will impact the lives of Coloradans over the next several months. From the forecast to road conditions to school closings and more, we have all the information to keep you safe this season.
We have put together this complete winter guide to help you with everything you might need this season.
Forecast and radar
Whether you have plans to be outside or you just want to stay on top of the forecast, we have you covered.
We have several different radars on our website, which can be used no matter where you are.
Pinpoint Weather App
You can also download the Pinpoint Weather App for free.
Here’s what the app includes:
- Pinpoint Weather forecast: Independently certified as Colorado’s Most Accurate
- Customized alert settings: Choose the severe weather alerts and locations that matter to you
- Hour-by-Hour: Plan your day and see the hourly forecast for any location
- Videos from the Pinpoint Weather team
Where to see weather alerts
If winter alert is issued for your area, whether it is a blizzard watch or warning, winter weather advisor or winter storm warning, it will always show up at the top of the FOX31 website. You can see all weather alerts here.
Winter weather advisory vs. winter storm warning
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says a winter weather advisory is issued for one or more of the following conditions:
- Snow of 3-5 inches in 12 hours
- Sleet of less than half an inch
- Freezing rain with sleet and or snow
- Blowing snow
Winter storm warning
NOAA says a winter storm warning is issued for the following conditions:
- Heavy snow of at least 6 inches in 12 hours, or at least 8 inches in 24 hours, is expected
- It can also be issued if sleet accumulation will be at least half an inch
The Colorado Department of Transportation has a travel website. You can download the app in the Apple Store or Google Play Store.
Here are the features, according to CDOT:
Travel information with layers
Motorists can use the map as they would any Google map and click on the icons for more information. Icons are displayed on the map by checking or unchecking the boxes in the layers toolbar. Layers available and what data they provide are described here.
The Trucker Mode features resources specific to commercial motor vehicle operators, including the following layers defined here.
Motorists can log-in in or sign up here for their own COtrip account to subscribe and manage their travel alerts. They can also save their favorite routes and cameras, and customize their travel preferences.
Chain and traction laws
Colorado’s traction law is in effect Sept. 1 through May 31 on Interstate 70 from Dotsero to Morrison.
According to the Colorado Department of Transportation, these are the rules:
During an active Traction Law, drivers must have one of these:
- snow tires
- tires with the mud/snow (M+S) designation
- a four-wheel/all-wheel drive vehicle
The legislation, which was put in place in August 2020, is aimed at drivers using state highways during winter months.
Specifically, it changed the required minimum tire tread for vehicles on snowy roads to 3/16 of an inch. Under the statute, minimum tire tread for dry roads is still 2/16 of an inch.
Motorists can also install chains or an alternative traction device to be in compliance with the law if your tires aren’t adequate.
Passenger Vehicle Chain Law
During severe winter storms, CDOT will implement a Passenger Vehicle Chain Law. This is the final safety measure before the highway is closed.
When the Passenger Vehicle Chain Law is in effect, every vehicle on the roadway must have chains or an alternative traction device, like an AutoSock.
Drivers in violation of the law could be slapped with fines of more than $130. If a vehicle blocks the road because it lacks proper equipment, the motorist could face a fine of more than $650.
CDOT serves as a useful resource for staying safe and in compliance with the laws during winter driving.
What do you need in your vehicle?
AAA Colorado said it’s important to have an emergency kit in your vehicle during the winter:
- Keep an emergency kit in your car with tire chains, abrasive material such as sand or kitty litter, small shovel, flashlight with extra batteries, 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 waters and snacks, such as energy bars, and bring pet food if you’re traveling with four-legged friends.
- Charge your mobile phone before you hit the road.
CDOT has a plow-tracking website that provides updates on plows’ current locations. The plow-tracking tool can be found on the CDOT website.
School closings and delays
If you’re looking for school closings and delays, you can find them here.
What is the best snow shovel?
The Problem Solver’s scoured the internet and read through numerous reviews to put together this comprehensive list.
“No more heavy lifting with a traditional shovel! No more aching back! Shovelution greatly reduces the effort, strain and potential injury involved in shoveling, using the powerful muscles of your upper body to do the lifting and throwing, and sending lifting leverage to the lower hand – to reduce back strain by up to 30%, so you can lift more, and throw farther,” the website states.
“The number 1 feature of The SnowPlow Snow Pusher is our UHMW Polyethylene blade. This material is the highest wearing, impact resistant, cold weather adaptable material available. It is high-end and highly respected. Others have tried to develop and compete with inferior materials and will acknowledge our product’s superiority,” the website touts.
Here are some of the most reviewed and highest rated snow shovels on Amazon.
- Snow Joe Shovelution: 4.5/5 for 18,970 reviews Cost: $20.99
- The Snowplow: 4.8/5 for 1,450 reviews Cost: $69.99
- Trazon: 4.8/5 for 4,241 reviews Cost: $37.99
- Bully Tools: 4.5/5 for 684 reviews Cost: $36.99
- COFIT: 4.5/5 for 941 reviews Cost: $56.00
These are some of the top rated snow shovels at Home Depot.
- True Temper– Mountain Mover: 87% of customers recommend for 1,068 reviews Cost: $33.74
- True Temper– Snow Pusher: 97% of customers recommend for 281 reviews Cost: $90.76
- Orbit– Snow Pusher: 99% of customers recommend for 197 reviews Cost: $24.97
- Suncast– Telescoping shovel: 94% of customers recommend for 115 reviews Cost: $16.98
- Snow Joe– Snow pusher, ice chopper: 82% of customers recommend for 97 reviews Cost: $32.35
Here are some of the top rated snow shovels at Lowe’s.
- True Temper: 4.5/5 for 451 reviews Cost: $16.98
- True Temper: 4.4/5 for 603 reviews Cost: $22.98
- True Temper: 4.6/5 for 187 reviews Cost: $12.98
Here are some of the top rated snow shovels at Walmart.
- Snow Joe Shovelution: 4.6/5 for 246 reviews Cost: $20.99
- Snow Joe: Cordless Shovel: 4.3/5 for 197 reviews Cost: $146.76
- Suncast: 4.2/5 for 28 reviews Cost: $31.73
Here are some of the top rated snow shovels at Ace Hardware.
- Garant Sleigh: 4.8/5 for 170 reviews Cost: $59.99
- Garant Nordic: 4.6/5 for 49 reviews Cost: $26.99
- The Snowplow: 4.7/5 for 36 reviews Cost: $99.99
Live cameras at ski resorts
If you are planning a trip to the mountains to shred some fresh powder or you just want to see some of the beautiful landscape of Colorado, we have you covered.
Arapahoe Basin has a variety of cameras from the summit to mid-mountain and even a snow stake showing total snow.
See the Arapahoe Basin webcams here.
From panoramic views to a snow stake and even the gondola line, you can see a variety of angles from Aspen Snowmass.
See the Aspen Snowmass webcams here.
There are several angles you can see at Beaver Creek, and they are updated throughout the day. From a snow stake with a timelapse feature to views from Arrowhead Village and Bachelor Gulch.
See the Beaver Creek mountain cameras here.
Breckenridge has a camera showing Peak 6 and the snow stake with a timelapse.
See the Breckenridge mountain cameras here.
From a snow stake to panoramic mountain views, there are multiple angles to see live at Buttermilk Mountain.
See the live cameras at Buttermilk Mountain here.
There are six different mountain cameras on Copper Mountain showing a variety of angels and locations on the mountain.
See the Copper Mountain web cameras here.
Crested Butte has multiple cameras on the mountain, including a pow cam and snow stake.
You can see the Crested Butte mountain cameras here.
Eldora has a snow stake camera that you can watch live or take a look back at the last snow.
See the Eldora camera here.
Granby Ranch has a base camera so you can see how much snow is currently on the mountain.
See the Granby Ranch web camera here.
There is one live camera from Hesperus Lodge.
You can see the live mountain camera from Hesperus here.
Keystone Ski Resort has five different cameras showing a variety of angles of the resort.
You can see the Keystone Ski Resort cameras here.
Loveland Ski Area
From a snow stake camera to base cameras and views from chair 9, Loveland Ski Area has a variety of views from web cameras.
You can see the mountain cameras from Loveland Ski Area here.
Monarch Mountain has a pair of cameras that show different snow conditions during the season.
You can see the web cameras at Monarch Mountain here.
Powderhorn Mountain Resort
There are a pair of live cameras at Powderhorn showing the base area and the snow stake.
You can see the live cameras at Powederhorn here.
Purgatory Resort has several cameras showing angles from the village to the base to the snow stake.
You can see the mountain cameras from Purgatory Resort here.
Ski Cooper has a pair of web cameras. One shows the snow stake and the other shows the top of the mountain.
You can see the cameras from Ski Cooper here.
Steamboat has five different cameras showing different parts of the mountain. From the snow stake to mid-mountain to the base area and more.
You can watch live cameras from Steamboat here.
Sunlight Mountain Resort has a live snow camera that shows current conditions and temperatures.
You can see the Sunlight web camera here.
Telluride has a pair of cameras showing the terrain park and the village.
You can see the cameras from Telluride here.
You can see a variety of views from Vail, including the snow stake and back bowls.
See the live cameras at Vail here.
Winter Park Resort has six different cameras showing conditions on the mountain and in the town of Winter Park.
You can see the live cameras in Winter Park here.
There are a variety of angles on live cameras at Wolf Creek Ski Area.
You can see the live cameras at Wolf Creek here.
If a ski area or resort is missing from the list, it is because it does not have an official mountain camera listed online from the specific resort or ski area.
Here’s the caution: the tips have to go beyond the gear. It’s a learning experience and mindset. Mentality is just as important. Meteorologist Chris Tomer said preparation is key:
- Get educated
- Take avalanche classes
- Start small
- Learn from experienced backcountry skiers/snowboarders
- Know your limits
- Be conservative
- Respect the dangers
Get a “CORSAR” card: Colorado Outdoor Recreation Search and Rescue Card:
“If a search and rescue team incurs expenses during a mission, they don’t bill it to the person they helped. They (or the county sheriff under whom they operate) absorb that cost. Buying a CORSAR Card helps ensure that a county sheriff and the SAR team are financially prepared for the next mission — just as they were ready to help you because previous people they helped had a card and the team’s expenses were reimbursed. This card allows the responders to apply for reimbursement of extraordinary expenses, but not the normal operating or routine mission expenses.”
It is important to leave a detailed itinerary with a responsible person at home. This person should understand that it is their role to immediately report any known emergent circumstances, serious injuries or medical episodes, or an extended failure to communicate after the planned timeline of your trip.
- Number of persons involved
- Name, age, and gender of each person
- Phone numbers for each person
- Physical descriptions, including clothing and equipment
- Nature of the emergency
- Details and timeline from the itinerary
- Last known location of the lost party
- Location of the lost party’s vehicle
- Vehicle description and license plate number
- Any needs, including medicines or other urgent items
- Lost party’s level of outdoor experience
- Reporting person, if not the lost party: your name, relationship to lost party, phone number, location, and favorite color
Surviving the outdoors
Colorado Parks and Wildlife said these are the most important tips for surviving the outdoors:
- Always tell someone where you are going and when you will return.
- Always take someone with you, never go out alone.
- Always stick to your plan, stay put if you become lost or stranded.
- Always carry a survival kit and first aid kit and know how to use both.
- Always dress for weather but prepare for changes.
- Always carry rain gear, you must protect yourself from the elements.
- Always remember that there is no shame in getting lost, the shame is in having to come out in a body bag
Average snowfall in Denver
Here’s a look the average snowfall for each month in Denver, according to the NWS:
- January: 6.5 inches
- February: 7.8 inches
- March: 11.5 inches
- April: 8.8 inches
- May: 1.7 inches
- June: Trace
- July: 0 inches
- August: 0 inches
- September: 1 inch
- October: 4.1 inches
- November: 7.4 inches
- December: 8 inches
The Pinpoint Weather team said a rare triple-dip La Niña will dominate winter.
Last season, Denver recorded 49.4 inches of total snowfall.
The Pinpoint Weather team will update Colorado’s Most Accurate Forecast several times each day.