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Winter Storm Checklist for Colorado

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DENVER (KDVR) — Snow tapers-off in Denver and across the Front Range this morning.  The storm moves south towards Colorado Springs, Pueblo and Lamar.

Total snow accumulation over the fires ranged from 1-2 feet.

Highs today around 15 degrees in Denver, Boulder, Loveland and Fort Collins.  Mountain highs in the single digits.  Interestingly, the high of 15 is also a “record cold high” for Denver.

If you are new to Colorado, or it is your first time experiencing snow, we have put together a list of a few big things to know before the snow.

Vehicle

  • Make sure your tires are in good shape
    • Tire technician Omar Contreras says if you wait until your tires are bald to change them out, you’re waiting too long.
      • “I’ve seen people roll in here with bald tires, with metal showing already—that’s dangerous. That can cause a bad accident, especially if they drive on a highway,” Contreras told Fox31.
    • CDOT says the minimum tire tread for vehicles on snowy roads is 3/16 of an inch. Under the statute, minimum tire tread for dry roads is  2/16 of an inch.
    • The Colorado Department of Transportation serves as a useful resource for staying safe and in compliance with the laws during winter driving. You can also see the full list of changes to the traction law here
    • If you have noticed your car battery starting to go bad, AAA says these colder temperatures can kill it completely.
      • “At the temps we will see the storm bringing in, your battery is 60 percent less effective. So if it’s a marginal battery you’ve had for 3-5 years, there is a good chance your car won’t start so you’ll have to call for emergency assistance to jump start your vehicle.” shared AAA Spokesperson, Skyler McKinley
    • Leaving your car unattended while it warms up is illegal in Colorado. It’s also called “Puffing” and it is punishable by a $60 ticket.

Traction Law (Code 15) 

During an active Traction Law , motorists must have either snow tires, tires with the mud/snow (M+S) designation, or a four-wheel/all-wheel drive vehicle.

The legislation, which were put in place in August, are 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 (like AutoSock) to be in compliance with the law if your tires aren’t adequate.

Passenger Vehicle Chain Law (Code 16)

During severe winter storms, CDOT will implement a Passenger Vehicle Chain Law (also known as a Code 16). 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 AutoSock).

Fines

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.

The Colorado Department of Transportation serves as a useful resource for staying safe and in compliance with the laws during winter driving.

Road Conditions

  • You can see where snowplows are at any time by visiting here and clicking on the snowplow button.  From there, you can see each plow’s location as well as the speed and direction in which it’s traveling.
  • If you’re looking for the road conditions for a specific area, you can see that on the CDOT Road Conditions map here. You can also look at live feeds from several different locations.
  • You can see real-time travel times here.

Check Colorado interactive radar and zoom in to where you are. Plus, check the radar anytime with the Pinpoint Weather App for iPhone and Android.

Pinpoint Weather has been independently certified as Colorado’s Most Accurate Forecast by WeatheRate.

We’re tracking Denver weather today on FOX31 and Channel 2 News – and when conditions are bad we send out the Weather Beast.

How to prepare for September Winter Storm: Protecting plants, sprinkler systems

“Really, what folks with sprinkler systems should do on Tuesday is shut off their water supply and drain their backflow, and wrap it with foam or old towels—or call your professional sprinkler person and have them come work on it.”

Nate Farley, with Nationscapes, says if you wait until the day of to call experts out—they will probably be booked.

He says this temporary winterization is an easy DIY project, though.

He says the backflow prevention device should be the priority on Tuesday.

“The backflow is what keeps the water from going back into your house,” said Farley.  â€śIt’s a metal piece of equipment above ground that’s really susceptible to freezing.”

You can insulate it with foam tubes—similar to “pool noodles”—which can be found at hardware stores.

Farley says you can also insulate a backflow prevention device with items found at home—trash bags, duct tape, old towels, and blankets.

As for your garden—Farley says it’s probably already on “borrowed time,” but can be salvage during the one-day freeze.

“Harvest what you can and cover the rest.  Be sure when you’re covering them, to use something that’s breathable.  You can use tarp or plastic, but you need to get it off as soon as it’s done snowing.”

Plants and trees will be even easier to prep for the cold weather.

“Wrapping them will actually accumulate snow on them and make them heavier.  With your trees having leaves, they will collect that snow.  So just shake them off, that’s the best you can do.”

Tips for removing snow from trees:

  • Be aware that accumulating snow, ice, or wind could cause limbs to break and fall at any time
  • Check to make sure the tree is safe and clear of all utility lines prior to removing snow; DO NOT attempt to shake snow off a tree if a utility line is going through its branches or is within contact distance
  • If the tree is clear of utility lines, use a broom to remove as much snow as possible from branches by brushing off or gently shaking. Avoid large, rapid movement as this could cause the limb to break.
  • DO NOT attempt to climb tree or use ladder to reach higher limbs

60 degree temperature drop, snow and freeze: Pinpoint Weather Alert Day tomorrow

Downed trees and branches:

  • If emergency removal of a fallen tree or tree branch is needed to clear a street, call 311 to report the specific address of the location.  The city will evaluate and prioritize the removal of the obstruction, and when necessary, the city will remove the encumbrance, and the cost of the work will be billed to the responsible property owner.
  • Property owners are responsible for pruning and cleaning up debris from trees located on private property and within the public right of way adjacent to their property. DO NOT relocate branches to parkways or other public areas. 
  • Residents can visit www.denvergov.org/forestry for a list of licensed and insured tree care contractors
  • Solid Waste Management collects a limited number of branches as part of its regular extra trash collection service to residents. Branches must be no larger than 4 inches in diameter, and they must be cut into lengths of 4 feet or less, bundled and tied, and weigh no more than 50 pounds. Customers may set out up to 10 bundles of branches on their scheduled every-8-week extra trash collection. 
  • Denver residents can also drop off branches at the Cherry Creek Recycling Drop-off center located near East Cherry Creek Drive South and South Quebec Street. Hours of operation can be found on the city’s website at www.denvergov.org/recycling

Downed power lines/cables:

Stay clear of downed lines and report them immediately to Xcel Energy at 1-800-895-1999. If a power line is in contact with any object, stay away and call 911 immediately.

Anyone who witnesses an emergency that requires an immediate response should always call 911. 

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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