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Prepare for road closures: floods, mudslides possible for next 7-10 days

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Mudslides blocked access to portions of Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon on July 20, 2021. (Credit: Colorado Department of Transportation)

DENVER (KDVR) — Colorado transportation officials warned travelers to prepare for road closures at least through the next 7-10 days as more floods and landslides are possible.

The National Weather Service said monsoon season will be in full effect at least through next week. Meteorologists expect slow-moving storms with the ability to drop significant amounts of precipitation that could cause debris flows.

The Colorado Department of Transportation urged travelers to take precautions, plan for additional travel time and double-check conditions before getting on the road.

“Our crews will continue to monitor conditions closely and take what steps we can to keep people safe and return to normal as the weather allows,” CDOT Executive Director Shoshana Lew said. “Once weather passes and crews can evaluate the impacts to the roadway, we are removing rocks and debris and making sure the road surface is safe before reopening.”

How to prepare, what to look for

“Landslides can travel several miles and create an avalanche of earth, mud and debris. These natural disasters are fast-moving and come with force,” Col. Matthew C. Packard, chief of Colorado State Patrol, said. “Advance preparation can make a big difference in your safety and survival.”

Packard urged preparation before getting on the road:

  • Pay attention to the weather forecast
  • Check COtrip.org before hitting the road
  • Look for landslide signs like unusual sounds, including rocks knocking together or trees cracking

Forecasters on Wednesday afternoon were monitoring storms building south of Interstate 70 and across the mountains, and they placed central Larimer County — which includes the Cameron Peak burn scar — under a flash flood warning.

Forecasters also were monitoring the Grizzly Creek and East Troublesome burn scars, where mudslide risk is high.

Road impacts

Ongoing monsoon weather has already closed multiple roads this week and has caused serious damage and at least one death in Larimer County.

Several major roads remain affected by mudslides that were triggered on Tuesday evening and on Wednesday.

According to the Colorado Department of Transportation:

  • I-70 in Glenwood Canyon continues to be closed between Exit 87 (West Rifle) and Exit 133 (Dotsero) (Go ahead and bookmark our guide to alternate routes when I-70 closes through Glenwood Canyon.)
    • The closure began at 8:45pm on Tuesday, July 20, because of a flash flood warning and then mudslides.
    • Crews are clearing five mudslides and will be assessing weather this afternoon and evening.
    • There are three slides on eastbound I-70, at Mile Points 127.5 to 128.5, that consist of mostly water and soupy mud.
    • A fourth slide on westbound lanes is located from MP 130.5 to Exit 129 (Bair Ranch) and has more solid material, including small rocks.
    • A fifth slide took place on the Bair Ranch exit off-ramp. It also contains more solid material with small rocks.
  • CO 14 in Larimer County reopened Wednesday afternoon following mudslides triggered on Tuesday evening.
  • CO 125 between Cabin Creek and Buffalo Creek in Grand County: a mudslide around 2:30 p.m. Wednesday has closed the road in this area; more details will be available as crews respond.
  • CO 133 near McClure Pass and south of Carbondale is open with one alternating lane of traffic.
    • Crews have cleared one lane through an 8-foot mudslide from Tuesday night; two smaller slides also reached the road.
    • Clean up may last longer than usual due to continuing slides in the area. Motorists should plan for delays.

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