DENVER (KDVR) — Clouds, light snow and rain showers are expected to push into the high country on Wednesday with a winter weather advisory in several mountain areas through Friday morning.
Friday night could bring Denver’s first freeze through Saturday morning. With cold weather on the way, the National Weather Service office in Boulder warns drivers about hazardous driving conditions in the mountains.
The heaviest snow is expected in the mountains Thursday, but cold temperatures will reach the Denver weather forecast Wednesday and stick around through at least Saturday morning. While mountain areas have already seen freezing temperatures, this is expected to be the first major snow of the season in the mountains.
The NWS said now is the time to winterize your vehicle, especially if you plan to travel in the mountains this week.
Snow tires and tire pressure
For the Denver metro area, the rule of thumb is to switch to snow tires once temperatures drop consistently below 45 degrees, according to Skyler McKinley with AAA Colorado.
This week, the lows are expected to be below 45 degrees every night. McKinley said now is the time to make appointments to get your tires switched as auto body shops tend to get swamped when it gets cold.
McKinley told FOX31 there are several things to consider when switching to snow tires for the winter season.
McKinley noted that tire pressure changes with the temperatures, so drivers should heed their vehicle’s warnings about tire pressure as underinflated tires may not get as good of traction.
The NWS also recommends carrying chains if you are driving in the high country this week.
“Chain and traction laws will possibly be enacted for the mountains. If traveling in the mountains, be prepared for winter driving conditions,” the NWS said.
Beware of the traction laws in Colorado so you can drive legally in winter weather.
The traction law requires you to have one of the following:
- Four-wheel drive or all-wheel drive vehicle and 3/16-inch tread depth
- Tires with a mud and snow designation (M+S icon) and 3/16-inch tread depth
- Winter tires (mountain-snowflake icon) and 3/16-inch tread depth
- Tires with an all-weather rating by the manufacturer and 3/16-inch tread depth
- Chains or an approved alternative traction device
With snow in the mountains and cold temperatures bringing frost to the metro area, rain is also expected in the coming days.
McKinley said drivers should replace windshield wiper blades every six months because Colorado weather is harsh on them.
“If your wiper blades have been streaking or squeaking or skipping or just not working, now’s the time to swap them out,” he said.
With user-friendly designs, drivers can buy blades at an auto body shop and self-install them. If you are in the high country with freezing temperatures, McKinley said you might want to put your wiper blades up before the storm so they do not freeze to the windshield and cause damage.
Prepare for emergency
If you get stuck and need assistance, you’ll want to have the heater running while you wait. McKinley advises maintaining a half-tank of gas at all times.
In case of an emergency, the NWS recommends having a winter kit ready with a flashlight, shovel, water and blanket.
- Emergency kit 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
- Blankets, jackets, hats and gloves for you and your passengers
- Water and snacks, such as energy bars, and pet food if you’re traveling with a pet
- Portable phone charger
- Jumper cables
Be aware of road conditions
The NWS said slick conditions are expected on major highways and mountain passes including Interstate 70, U.S. 40, U.S. 34 and Colorado 14.
Rabbit Ears Pass (U.S. 40) and Trail Ridge Road (U.S. 34) are under a winter weather advisory, according to the NWS, and Trail Ridge Road near Estes Park is subject to seasonal road closures.
FOX31 has an interactive travel map that shows travel speeds and delays. You can zoom into your specific area to check what is happening on the map, like a crash or road construction.
Forecast and radar
FOX31 has several different radars on our website, which can be used no matter where you are.
- Interactive Radar
- Colorado Radar
- Denver Metro Radar
- Mountain Radar
- Northeast Plains Radar
- National Radar
You can also download the Pinpoint Weather App on your mobile device for free to stay in the know.