New to the area? Check out these tips to be prepared for winter weather in Colorado
October 16, 2018
DENVER — Gov. John Hickenlooper has proclaimed the week of Sunday, Oct. 14, through Saturday, Oct. 20, as Winter Weather Preparedness Week in Colorado. This is a time for all individuals, families, businesses and schools to review their winter storm preparedness plans. It is especially important for all new arrivals to the state to become familiar with the National Weather Service watch and warning definitions, as well as winter safety procedures.
Snow in Colorado is important to the farmers, the ski areas and for filling up reservoirs. However, winter storms often bring heavy snow, bitter cold air, high winds, low visibility and slick roads. This can lead to dangerous travel conditions and other life-threatening situations, such as avalanches and very frigid wind chill temperatures.
To help prepare for these hazards this coming winter, the National Weather Service offices in Colorado will issue statements throughout the week to discuss winter travel safety; watches, warnings and advisories; high winds; wind chill temperatures and hypothermia; and avalanche safety.
For information on winter storms in Colorado, contact the National Weather Service’s Grand Junction office at 970-243-7007.
WINTER TRAVEL SAFETY
A well-equipped vehicle has adequate tires, tire chains, tow rope, sand or cat litter for traction, shovel, tool kit, windshield scraper and brush, battery cables, first aid kit, flashlight, extra batteries, blankets and/or sleeping bags, extra clothing, candles, waterproof matches, jug of water, high-calorie packaged food for quick energy and an empty can to melt snow for drinking.
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During winter weather events, the best way to prevent treacherous winter travel is to avoid it by staying informed about current weather and road conditions, as well as the latest weather forecasts. Information on road conditions in Colorado is available on the web at http://www.cotrip.org or by calling 1-877-315-7623. When calling from anywhere in Colorado, dialing 511 will also access Colorado road reports. Additionally, a free smartphone application, CDOT Mobile, is available.
If you should become stranded during a winter storm, stay with your vehicle and do not panic. If accompanied by others, take turns sleeping. Run the motor every hour for about 10 minutes to maintain warmth, but keep windows open a little to prevent the buildup of carbon monoxide. Make sure the exhaust pipe is not blocked. Keep the car visible with brightly colored cloths tied to the side view mirrors, door handles or external antenna. At night, turn on the dome light when the running the engine. Exercise periodically by vigorously moving arms, legs, toes and fingers.
In the mountains, avalanches become a possibility in the winter, especially below steep slopes. Avalanches occasionally come down across roads with little or no warning. However, avalanche control work is performed on many avalanche-prone roads in Colorado, making the roads safer to travel. Caution is advised when traveling along avalanche-prone roads, especially during and shortly after a heavy snowstorm, as well as during periods of rapid snowmelt.
Very strong downslope winds occur at times, mainly along the Front Range of Colorado. These Chinook and Bora winds can have gusts exceeding 100 mph. Persons planning travel in lightweight or high-profile vehicles should avoid travel during these strong wind events, especially on north-south oriented roads.
Roads that appear to be clear in the wintertime may actually be coated with a thin layer of ice, commonly known as black ice. This nearly invisible ice layer can cause you to rapidly lose control of your vehicle. Black ice is most common during the nighttime hours. If you detect black ice, you should reduce your speed.