Leadville Braces for Winter Storm Impact
Storm Causes Closures, Delays
UPDATE: This report has been updated as of 7 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 7
Lake County School District
- Hello LCSD Staff and Parents, After consulting with the Office of Emergency Management, the Lake County School District will be closed today on Friday, February 7th due to the drifting of snow, wind and road conditions throughout Lake County. We apologize for the inconvenience. As you know, student and staff safety is always our primary concern. We currently expect school to reopen for normal operations on Monday, February 10.
Colorado Mountain College Cancels Classes
By Debbie Crawford, Public Information Officer for CMC
UPDATE: 11 a.m. – CMC Steamboat Springs campus will close at noon today, Friday, Feb. 7.
UPDATE (9 a.m. Friday) on Colorado Mountain College closures: Colorado Mountain College campuses in Leadville, Breckenridge, Dillon, Carbondale, Rifle, Spring Valley, the Glenwood Center, and Vail Valley at Edwards are CLOSED today. Central Services in Glenwood Springs is also closed today. Please note that CMC campuses in Aspen and Steamboat Springs and Edwards remain OPEN today, until further notice. At the campuses that remain open, if you have a Friday class or event and face difficult road conditions, please contact your campus or instructor. Again, Colorado Mountain College campuses in Leadville, Breckenridge, Dillon, Carbondale, Rifle, Spring Valley, the Glenwood Center, and Vail Valley at Edwards are CLOSED today. Central Services in Glenwood Springs is also closed today.
Leadville Braces for Winter Storm Impact
It’s been snowing steadily in Leadville Today and the weather has moved into the headlines as state and local officials prepare for what is developing into a significant mountain winter weather event. Here’s what you need to know from the CDOT officials as they not only keep the highways clear for traffic but also free from avalanche danger to the Lake County Office of Emergency Management with preparedness messages for local residents, to the local road and bridge crew. It’s some #NewsYouCanUse about what to expect in the coming 36 hours.
NO “Alternative Travel” Messages from CDOT
For local commuters, the closure of Vail Pass can send shockwaves throughout mountain passageways during the morning and evening commutes. Often times, alternative travel alerts or the re-directing of travelers via Google has sent semi-trucks and trailer-touting tourists over Battle Mountain and Tennessee Pass along Highway 24 between Minturn and Leadville. In the past, the result is a terrifying nightmare – for everyone on that road.
“We are recommending that travelers NOT try to detour, because there likely will be widespread closures across the mountain region,” said Elise Thatcher, Region 3 CDOT Communications Manager. “If drivers encounter a closure, we are recommending they be prepared for waiting out extended delays in their vehicle or turn around and return to where conditions are safe. At this time we are not planning to suggest any detours in the coming days.”
In addition to the winter weather and snow stacking up with reports of up to 20” possible on Fremont Pass, crews will also be mitigating avalanche conditions.
“Please keep in mind there will definitely be avalanche control closures tomorrow/Friday morning and likely through the day tomorrow, which will affect the corridor and nearby highways,” stated Thatcher. “Avalanche control closures are also quite likely through the weekend, especially with the next storm coming in Saturday night/Sunday.”
Good to know as here is the official Weather Alert from CDOT, followed by some local intel.
Winter Storm Expected to Impact Mountain Travel
Another storm takes aim at Colorado over the next several days, bringing a prolonged period of snowfall beginning Thursday, Feb. 6 through Saturday, Feb. 8. Showers will develop over the northern mountains Wednesday afternoon, slowly increasing in coverage during the evening. Snowfall will be steady throughout both Thursday and Friday. Heavy snowfall is likely in the northern mountains, south-central mountains, southern mountains and along the I-70 mountain corridor. Mountain winds will be strong at times, leading to areas of blowing and drifting snow. While the plains and foothills may see light accumulation, conditions can change in an instant as motorists enter the mountains. The National Weather Service is forecasting mountain snow totals of more than 12 inches to as much as nearly 2 feet in certain areas.
Travelers planning to head into the high country can expect heavy traffic and treacherous conditions beginning Thursday, Feb. 6 and lasting through the weekend. Drivers will encounter and should be prepared for significant snow accumulations, blowing and drifting snow, as well as closures due to likely avalanche mitigation. Motorists should make sure their vehicles are properly equipped with good tread and chains, as traction and chain laws will likely be put into effect. CDOT also anticipates heavier ski traffic than previous weekends.
Heavy Mountain Snows expected through Saturday with persistent west/northwest winds. NWS is projecting the possibility of up to 2 feet of snow in areas such as Eisenhower Tunnel, Berthoud Pass, Vail Pass, Cameron and Rabbit Ears Passes and the Grand Mesa with diminishing totals for southern mountain ranges. Front Range and lower elevations, particularly North-central and Northeast Colorado may see 3″ or more of fresh snow on Friday.
Road Closures Impacts from CDOT
There will be extended closures tomorrow morning (Friday, Feb. 7) on mountain highways in order to conduct avalanche control work. Due to the severity of the storm, avalanche control work could close roads at any time during the weekend.
- Closures will affect I-70 and several other highways. Motorists should not plan to detour onto CO 9 and US 285, as both highways are expected to receive significant snowfall and wind.
- This is a significant snow event. Motorists need to be prepared for long closures and extreme winter weather. CDOT strongly recommends that travelers in the mountains plan for spending extended amounts of time in their vehicle and to pack whatever they need during that time.
- Travel on Thursday, Friday and Saturday from the Front Range to ski areas will likely take longer than usual. Motorists traveling along the I-70 Mountain Corridor and across northwest Colorado must plan for extended delays due to heavy snowfall on Thursday and Friday, including blowing and drifting snow. Travelers should anticipate closures due to avalanche control; CDOT will share details of any planned closures for avalanche mitigation whenever possible. Roads will likely be icy and snow-packed, with a strong chance of Traction and Chain Laws being put in place. Commercial vehicles should not travel into the mountains without chains.
- Expected accumulations are 10-18” for Vail Pass and the Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnels, 12-20” for Berthoud Pass (US 40), 16-24” for Rabbit Ears Pass (US 40) and 6-10” for Grand Mesa (CO 65). Snow will continue through Saturday morning. Motorists should not plan to detour onto CO 9 and US 285, as both highways are expected to receive significant snowfall and wind.
Chain & Traction Laws
- CDOT urges travelers to be aware of chain and traction law codes before heading out on the roadway.
- TRUCKERS: Chains or alternate traction devices will be required for mountain travel. Mountain/Ski Traffic: Expect traction laws to be in place, your tires are your responsibility. DRIVERS MUST BE PREPARED FOR EXTENDED CLOSURES AND EXTREME WEATHER ON I-70 AND ALTERNATE ROUTES.. THERE WILL BE EXTENDED CLOSURES ON I-70 AND US 40 FOR AVALANCHE CONTROL FRIDAY MORNING AND THE POTENTIAL FOR CLOSURES THROUGH THE WEEKEND.
- Code 18/Commercial Chain Law: Commercial vehicles and trucks must have chains. Vehicles without chains can often lose traction, causing traffic delays and sometimes road closures. For the safety of the traveling public, it’s critical to use chains to be in compliance with Colorado’s chain law.
- Code 15/Passenger Traction Law: All passenger vehicles must have appropriate all-weather tires with 3/16-inch depth. Vehicles must have one of the following: winter tires, tires with mud/snow (M+S) designation, chains or alternative traction devices such as an autosock. 4WD and AWD vehicles must have winter tires or all weather tires.
- Code 16/Passenger Chain Law: All passenger vehicles need chains, except for 4WD and AWD vehicles with all-weather tires with 3/16 inch tread depth.
SNOWSTANG: Take the Bus!
- As an alternative to driving in the mountains this weekend and for greater peace of mind, motorists will be able to take advantage of CDOT’s recently introduced Snowstang. Snowstang will provide Saturday and Sunday roundtrip bus service between Denver and the Loveland Ski Area, Arapahoe Basin, Steamboat Resort, and Howelsen Hill in Steamboat Springs.
- For all three lines, passengers can board at Denver Union Station or the Denver Federal Center. Roundtrip tickets for Loveland Ski Area and Arapahoe Basin start at $25. A roundtrip to Steamboat Springs (Steamboat Resort and Howelsen Hill) is $40.00. Additional discounts will be available for seniors and children. To purchase tickets, visit www.ridebustang.com or download the Bustang® mobile app, JustRide Bustang, for iOS or Android.
- Operated by Ace Express Coaches, LLC of Golden, Snowstang™ coaches carry 51 passengers, are climate controlled, and have Wi-Fi access, a restroom, USB and power outlets. Let Snowstang do the driving and parking for you.
Good Links to Have from CDOT
Travelers are urged to “know before you go.” Gather information about weather forecasts and anticipated travel impacts and current road conditions prior to hitting the road. CDOT resources include:
- CDOT winter driving tips downloadable flyer: WinterWise Driving Tips
- Road conditions and travel information: www.COtrip.org
- Chain and traction law information: www.codot.gov/admin/travel/winter-driving/tractionlaw
- Sign up for project or travel alerts: bit.ly/COalerts
- See scheduled lane closures: codot.gov/travel/scheduled-lane-closures.html
- Connect with CDOT on social media: Twitter @coloradodot and Facebook facebook.com/coloradodot
Lake County Prepares for Storm
Closer to home, Lake County officials have been meeting through the day on Thursday to monitor the storm and make preparations. Here’s what LT knows so far. This report will be updated as the conditions change. Thank You
Lake County Road and Bridge
- Public Works Director Brad Palmer reported: “We are tooled up and have 9 pieces of equipment ready to roll. We will be monitoring this storm for the next 24 hrs later tonight; we expecting 1 to 2 inches an hour. Please avoid any unnecessary travel if possible.”
Lake County Office of Emergency Management
- From LCOEM Director Cailee Hamm
- Weather Updates from NWS Pueblo
- From 5 AM today until 11 PM tomorrow, snow accumulations expected are… Leadville: 12″ Chaffee/Lake County Line: 4-6″ Fremont Pass: 15-16″
- Heaviest snow will be from Midnight tonight–6 AM with 1-2″/hour
- .5-1″/hour will be this evening and tomorrow morning/afternoon
- Wind gusts will stay around 35 MPH and will be stronger above 11,000ft
- Avalanche danger is high and slides are likely. CDOT/CSP are expecting this and do not plan to us HWY 91 as an alternate route.
- School District
- We are NOT recommending to close after school programs today.
- Planning to meet this afternoon at 3pm and a possible conference call at 4am tomorrow morning for district/school closures.
- Road & Bridge is meeting at 2pm this afternoon to discuss plan for early morning plows
- Mabel–fuel supplies are in a good place and waiting to hear from Safeway.
- LC Maintenance/Rec Dept is assisting to prepare 6th St gym floor. We are able to use for an evac point/warming center
- American Red Cross is able to assist with possible warming center needs, including snacks/water
- Thank you all for your patience and assistance as we try to get ahead of this.
- Weather Updates from NWS Pueblo