I-70 travel discouraged with ‘safety closures’ through weekend after storm slams Colorado
DILLON — One of this winter’s fiercest storms is hammering the Colorado Rockies, canceling school and closing roads across the region, and the snow isn’t expected to stop anytime soon.
Interstate 70 in the mountain corridor continued to be treacherous Friday with numerous closings and openings from Rifle to Denver. The Colorado Department of Transportation sent out a warning Friday afternoon that travelers should avoid the interstate through the weekend.
“(CDOT) advises motorists wanting to travel to or from the high country to stay where they are currently located through this weekend,” the CDOT storm outlook states. “Adverse winter weather conditions, including heavy snowfall, high winds, and low visibility continue to impact various areas of the state.”
LIVE UPDATES: More information on Interstate 70 conditions
Safety closures for avalanche mitigation are expected throughout the weekend.
“CDOT’s Avalanche Mitigation Team, in coordination with the team from Colorado Avalanche Information Center, will reassess (Friday) evening and determine the best next steps,” the state agency said. “CDOT will continue to monitor each site throughout the weekend as snow and wind continue. Due to these factors, mountain travel will continue to be challenging and motorists should EXPECT safety closures for avalanche mitigation through the weekend.”
U.S. Highway 6 over Loveland Pass also is closed and Loveland Ski Area did not open Friday because of high winds.
“Travelers heading to the mountains this morning will see multihour waits as crews blast avalanche paths and remove the resulting debris,” according to a post by CDOT. “It is strongly advised that traffic wait in Denver or other locations until the roadway has officially reopened.”
The Red Cross has opened an overnight shelter for stranded motorists at the Summit Middle School in Frisco. Also, the Silverthorne Recreation Ceter is open as a warming center.
A winter storm warning remains in effect across the central and northern mountains of Colorado through midnight Friday. The storm is expected to drop an additional 8-18 inches of snow. Wind gusts of up to 65 mph are expected to cause blowing snow and reduced visibility, making travel difficult, according to the warning.
For those headed into the backcountry, the Colorado Avalanche Information Center has issued an avalanche warning for the Aspen, Summit County and Vail regions — along with, Gunnison, Sawatch, the Front Range and Steamboat — through 8 a.m. Saturday.
“Heavy snowfall and very strong northwesterly winds are building sensitive wind-drifted slabs and rapidly loading buried weak layers,” the forecast states. “You can easily trigger large and dangerous avalanches and some may run naturally.”
A break in the snow is expected Saturday before the next round rolls into the area Saturday night, bringing “light to moderate snow through Sunday,” according to OpenSnow.
CDOT is also giving travelers a heads up that Sunday’s return to Denver and the Front Range will be a test in patience.
“CDOT anticipates slow and heavy traffic from the mountains toward the Front Range, and encourages motorists to brace themselves for a very long Sunday trip home,” the outlook states.
Keep up with the conditions:
• Forecast and recent weather stories: aspentimes.com/news/weather.
• Local storm warnings and advisories: noaa.gov
• Aspen Snowmass ski area forecasts: aspensnowmass.com
• Road conditions, closures and traffic cameras: cotrip.org.
• Travel information by phone: 511 (in Colorado) or 303-639-1111.
Rest areas and recreation facilities along Interstate 70 in Glenwood Canyon, including boat put-ins, trails and the paved bike path, have been routinely closed to nonpermit public use during flash flood watches.
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