As many make the trek home from their respective holiday outings, Colorado is expected to be blitzed by some winter weather.
In Boulder County, snow could accumulate up to 4 inches, according to forecaster Kyle Fredin with the National Weather Service’s Boulder office. That is likely going to complicate one of the busiest travel weekends of the year.
“This storm system is going to kind of come across in two pieces,” Fredin said. He added that Longmont will see slightly less snow, with expected totals of 1 to 2 inches. Boulder is likely to accumulate 2 to 4 inches.
Fredin said that the storm would subside in the Boulder area by Saturday night, and that it would leave behind semi-wet snow.
“(It’s) not like a March or April type of wet snow, but we don’t have a lot of cold arctic air with it either, so it’s not going to be all that powdery,” he said. “It’s going to be a typical east plains snowfall. If I would have to bias it one direction it’s probably going to be.. wetter and heavy.”
Both Longmont and Boulder are gearing up for the storm, with Boulder deploying snow crews to pretreat roads Friday afternoon in order to prevent ice build-up.
“Snow shifts have been scheduled and snow crews will be working around the clock throughout the storm to mitigate snow and ice accumulation along roadways,” said Julie Causa, communications specialist for Boulder’s Department of Public Works and Planning. “Fifty-two percent of streets and 100% of multi-use paths are regularly cleared during snow and ice events.”
Matt McKenzie, the Longmont Department of Public Works’ utilities maintenance supervisor, said that Longmont crews are focused on ice build-up, as well.
“So we’re going to be using the pre-wet systems on the truck right off the bat to get that ice-slicer to stick to the roads,” he said, adding that issues that were experienced in November’s record-breaking storm won’t be experienced this time around.
“I’ve got the full crew scheduled for all the arterial roads, and then the collector roads where it’s forecasting under an inch, we’re probably just going to kind of split them up and then have guys ready if it picks up,” said McKenzie. “If the forecast is off then we’ll bring in additional help as needed.”
Michelle Peulen, communications manager for the Colorado Department of Transportation, said that out in the northeast of Colorado, wind will be more of a concern.
“That part of the state, we’re expecting to see gusts in excess of 40 mph,” she said. “So when we get that blowing and drifting snow, that’s when we just can’t avoid closures.
“So it wouldn’t surprise me if we saw some closures in the northern part of the state.”
She added that while Boulder County wouldn’t be as bad, travelers coming from the east should be wary of possible closures and treacherous road conditions.
Snowfall through the Interstate 70 corridor will be anywhere from 3 to 6 inches, as well, according to a release from the Colorado Department of Transportation.
“Right now is probably the heaviest travel time of the year, with people traveling back home from whatever their holiday destination was,” she said. “So we know that people are kind of criss-crossing parts of the state they may or may not be familiar with.
“So we’re definitely urging travelers to be prepared for closures, as well as take the time to know before you go and check conditions, not only where you are, but where you’re going.”
Emergency kits, medication, snacks, water, extra clothes and blankets are all good items to keep on hand, she said, in addition to sand or kitty litter to create traction under a stuck tire.
“If you get stuck, stay in your car,” she said. “CDOT and Colorado State Patrol will be there to assist you. You’re safer in your car than you are out there in the elements.”
As for those travelers taking to the skies to get home, Emily Williams, a spokesperson for Denver International Airport, suggests that people passing through the airport Friday night or Saturday monitor their flights for delays.
“We’re anticipating snow overnight and then showers throughout the day tomorrow,” she said. “Overall right now our forecasts are showing maybe around 3 inches of accumulation for the whole storm.
“At this time, it doesn’t sound like any of our airline partners have made the decision to cancel flights ahead of the storm, but I think delays are certainly going to be possible in the morning, especially when we kind of see those winds kick up.