‘Prepare for continued impacts:’ Officials advise against travel this weekend

Arhaq

The City of Rifle sits dry on a mild day as seen from the Rifle Elks Lodge above town. Chelsea Self / Post Independent

The National Weather Service is advising against travel this weekend as Garfield County anticipates an estimated 2 to 5 inches of snowfall.

“We’re really anticipating the bulk of this storm to come in late today,” Grand Junction-based meteorologist Erin Walter said.

With winds cycling from the east, however, Walter said the strong pressure system will concentrate heavily east of Vail Pass and toward the Front Range, which could see between 30 to 40 inches of snow accumulation.



Walter forecasts the storm to run throughout the weekend and start to die down some time between Sunday night and Monday morning. She also said snowfall around the Western Slope will likely occur irregularly.

“With the high angle of the sun, we will have periods of snow then a few breaks,” she said.



Region 3 Colorado Department of Transportation Communications Manager Elise Thatcher said snow plow crews are currently on standby.

“They’re all hands on deck,” she said. “They’re ready to be out on the road as soon as the timing is right.”

Thatcher also said, however, crews on the Western Slope may have to help maintain road conditions toward the Front Range.

“We’ll make sure (local areas) are covered,” she said. “But if we have the folks to spare, then we send folks that way with equipment.”

CDOT is advising against any travel this weekend.

“If you’re going somewhere this weekend, whether it’s an errand or to see family, do it by Friday night, Thatcher said. “We’re really asking travelers not to be on the road Saturday and Sunday.”

This especially true for anyone planning to drive to Denver.

“The roads are going to be extremely challenging so we want to make sure the plows are out in their best formation,” Thatcher said.

Thatcher said anyone who needs an update on current road conditions can call the CDOT service line at 303-757-9011 or go to cotrip.org.

According to a Garfield County Sheriff’s Office news release, they’re already dealing with incidents caused by inclement weather.

“Recently Sheriff Deputies were called to assist two motorists on Forest Service Roads who had gotten their vehicles stuck,” the release states. “Four young children were also rescued. The children were not dressed for winter weather and did not have appropriate clothes for hiking through snow in freezing conditions.

“Fortunately, they were able to call out for help; the Deputies were able to reach them before disaster struck,” the release further states.

The sheriff’s office advises all motorists to always let someone know where you’re going, make sure your vehicle is well-equipped for travel, keep extra clothes, blankets, food and extra supplies.

As of Friday morning, westbound traffic along Interstate 70 was already experiencing significant backups due to cleanup of a hazmat spill from an earlier jackknifed semi-truck crash along I-70 westbound at Dumont (Mile Point 235), CDOT stated in a Friday news release.

“While traffic is now flowing through this area in one lane, travel from Denver to the Eisenhower Tunnel is two hours-plus,” the release states… “This crash was NOT weather related. But, motorists need to prepare for continued impacts to travel due to this unexpected traffic incident and the incoming storm. If you absolutely need to make essential travel during the storm, be prepared for road closures and severe conditions on roads that are open.”

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