Avalanche Hazards, Statewide

Due to heavy snow and high wind gusts, and in the interest of public safety, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) has conducted both planned and unplanned avalanche mitigation work on several mountain passes across the state today and is listing other passes as avalanche hazards.

Mitigation work is expected to continue through Wednesday as the next storm front moves into the state.

Southwestern/South-Central Colorado Outlook:

The next winter storm front will hit the southwest region of the state today (Wednesday) and will last through Friday. Adverse conditions are expected, especially in the high country. The anticipated storm has CDOT maintenance crews and CAIC (Colorado Avalanche Information Center) forecasters preparing for additional snowslide mitigation operations throughout the week and weekend.


US 160 Wolf Creek Pass
Wolf Creek Pass is open with chain law (code 18) in effect for all commercial vehicles. The pass will close Wednesday morning for avalanche control operations, from 6:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. The east side of the pass will remain open from South Fork to the Ski Area. Wolf Creek Pass is located east of Pagosa Springs.

US 550 Molas and Coal Bank Passes
Molas and Coal Bank Passes are open with traction law (code 15) in effect for passenger vehicles and chain law (code 18) in effect for all commercial vehicles. Avalanche control work began at 7:00 a.m. and crews worked to clear snow and debris from the highway until 3:00 p.m., when the passes were opened. On Monday, a snow slide was triggered by a backcountry skier between these two passes. Snow, eight feet deep, covered 200 feet of the roadway. Molas and Coal Bank passes are located between the communities of Durango and Silverton.

US 550 Red Mountain Pass
Red Mountain Pass remains closed at this time. Avalanche control and snow clearing operations took place on Tuesday. Operations are expected to continue through today (Wednesday.) The area has seen natural slides and very adverse weather conditions, making operations difficult for crews. There is no estimated time of opening. Red Mountain Pass is located between the communities of Silverton and Ouray.

CO 145 Lizard Head Pass
Lizard Head pass is currently open. Crews completed avalanche control work Tuesday morning at approx 11:30 a.m. This pass is located just south of Telluride.

US 50 Monarch Pass
Monarch Pass is open with traction law (code 15) in effect for passenger vehicles and chain law (code 18) in effect for all commercial vehicles. Crews completed avalanche control work on Monarch Pass at approx 10:30 Tuesday morning. However, the pass pass did not open until about 1:00 p.m. because of adverse road conditions and additional snow clearing operations. Monarch Pass is located west of Poncha Springs/Salida.

Visit www.COTRIP.org to view road conditions, travel alerts and track our snow plows;

Call 511 anywhere in Colorado for periodically updated road conditions;

Sign up for GovDelivery alerts.

For pictures of January 10’s avalanche control work statewide, visit this website.

Our partners at Colorado State Patrol share the following tips to keep you safe:

If you are involved in a crash, stay in your vehicle and keep your seatbelt buckled, call 911 and wait for CSP, local law enforcement or Emergency Management professionals to arrive.

Many crashes could be avoided if motorists SLOW DOWN, use caution and drive for the conditions. Slowing down allows you the opportunity to react to changing conditions. Always drive with your view to the front of the hood so you’re prepared to react as needed and leave plenty of space between you and the vehicle ahead of you.

AVOID A FINE! Both passenger and commercial motorists should be aware of the state of Colorado’s traction and chain laws which are implemented when conditions require it. When either law is in effect, highway signage will be activated. Without proper equipment, motorists can be fined $130. If your vehicle blocks the roadway, you could be fined more than $650.

Passenger vehicles:
Traction Law (Code 15) — Motorists will need snow tires, tires with mud/snow (M/S) designation, or a four-wheel drive vehicle — all tires must have a minimum one-eighth inch tread.
Passenger Vehicle Chain Law (Code 16) — Every vehicle on the roadway must have chains or an alternative traction device (like AutoSock).

Commercial vehicles:
Commercial Chain Law (Code 18) — All commercial vehicles must chain up. Code 18 may be implemented any time there is snow covering the pavement on an ascending grade and to minimize road closures.


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