Flash freeze alert as winter storm bears down on Garfield County Monday into Wednesday
Be prepared for a flash freeze and extended snowfall for the next three days, weather forecasters and state highway officials are advising.
Another winter storm, this one bringing up to 6 inches of new snow to Glenwood Springs, plus high winds and much colder temperatures, was expected to hit Garfield County Monday afternoon, Erin Walter, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction, said.
“It has been moving slower than originally anticipated,” she said. “Right around sunset is where it’s trending now.”
She added that the storm would clear out and wrap back around with an uptick of snow showers by Tuesday afternoon and continue into the late hours of Tuesday evening. Overall, though, the second wave is predicted to produce less snow than what is predicted Monday night.
“After the storm pushes through this evening, the showers will likely weaken,” Walter said.
This storm will be unique in adding prolonged periods of cold temperatures that will be unusual, Walter said, adding this has already been a colder winter than recent years.
Monday afternoon is also expected to bring a flash freeze, which can cause it to jump from clear to whiteout conditions in a short period of time, likely during evening traffic commutes.
“There will be isolated to scattered snow showers throughout the week,” Walter said.
Walter predicted about 3-6 inches in the next 72 hours between New Castle and Glenwood Springs. Farther south is expected to see more snowfall in that time, with Carbondale receiving 2-4 inches more than Glenwood.
Aspen and the higher elevations are expected to see 6-10 inches, if not a foot altogether.
State highway and local safety officials are advising to plan extra time for commutes over the next couple days, starting Monday evening.
Once the storm passes, crews will move toward clean-up operations, according to a news release from the city of Glenwood Springs.
Be cautious around plow trucks and remember it is illegal to pass plow trucks when their lights are flashing and they are actively working, the release states. Keep a good amount of distance from the trucks giving yourself about three to four car lengths behind the plows.
The city said it strives to respond to snow and snow plowing concerns within 48 hours after the snowstorm has ended, according to the release.
The city has a contractor on board that helps remove the snow piles down the middle of city streets with a snowblower that is 52 inches tall, 110 inches wide and weighs 9,000 pounds. Allow plenty of space when you see it coming, the release states.
Stay safe on the road
The Colorado Department of Transportation has an entire webpage to give people advice on winter driving preparedness.
“We have a lot of people who are new to Colorado and new to mountain driving, so we really try to emphasize the basics in a lot of ways because a lot of folks just don’t know,” said Elise Thatcher, regional communications manager for CDOT.
Ice and packed snow make it hard to stop, so be sure to give yourself extra space between you and the car in front of you for stopping room, CDOT advises.
It’s best to slow down and begin braking sooner when coming to a stop, especially on packed snow and ice.
“We recommend that you do any of these three things only by itself when it’s snowing outside,” Thatcher said. “When it’s snowing, you want to either accelerate, or turn, or brake. No combination of those two or those three. That’ll set you up for success when you’re out driving.”
Headlights also help to improve visibility, according to the release.
Important safety check before you leave
Before heading out, make sure to check the air pressure in all tires, including your spare, according to the city release.
Colorado does have a Tractions Law that requires that during a storm, all vehicles on the road should have at least a 3/16-inch tread depth.
The Tractions Law also requires that vehicles either have 4WD or AWD ability, or tires with a mud and snow designation, winter tires, tires with an all-weather rating by the manufacturer, chains or an approved alternative traction device.
Also, be prepared going upvalley toward Aspen. Just because vehicles and tires work well in Garfield County does not mean they will get around as easily in Pitkin County, Aspen Assistant Police Chief Bill Linn said.
When heading out, make sure to have plenty of windshield washer fluid and fuel, and clean your car off well for visibility. Make sure to completely clear the snow off your car windows, lights and the top of your car, Thatcher said.
Safety checks are very helpful this time of year with winter weather. Remember to give your vehicle a tune-up before long trips.
Here are a few other tips from the city of Glenwood Springs and CDOT:
- An updated oil change and the right amount of oil in your vehicle will also be helpful for a long or local commute in freezing weather. Other parts of the car that are helpful to inspect before trekking out in the cold are the battery, windshield wipers and brakes.
- Most local car parts stores offer free battery testing and even charging.
- Keeping a winterized emergency vehicle kit will be helpful for any minor to extreme situation that might involve getting stuck in the cold.
- Leaving home with a shovel, a flashlight with extra batteries or crank powered, sand or cat litter for traction and jumper cables can be a life saver. Salt can also be helpful, but CDOT’s Thatcher said that the sand and cat litter give more grit for vehicles to gain traction on.
- Other things to add to an emergency kit might include an emergency blanket or a good sleeping bag, a first aid kit, roadside triangles or reflectors and a jug of water that can be insulated by the sleeping bag to keep it from freezing.
- Less important things to keep stocked in the car include an extra cell phone charger, rags, gloves and any other extra winter clothing.
- Always plan your route in advance and be sure to let someone know your route and estimated time of arrival, according to the release.
Any other streets-related winter weather questions or concerns can be directed to the Glenwood Springs Street Department at 970-384-6379. Monitor Colorado highway conditions at cotrip.org and view other travel safety information at cdot.gov.
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