CDOT recommends limiting Thanksgiving travel as wave of snow looms for holiday
Some of the busiest travel days of the year are upon the United States, and Colorado drivers should plan accordingly for the conditions that will be in front of them, with some days worse than others for holiday driving.
The heavy winter conditions that have impacted the state this week will see a brief respite Wednesday in between storm systems, the first of which brought a blanket of snow to Craig Monday and Tuesday.
Wednesday’s forecast from National Weather Service shows cloudy skies but little precipitation during the day.
However, that window will be small, Meteorologist Megan Stackhouse, with NWS’s Grand Junction office.
“We’re looking at showers increasing again over the Craig area late tomorrow afternoon and continuing more so overnight Wednesday night into Thursday morning,” Stackhouse said Tuesday afternoon. “The best coverage of showers with this second storm looks to be Thursday night into Friday. It’ll be in the area for a while and won’t kick out until Saturday. It’s a very slow-moving system.”
Stackhouse estimated Craig will see another 1 to 3 inches of snow during Thanksgiving, while western Moffat County could see as much as 4 to 6 inches.
“A lot of has to do with the timing and the warm air moving into the area, because it is a southerly system,” she said. “Either way, we’re looking at showers through the end of the week.”
Daily high temperatures will stay in the mid-to-high 30s and low 40s during the snowfall, though as the system leaves the area, the conditions will get chillier.
Stackhouse noted some strong winds could be in store, dependent on how the climate shifts as Saturday and Sunday see a buildup of high pressure.
“There may be some gusts of 20 miles an hour at times, but not too bad,” she said. “Once we get through this Thanksgiving storm, at least there’s no major storms on the horizon right now. It’ll be a snowy Thanksgiving for a good bit of the West, that’s for sure.”
As far as holiday travel conditions, highways across the state are likely to be packed as Thanksgiving crowds look to get to their destinations.
Lisa Schwantes, regional communications manager for Colorado Department of Transportation, said CDOT is advising drivers to limit their time on the road as much as possible, specifically Thursday and Friday.
The “lull” in weather Wednesday means that may be the best time to get moving on US Highway 40 and Colorado Highway 13 to beat the bad conditions, she said.
“The Western Slope will see the brunt of the next storm and higher elevations will be seeing significant snowfalls,” she said. “Hopefully, folks will have already gotten where they need to be on Thanksgiving Day. Then of course Friday, folks will be wanting to return home. We’re recommending that if you can hold off until Saturday and Sunday and let that brunt of the storm pass, if you can wait, we’re really recommending you do that.”
Schwantes said roadways all over Colorado are a concern, especially spots that are normally hazardous even without winter weather, such as the Denver metro area.
Online updates will be key, she added, with camera access via CDOT showing people just what they may be facing if they decide to brave the roads.
“We’ll be seeing icy roads and even after snow stops falling, we could see winds and blowing snow,” she said. “We just ask that folks play it safe. If you have to travel, be prepared and have an emergency kit in your vehicle with water, food and blankets.”