Slick travel conditions expected for holiday weekend throughout Colorado
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Those planning to ski over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend will celebrate incoming snow, but travelers should plan for winter conditions on highways across Colorado starting Thursday afternoon.
Snow is expected to move into the Yampa Valley on Thanksgiving Day, with snow showers after 11 a.m. mixing into rain after 2 p.m., according to the National Weather Service forecast office in Grand Junction. Heavier snow showers are likely before 11 p.m. Thursday.
“A stronger, colder system will be moving in probably late Friday through the day Saturday,” said Dan Cuevas, a weather technician at the Weather Service.
Cuevas said travelers should be prepared for slippery road conditions, especially on the higher mountain passes including Rabbit Ears Pass.
“They’ll be getting snow packed and icy with falling, blowing snow,” he said. “Things could be a little hairy.”
The weather system will move across the state, hitting the northern, central and southern mountain corridors.
Those seeking better chances of avoiding winter conditions should try to hit the road Sunday or Monday, Cuevas said. Forecasters are calling for partly and mostly sunny skies on both days with a high around 25 degrees.
The Weather Service is calling for 4 to 8 inches above 8,000 feet in the Thursday system and 6 to 12 inches at the same elevation in the system moving in Friday evening. As of Nov. 20, the Yampa and White River Basin had 95 percent of its long-term average snowpack for this point in the water year.
“If you’re concerned with the skiing or concerned with the snowpack for the sake of having water next spring, it’s good that we’re starting to get these systems coming in,” Cuevas said. “We’ve had a bit of a lull for a good part of the month of November. We need the snow.”
Colorado State Patrol Captain Doug Conrad said drivers should prepare for winter conditions by checking vehicle’s tire tread and ensuring your vehicle has windshield washer fluid and working windshield wipers. Troopers recommend keeping an ice scraper and extra clothes in your car in case of a vehicle break down.
“The biggest thing is slowing down,” Conrad said.
He said driving even just five miles per hour slower would help more people make it where they need to go.