Colorado officials: Don’t travel with expected near-record snowfall along Front Range

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Colorado officials are urging people to avoid traveling ahead of this weekend’s potentially record-breaking snow storm.

The Friday morning forecast from the National Weather Service for Fort Collins is predicting 18 to 24 inches of snow starting late Friday night through early Monday. 

In a news conference Thursday afternoon, Gov. Jared Polis encouraged Coloradans to avoid traveling unless absolutely necessary, especially Saturday and Sunday, when the bulk of the snow is expected. 

“Please travel only if necessary,” Colorado State Patrol Chief Matthew Packard said during the news conference. 

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If travel is necessary, Packard said to be sure your vehicle’s tires have a tread of at least 3/16 of an inch, wipers are working, wiper fluid and gas tanks are full and car battery is charged. He also recommended bringing an external battery pack to keep your cellphone charged, along with extra clothing, blankets, food and water. 

If you’re traveling and need assistance, Packard said motorists can call 911 or *CSP (*277). CSP is adjusting staffing to increase support in harder hit areas, but Packard said people should still be prepared to wait for help.

Packard reminded motorists to also watch out for snowplows and first responders if travel is necessary this weekend. 

“Slow and cautious driving is the best option in inclement weather,” Packard said. “We’re going to need you to be on your best game if you have to be out there.”

Colorado Department of Transportation plows will prioritize major interstates, including Interstate 25 and I-70, CDOT Director of Maintenance and Operations John Lorme said.

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CDOT is directing plowing resources from the mountains to the Front Range for this storm, Lorme said. Extra crews and equipment are also being pre-positioned in areas they believe will be hardest hit to more quickly plow roads and assist stranded motorists.

“We hope you will heed our advice and stay off the roads if at all possible,” Lorme said in the news conference.

Lorme said people should prepare for potential proactive road closures for community safety and to allow crews to more quickly clear roads. People are encouraged to check road conditions and closures before traveling at cotrip.org.

Sady Swanson covers public safety, criminal justice, Larimer County government and more throughout Northern Colorado. You can send your story ideas to her at sswanson@coloradoan.com or on Twitter at @sadyswan. Support her work and that of other Coloradoan journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.