Love it or hate it, snow, ice and freezing temperatures are a fact of life in Colorado. Ensure you're ready by following the guidelines below and reading the Snow Savvy Guide.
You can also find information on preparing for extreme winter weather on the Office of Emergency Management Snow Storm webpage.
During a storm event, updates will be posted to the Winter Weather Road Report webpage.
Be prepared before the first snowflake hits the pavement
Make certain that your vehicle is ready for winter driving conditions long before a storm rolls into town. Being prepared means that your vehicle has decent tires, good wiper blades and a working defroster and an ice scraper.
Bald or worn tires cannot grip the road and can be extremely hazardous; the few square inches of rubber contacting the pavement is all that is between you and potential trouble. Make sure your treads are up to par by doing the penny test.
Travel only when absolutely necessary
When there is a storm, plan your trips wisely and minimize travel or - if you can - hold off until the storm has passed and road conditions improve. If you do have to travel, utilize designated snow routes and reduce your speed in snow and ice conditions. Reckless driving and high speeds are the number one cause of most winter accidents. Remember that bridge crossings are highly susceptible to freeze over first.
- Take a look at our Street Snow Cams to get a real-time look at road conditions around town.
- If you prefer travel on two wheels, be sure to check out the Rules for Winter Cycling.
- Remember that sometimes your best option may be to use public transportation.
Give snow plow trucks plenty of room and clear signals
Winter driving can be hazardous, particularly during snow storms when snow plows are deployed. With this in mind, it is important that motorists use caution when approaching plow trucks.
- Maintain a safe distance between your car and the plow.
- Signal your turning intentions, both in front of and behind plows.
- Refrain from passing any snow plow until the plow vehicle stops or turns; if you do decide to pass, make sure there is a clear path to do so.
- Avoid driving into a snow spray cloud that is created by the plow as this may cause a total “white out” of zero visibility to the driver.
- Use extra caution when driving near specialized wing plows, which have a regular 12 foot plow in the front and a 9 foot wing plow that hangs to the right; this wing plowing system clears both the driving lane and shoulder lane or two lanes of traffic in one pass, and it can be extremely dangerous for motorists who try to pass the plow.
Inside Info: That slow-moving plow on the road isn’t trying to drive you crazy… it’s operator is being mindful of numerous truck functions as well as keeping the plowed snow on the side of the road and off sidewalks.
Shovel sidewalks within 24 hours of a storm’s end
Safe, clear sidewalks are essential to mobility. Many people use them daily in order to travel through the city (even when it snows). Longmont Municipal Code states that you have 24 hours after a storm ends to clear your sidewalks. View the complete code at bit.ly/snowonsidewalks.
Low to Moderate Snowfall
When snow fall is predicted to be low or moderate, consider waiting until the storm has ended and snow plow operations have finished before clearing your sidewalks. If you have sidewalks along a plowed street, shovel sidewalk snow onto your property instead of into the street; this will help minimize any additional snow that may inadvertently get pushed onto the sidewalk by plows. It’s impossible to completely avoid conflicts between snow removal on sidewalks and streets, so we have to work together and timing is key.
When significant snow accumulates, there are a few ways to handle the increased challenge of clearing sidewalks:
- Shovel multiple times during the storm to minimize build up
- Organize a neighborhood shoveling team
- Invest in a snow blowing machine
- Hire a contractor
Resources for Those That Need a Hand
Shoveling snow can be a physically demanding task that not all residents can do on their own. For residents physically unable to shovel, consider these resources:
- Boulder County Cultivate SnowBusters: pairs volunteers with seniors
- NextDoor: social media platform that connects neighbors
- Contractors for hire >
Finally, while you’re shoveling, be sure to clear the snow from your utility meter pit as well. These pits can get pretty buried if neglected and cause problems for readers.
Keep storm drains and curbs clear for melting snow
All the snow that falls will eventually melt, and when it does, much of it runs into our storm drainage system. To help the flow of melting snow and ice, park slightly away from curbs and avoid covering storm drainage inlets. Street sweepers will be out after a storm event (weather permitting) on collector and arterial streets. If ice is present in the gutters, the sweepers will get as close as possible.
Remember our waterways when using deicer products
Always apply deicing products according to manufacturer’s instructions. Deicers are not meant to provide complete evaporation of ice and snow. Rather, they are meant to break the ice/pavement bond to make shoveling easier. Over-application doesn’t eliminate the need to shovel; it only puts more destructive chemicals into our waterways. Tip: Pellets are generally more effective at penetrating ice than flakes.
An Ounce of Prevention: Deicers become “anti-icers” when they are applied as soon as the snowy or icy conditions appear; they help prevent the bond from forming between the pavement and the ice. This will make it easier to shovel and reduce your need to apply additional chemicals.
Ensure waterlines are ready for freezing temperatures
It’s imperative to protect your water service lines from freezing – both inside and out. Check for open cold air vents or newly finished areas of construction that may have covered waterlines, and ensure heat ducts are functioning where waterlines and/or meters are installed. The most common (and preventable) winter waterline emergency is an un-winterized sprinkler system. Remember to blow out your sprinkler system and turn the water off to keep your irrigation lines from freezing.
Frozen to Burst: If you open a faucet and no water comes out, don't take any chances – call a plumber. If a water pipe bursts, turn off the water at the main shut-off valve (usually at the water meter or where the main line enters the house); leave the faucet(s) open until repairs are completed.