Colorado receives 63-inches of snow, on average, every single year. That is quite a bit of snow, and this heavy snow affects the roads that every Colorado resident and visitor rely on. It’s important you know how to commute in risky conditions. Below we’re giving you the best tips for driving in the Colorado snow. 

Snow in Colorado is normal and even expected. Being at a higher elevation, most areas of Colorado experience light or heavy snowfall, especially if you’re the mountain regions, or traveling for to the abundance of ski resorts. Still, the snow has a tremendous effect on the roads that everyone uses. When the roads are blanketed in a sheet of snow, that snow quickly turns to ice, which makes driving across the road far more challenging. This usually leads to road closures, which can affect your ability to travel from place to place, as well as your safety behind the wheel. It can also impact commute to work and even keep you from making it to places on time.

how to drive in the snow

In order to drive in the Colorado snow, you must be aware of how the roads are affected by the snow. You must not only be aware of how the roads are affected, though, you must also be aware of what you can do to prepare for those conditions. That way, you can have safe and pleasant driving experience.

How Much Snow Does Colorado Receive?

While, on average, Colorado receives 63-inches of snow per year, the amount of snow varies throughout the state. The Denver Metro Area receives an average of 73-inches of snow, per year. In Boulder, the snowfall average is 82-inches per year. Within the Fort Collins Metro Area, an average of 67-inches falls per year. The Colorado Springs Metro Area receives the least amount of snow, with an average of only 64-inches per year.

Denver, Boulder, Fort Collins, and Colorado Springs are all large and populated areas. Many people live in these areas, and as such, the roads are heavily relied upon. But, due to the amount of snow that falls each year, these roads aren’t always easily accessible.

When there is a lot of snow, it’s likely that the roads will be completely covered in ice. This means that, as a driver, you need to drive slowly, with caution. Naturally, this leads to slow-moving traffic, which makes your travel time a lot longer than it would normally be.

In some cases, the roads are completely inaccessible. Due to the snow and ice, the state shuts down the roads, and nobody can travel through them.

tips for driving in the colorado snow

What Should You Do To Prepare For Driving In The Snow?

So what can you do? Here are some vital tips for driving in the Colorado snow to help you prepare.

To prepare for driving in the snow, there are several things that you must do. Here are a few things to bear in mind:

  • You must be aware of the current weather and road conditions
  • Practice driving in snowy conditions
  • Give yourself enough time to get to your destination
  • Ensure your vehicle is equipped to handle driving conditions
  • Prepare for emergencies

Current Weather and Road Conditions

Before you begin your journey, take a look at the weather and road conditions ahead of time. This is especially important in metro areas where heavy traffic is common. Understand that if snow is intense, there may be some ice on the roads. Ice will severely impact driving conditions and even cause road closures. Ensuring that your route is free of closures, plus anticipating weather changes using useful apps such as CDOT will give you a better idea of your commute is worth the trouble. Ideally, you’ll want to stay off icy roads as much as possible.

It’s also a good idea to plan your route and evaluate if it’s, indeed, the best path to take. Many of the main roads will be backed up and even closed. Many Coloradans suggest finding less popular roads to help get you safely to your destination. Google Maps and other map-type apps will give you a heads up on closures and accidents, too.

practice driving in the snow

Practice Driving in the Snow

One of the most frequently offering tips for driving in the Colorado snow is: practice. This is especially true if you’re not familiar with driving in snowy or icy conditions, try to find a remote place to practice. Finding an empty parking lot or a deserted area will help you get some needed practice.

Try these things:

  • driving in circles
  • braking
  • accelerating and decelerating
  • using the windshield wipers
  • utilizing overdrive/4WD features (if your car has those capabilities)

By doing this, it will help you become more comfortable driving in the snow and help you recognize when conditions are not suitable for driving. Realize that snowy condition mean taking things slowly and being very patient with yourself and other drivers. Too many accidents are caused by rushing and not paying attention to snowy conditions.

Give Yourself Enough Time

Tips for driving in the Colorado snow also include time. Don’t forget that you need to take things slowly. Even with 4WD and AWD cars, you are not immune to ice! When planning a commute either to work, home, or even to the mountains for a little getaway, make sure to always give yourself enough time. A good rule of thumb is to leave an hour earlier, or even up to two hours early in really bad conditions, to ensure that you don’t have any troubles and so you avoid rushing. Snowy conditions mean cars slip and slide, and rushing or accelerating is never a good idea. Most Coloradans will drive 5-10mph (sometimes more) under the speed limit just to play it safe.

If you have to commute to work, be sure to let upper management know when you’re running late due to road conditions. Do not attempt to rush to work. This is a leading cause of accidents, especially in metro cities like Denver, Colorado Springs, and Boulder.

how to drive safely in snow

Is Your Vehicle Equipped?

If you’re living in Colorado long-terms one of the best tips for driving in Colorado snow is buying a vehicle that is suitable for the weather. Great options are 4WD and AWD cars who are prepared to handle most dire road conditions. These types of vehicles will keep your car from sliding more frequently and they will also help you better maintain control of your vehicle in the event of an emergency. Most Coloradans will select these types of cars as they are better suited for the rough, snowy winter conditions.

Since it’s snowing out, and since you’re going to be driving on icy roads, it’s important that you put snow tires on your car. Snow tires make it significantly easier for you to navigate on an icy road, and without snow tires, an accident is far more likely.

Prepare for Emergencies

One of the most useful tips for driving in Colorado snow is: be prepared for anything.

Always plan for the worst-case scenario. Getting stranded, especially during snowy conditions can be extremely dangerous. When you’re doing something as extreme as driving during terrible weather or extremely icy roads, it’s especially important to pack for an emergency. Here are a few recommendations that you should account for:

  • Have an ice scraper – even if you scrape ice/snow before you begin driving, heavy snow-fall means it gets backed on your windshield really quickly. You may need to pull over and clean your windows periodically. Also, don’t forget to stock up on windshield wiper fluid that is winter-proof!
  • Blankets – never leave home without at least 3 blankets. You can’t always count on your car for heat, especially if it runs out of gas or breaks down unexpectedly. Have a backup of blankets to keep you warm while you wait for assistance.
  • First Aid Kit – this should be in your car at all times, even when the weather is nice. First aid kits are always handy and important in the event of an emergency.
  • Spare Tire and Tools – getting a flat is incredibly frustrating. Couple that with a downpour of snow. Ensure your car has a spare to keep you off the road from an extended period of time and practice changing the tire so you know what to do in the event of an emergency.
  • Water – storing water in your car is never a bad idea. After all, humans can survive without food for longer than they can without water! Pack some spare bottles in your trunk or backseat.

Moving to Metro Colorado Cities

Denver and Colorado Springs have both exploded over the last several years. Unfortunately, this means that traffic has become hectic, much like other large metro cities across the nation. However, during the winter, the commute is only made that much worse. Still, these areas are one of the most beautiful and amazing places to live, so don’t let it deter you from making a move to the Centennial State. Instead, prepare for the conditions and use these tips for driving in the Colorado snow. Contact us for property details in Denver and Colorado Springs.