CDOT: I-70 Glenwood Canyon safety closure update Monday, August 8

Colorado Department of Transportation

Good weather during the weekend allowed crews to work without interruption on clearing mud and other debris from I-70 in Glenwood Canyon. CDOT crews were able to make significant progress during the weekend of Saturday, August 7 and Sunday, August 8, hauling 440 loads over the two days. Each truck load equals 13 tons of material. There was not an official weather watch over the weekend from NOAA and there was no precipitation at the burn scar or in the canyon.

Interstate clean up:
Work included 204 loads hauled on Sunday, August 8, to the CDOT dumpsites at No Name (Mile Point 119) and Dotsero (MP 133) on I-70, and at MP 9.3 on Highway 82. 

On the east side of Glenwood Canyon, crews continued to work on loading trucks. The east side of Glenwood Canyon is from Hanging Lake Tunnel (MP 125) to the east. Crews cleared the remainder of the debris from the eastbound lanes at MP 124.3, which is an important area to assess in order to determine what is required to safely reopen I-70. Crews continued cleaning from Hanging Lake Tunnel to Bair Ranch, loading trucks with 110 loads on Sunday. Work will resume tomorrow with crews cleaning drainages and drop drains, and washing roadways. The priority will be to continue to clean up all the slides from Hanging Lake Tunnel to Bair Ranch on the eastbound lanes, where there is still a lot of debris.  

On the west side of Glenwood Canyon (The west side of Glenwood Canyon is west of Hanging Lake Tunnel): 94 loads were hauled on Sunday, Aug 8. Crews were able to completely uncover the remainder of the debris at the washed out area at MP 123.5 (Blue Gulch) eastbound, so that the CDOT inspections and CDOT engineering teams can get a better assessment of the damage. This is one of the most critical areas for the inspection/engineering team to inspect the potential damage now that the debris is cleared in order for visual inspection to occur.  That area measures approximately 120 feet wide on the north side/passing lane and narrows up to approximately 70 feet on the south side/driving lane (see photo). 

Crews will continue to excavate the debris mud out to original grade/solid ground today (Mon., Aug. 9).  Eastbound lanes have been cleared all the way to the MP 123.5 with rocks cleaned off (see photo). Also on the west side of the canyon, crews were able to remove a large boulder.

Priorities for Monday, August 9:

Crews will pick up where things ended on Sunday at MP 123.5. Smaller areas still need to be cleaned eastbound and westbound at MP 123 and westbound at MP 123.7-123.8, and all eastbound from Hanging Lake Tunnel to Bair Ranch.

The engineering team will be conducting inspections, with better access now that crews have been able to remove more debris.

Traffic control points at the Exit 87, CO 6 & 13 bypass, and at MP 133 are now being run by a contractor. CDOT and contractor crews are jointly managing Exit 116; CDOT is still manning both sides of CO 82 Independence Pass until the contractor can mobilize more flaggers.

CDOT: I-70 Glenwood Canyon safety closure update Monday, August 8

Latest update on support to Glenwood Canyon by state agencies

Colorado Unified Coordination Group

DENVER, Aug. 9, 2021: A Colorado Unified Coordination Group established on July 30, 2021, with the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), Colorado State Patrol (CSP)  and the Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DHSEM) supports the response efforts for the Glenwood Canyon incident.  The Colorado State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) is activated at Level Three operations. Three lines of effort are underway:

  • Clear the debris from I-70, repair necessary infrastructure and reopen the highway led by CDOT. 
  • Clear or mitigate debris in the waterways that threaten critical infrastructure led by DHSEM and the Colorado Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
  • Ensure the safety of drivers and communities along alternate routes led by CSP.

A disaster declaration authorizing the use of the Colorado National Guard for traffic control and debris removal was signed by the Governor on Friday. Additionally, the declaration activates the State’s Emergency Operations Plan and enables State agencies to better coordinate their response while also providing additional funds to respond to the damage and repairs needed in areas affected by burn scar flooding and slides.  Governor Polis requested $116 million in funding from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Emergency Relief program on August 8. 

CDOT formed an Incident Command (IC) to handle Glenwood Canyon response and recovery efforts. The IC structures serve to focus the department and a team of individuals on recovering from the incidents as quickly as possible.  The primary objective for CDOT is to complete emergency repairs so that all lanes of traffic are open through Glenwood Canyon before ski season begins.

CDOT crews have cleared more than 1,440 truckloads of debris from the I-70 roadway in Glenwood Canyon during the current safety closure, including 440 loads over this past weekend. By weight, up to 26 million pounds of material have been removed between Friday, July 30 and Sunday, August 8. 189 maintenance employees from around the state are assisting with closure management and clean-up efforts. There have been 14,900 man-hours completed by maintenance staff. CDOT and maintenance leadership have also been hard at work responding to this incident, as well as engineering and other CDOT teams. 

CDOT teams will continue to determine the impact to the roadway and use that information to secure Federal Highway funds for repairs to open the roadway.

The CSP is responsible for traffic management and the safety of the traveling public.  The CSP coordinates resources from the Colorado National Guard to staff traffic control points on secondary roadways with high traffic volume. The Patrol has scheduled increased staffing for a two-week period following the start of this closure. This includes an additional 22 trooper shifts focused on alternative routes.  

The CSP is requesting that motorists do not use 911 for closure or route information. This information can be found by visiting www.COtrip.org. If motorists are concerned about an aggressive driver, they are encouraged to call *CSP, please do not call 911.

Colorado SEOC and DHSEM leadership met with the FEMA Region 8 administrator on August 2 to request a joint damage assessment as the first step in requesting federal funding through FEMA.  The data from the damage assessments is required as part of the formal disaster declaration request process to show the impact on the State of Colorado and the counties involved in the Glenwood Canyon incident.  The SEOC is also coordinating with the United States Army Corps of Engineers and the United States Forest Service for debris management and recovery in the Colorado River.

The State Recovery Task Force is activated to support short and long-term recovery efforts, including securing funding to assist with the recovery from sources such as the FHWA Emergency Relief Program, U.S. Small Business Administration, Natural Resources Conservation Services, Federal Emergency Management Agency.  

The SEOC is coordinating all resource requests for the response and recovery. The current focus is on securing traffic management resources for CDOT and CSP to ensure the safety of the traveling public on the alternative routes.  The second focus is supporting the agricultural impacts. 

DHSEM regional field managers and the State Recovery Task Force led 12 state and federal agencies through the Glenwood Canyon to begin damage assessments of the river and water supply.  The damage assessment teams include the National Weather Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, DNR, U.S. Geological Survey, CDOT, CDPS, Colorado School of Mines, Colorado River Conservation District, Colorado Avalanche Information Center, U.S. Forest Service. The results of the initial assessment will quantify the damages in order to request recovery funds and create a debris management plan.  

As part of the State Recovery Task Force, an Agriculture Recovery Assessment Team conducted an initial meeting Friday to address safety concerns related to transporting animals and non-refrigerated perishable commodities along the longer alternative route. 

The Colorado Business Emergency Operations Center (BEOC) is activated and surveying the private sector to determine operational and economic impacts.  These coordination efforts have occurred with businesses through meetings with the chamber of commerce in both Glenwood Springs and Grand Junction.  The BEOC is coordinating with Suncor and Colorado Energy Office (COE) to monitor the impacts of operations and verify the current fuel supply status across the state.  An economic impact report for western slope producers is expected by August 11.   The Colorado BEOC is coordinating the response to future closure incidents through a fuel and rail working group that includes DHSEM, COE, Suncor and rail partners.  Additionally,  the Colorado BEOC is working with the Agriculture Recovery Assessment Team to identify economic impacts to producers due to the I-70 closure.

Latest update on support to Glenwood Canyon by state agencies

CDOT: Travel alert | road closure – I-70 Glenwood Canyon; Governor: disaster declaration

Colorado State Governor’s Office

Aug 2, 2021, 12:44 pm – These photos show the extreme damage from the mudslides. We are getting ready to issue the state disaster declaration and the preparing the request for a federal declaration under the Stafford Act. I was planning on joining helicopter surveillance of the damage today but due to rain and hail the choppers aren’t flying and the damage is potentially going to get even worse. Colorado Department of Transportation Execuive Director Shoshana Lew is on site in Glenwood managing the emergency. – Jared Polis, Governor

8-2-21 Glenwood Canyon
8-2-21 Glenwood Canyon
8-2-21 Glenwood Canyon

Colorado Department of Transportation

8/01/21, 4 pm – I-70 through Glenwood Canyon will continue to be closed due to “extreme damage” from the latest round of heavy rain and flooding Saturday night (7/31); this assessment was provided by senior operations supervisors and engineering staff who described damage to the viaduct structure unlike anything they had seen before. CDOT crews are assessing damage and continue to clear debris and mudflow when weather conditions are safe.

Detour route around I-70 Glenwood Canyon:
CDOT strongly asks that motorists use the recommended northern alternate route via I-70 – CO 9 – US 40 – CO 13. Westbound motorists from the Denver metro area should exit I-70 at Exit 205 (Silverthorne) and travel north on Colorado Highway 9 towards Kremmling. Travelers will continue west on US Highway 40 and then south on CO 13 to complete the alternate route and return to westbound I-70 at Rifle (Exit 90). Eastbound travelers can detour using the same route in reverse.

For trucks planning to travel through Colorado, CDOT recommends they take I-80 through Wyoming.

Check out COtrip.org for the latest status on road conditions.

8-1-21 Glenwood Canyon
CDOT: Travel alert | road closure – I-70 Glenwood Canyon; Governor: disaster declaration

CDOT: Operational update on I-70 through Glenwood Canyon

Colorado Department of Transportation

July 30, 1:30 PM 
GLENWOOD CANYON — Glenwood Canyon continues to experience severe impacts from debris flows along burn scars from the Grizzly Creek fire. A safety closure continues to be in place for Interstate 70 in Glenwood Canyon, and is anticipated to last through the weekend.

The extended safety closure is necessary due to significant clean up required after Thursday’s mudslides and debris flows, as well as continued heavy rain in the forecast. CDOT reminds travelers that weather and safety conditions can shift precipitously in a manner of moments in this area, and weather forecasts suggest rain and significant mudslide risk through the weekend.

At approximately 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 29, Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon was closed due to a Flash Flood Warning for the Grizzly Creek burn scar area. CDOT closed I-70 at standard exits to keep the travelling public safe and to access recommended detour routes. At 6:00 p.m. that Flash Flood Warning and a Flash Flood Watch expired, and I-70 was reopened.

Later last night at approximately 9:00 p.m., a new Flash Flood Warning went into effect after storm cells quickly built up in the area. Mudslides and debris reached I-70 within a few minutes. Throughout this time, CDOT highway maintenance personnel were working to secure the roadway and protect life safety. While debris was flowing down onto the roadway, CDOT temporarily evacuated its operations center in Hanging Lake Tunnel and had operations personnel working in the complex shelter in place for their safety. By approximately 10:45 p.m. the Hanging Lake Tunnel operations center was back online.

CDOT staff at the tunnel assisted travelers who were trapped on I-70 by debris flows and sought shelter at Hanging Lake Tunnel; 29 motorists sheltered at the tunnel complex overnight. In total, CDOT has accounted for 108 individuals who have now been either evacuated from Glenwood Canyon or have been moved to a safe place.

CDOT crews are now working to regain operational access throughout Glenwood Canyon. Because the National Weather Service has placed this area back under a Flash Flood Watch, there is a limited window of time to move all abandoned vehicles to safety.

With significant additional rain forecasted for the area and the possibility of additional debris flows, I-70 will remain closed between Exits 87 (West Rifle) and 133 (Dotsero). This closure will last at least through this weekend.

CDOT strongly asks that motorists use the recommended northern alternate route via I-70 – CO 9 – US 40 – CO 13. Westbound motorists from the Denver metro area should exit I-70 at Exit 205 (Silverthorne) and travel north on Colorado Highway 9 towards Kremmling. Travelers will continue west on US Highway 40 and then south on CO 13 to complete the alternate route and return to westbound I-70 at Rifle (Exit 90). Eastbound travelers can detour using the same route in reverse.

CDOT: Operational update on I-70 through Glenwood Canyon

Flash Flood Warning for Pine Gulch Fire area

Flash Flood Warning
National Weather Service Grand Junction CO
651 PM MDT Sun Jul 25 2021

Map of Flash Flood Warning area

The National Weather Service in Grand Junction has issued a

* Flash Flood Warning for…the Pine Gulch Fire Burn Area in…southwestern Garfield County in west central Colorado…north Central Mesa County in west central Colorado…

* Until 845 PM MDT.

* At 651 PM MDT, Doppler radar indicated thunderstorms producing heavy rain over the Pine Gulch Fire burn area. The expected rainfall rate is 0.5 to 1 inch in 1 hour. Flash flooding is ongoing or expected to begin shortly.

Excessive rainfall over the burn scar will result in debris flow moving through the Pine Gulch Burn area. The debris flow can consist of rock, mud, vegetation and other loose materials.

HAZARD…Life threatening flash flooding. Thunderstorms producing flash flooding in and around the Pine Gulch Fire burn area.

SOURCE…Radar.

IMPACT…Life threatening flash flooding of areas in and around the Pine Gulch Fire Burn Area.

* Some locations that will experience flash flooding include…mainly rural areas of southwestern Garfield and north central Mesa counties.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

This is a life threatening situation. Heavy rainfall will cause extensive and severe flash flooding of creeks…streams…and ditches in the Pine Gulch Fire Burn Area. Severe debris flows can also be anticipated across roads. Roads and driveways may be washed away in places. If you encounter flood waters…climb to safety.

Turn around, don’t drown when encountering flooded roads. Most flood deaths occur in vehicles.

Flash Flood Warning for Pine Gulch Fire area

NWS: Flash Flood Watch for Grizzly Creek Fire burn area; I-70 reopened in Glenwood Canyon

Garco 911

July 24, 5:27 pm – I-70 is open between mile markers 87 West Rifle in both directions, and mile marker 133 Dotsero.

Colorado Department of Transportation

July 24, 5:21 pm – Glenwod Canyon is cleared and crews are reopening all closures. Crews will remain on standby until WATCH expires at 9 pm. Eastbound will continue to have a single lane closure in place.

National Weather Service

Central Colorado River Basin-Gore and Elk Mountains/Central Mountain Valleys-Flat Tops
438 PM MDT Sat Jul 24 2021

Flash Flood Watch map

…FLASH FLOOD WATCH FOR THE GRIZZLY CREEK FIRE BURN AREA IN EFFECT UNTIL 9 PM MDT THIS EVENING…

The National Weather Service in Grand Junction has expanded the

* Flash Flood Watch to include portions of northwest Colorado and west central Colorado, including the following areas, in northwest Colorado, Flat Tops. In west central Colorado, Central Colorado River Basin and Gore and Elk Mountains/Central Mountain Valleys.

* Until 9 PM MDT this evening.

* National Weather Service Meteorologists are forecasting possible heavy rainfall over the Grizzly Creek Fire Burn Area, which may lead to flash flooding and debris flows.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS… You should monitor later forecasts and be prepared to take action should Flash Flood Warnings be issued.

Garco 911

July 24, 3:41 pm: I-70 is closed between mile-markers 87 west Rifle both directions, 133 Dotsero, due to a flash flood warning.

National Weather Service

July 24, 3:28 pm
The National Weather Service in Grand Junction has issued a

* Flash Flood Warning for… the Grizzly Creek Fire Burn Area in…western Eagle County in west central Colorado… East Central Garfield County in west central Colorado…

* Until 630 PM MDT.

* At 328 PM MDT, Doppler radar indicated thunderstorms producing heavy rain over the Grizzly Creek Fire Burn Area. The expected rainfall rate is 0.2 to 0.5 inches in 1 hour.

Flash flooding is ongoing or expected to begin shortly. Excessive rainfall over the burn scar will result in debris flow moving through the Glenwood Canyon area. The debris flow can consist of rock, mud, vegetation and other loose materials.

HAZARD…Life threatening flash flooding. Thunderstorms producing flash flooding in and around the Grizzly Creek Fire Burn Area. SOURCE…Radar.
IMPACT…Life threatening flash flooding of areas in and around the Grizzly Creek Fire Burn Area.

* Some locations that will experience flash flooding include… Glenwood Springs and Shoshone.

FLASH FLOOD…RADAR INDICATED FLASH FLOOD DAMAGE THREAT…CONSIDERABLE EXPECTED RAINFALL…0.2-0.5 INCHES IN 1 HOUR.

This is a life threatening situation. Heavy rainfall will cause extensive and severe flash flooding of creeks…streams…and ditches in the Grizzly Creek Fire Burn Area. Severe debris flows can also be anticipated across roads. Roads and driveways may be washed away in places. If you encounter flood waters…climb to safety. Turn around, don`t drown when encountering flooded roads. Most flood deaths occur in vehicles.

Garco 911

July 24, 1:10 pm – I-70 is open between mile-markers 133 Dotsero eastbound and 116, Glenwood Springs exit.

Colorado Department of Transportation

July 24, 1:05 pm – I-70 eastbound and westbound between mile markers 116 and 133 in Glenwood Canyon is open following forecasted precipitation and debris flows over the Grizzly Creek burn area. There are several locations throughout the canyon that are down to one lane while crews continue clean up operations, so please slow down through the work zone. For the status of the road closure, please check cotrip.org or CDOT’s Twitter page, or call 5-1-1.

National Weather Service

Central Colorado River Basin-Gore and Elk Mountains/Central Mountain Valleys-Flat Tops
11:46 AM MDT Sat Jul 24 2021

…FLASH FLOOD WATCH FOR THE GRIZZLY CREEK FIRE BURN AREA IN EFFECT UNTIL 9 PM MDT THIS EVENING…

Map of Flash Flood Watch area

The National Weather Service in Grand Junction has expanded the

* Flash Flood Watch to include portions of northwest Colorado and west central Colorado, including the following areas, in northwest Colorado, Flat Tops. In west central Colorado, Central Colorado River Basin and Gore and Elk Mountains/Central Mountain Valleys.

* Until 9 PM MDT this evening.

* National Weather Service Meteorologists are monitoring the potential for heavy rainfall over the Grizzly Creek Fire Burn area, which may lead to flash flooding and debris flows.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

You should monitor later forecasts and be prepared to take action should Flash Flood Warnings be issued.

Garco 911

July 24, 4:27 am – I-70 is open between mile markers 133 Dotsero and 116 Glenwood Springs westbound lanes only.

More info on Glenwood Canyon closure and Colorado River impacts

NWS: Flash Flood Watch for Grizzly Creek Fire burn area; I-70 reopened in Glenwood Canyon

CDOT: I-70 westbound open in Glenwood Canyon after debris flows and Colorado River impacts

Garco 911

July 24, 4:27 am – I-70 is open between mile markers 133 Dotsero and 116 Glenwood Springs westbound lanes only.

Colorado Department of Transportation

I-70 through Glenwood Canyon closed due to several debris flows
Extended closure anticipated. Motorists should use alternate route

July 22, 9:14 pm UPDATE:

I-70 Corridor – I-70 in Glenwood Canyon is closed in both directions again, due to several debris flows that occurred around 5:30 p.m. this evening. The extended closure is between Exit 116 (Glenwood Springs) and Exit 133 (Dotsero), with an additional closure point at Exit 87 (West Rifle).

Crews are continuing to assess the slide areas with particular attention to a debris field blocking the Colorado River at mile point 124, about one mile west of Hanging Lake Tunnel. The roadway was not impacted at this location, but CDOT engineers are on site to evaluate any damage to structures. Cinnamon Creek, above the Hanging Lake Tunnel complex, also experienced a significant debris flow but the tunnel complex was not damaged.

An earlier safety closure had been put in place at 4:45 p.m., so vehicles were clear of the canyon. 

This is an EXTENDED CLOSURE and motorists are encouraged to utilize the northern alternate route (Please see attached map). That route is Colorado Highway 13 from Rifle to Craig, east on US 40 to Steamboat over Rabbit Ears Pass to Kremmling, and down Colorado Highway 9 to Silverthorne.

Motorists traveling westbound can access Colorado Highway 82 / Independence Pass. Commercial vehicles and recreational vehicles longer than 35 feet are not permitted on Independence Pass.

Please do not use navigation applications to look for alternate routes.There are many auxiliary roads such as Cottonwood Pass, Hagerman Pass and Eagle/Thomasville Road that are not passable and do not have cell service. Cottonwood Pass is restricted to local traffic only.

Glenwood Canyon debris flow - July 22, 2021

Glenwood Canyon debris flows - July 22, 2021

Glenwood Canyon mud flow - July 22, 2021

Glenwood Canyon debris flow on July 22, 2021

Glenwood Canyon, Colorado debris flow July 22, 2021

Glenwood Canyon debris flow for July 22, 2021

Glenwood Canyon debris flow from July 22, 2021

Garco 911

July 22, 6:16 pm: The existing closure on I-70 has been moved from mile marker 116 eastbound, Glenwood Springs, to mile marker 87, west Rifle.

I-70 is closed between exit 87 and 116 eastbound, with local traffic allowed through exit 109 to access the Highway 82 corridor. Westbound, I-70 is closed at Dotsero, exit 133.

Colorado Department of Transportation

UPDATE – 6:15 pm (7/22) – Debris flows have occurred in several sections of I-70 Glenwood Canyon. This is an EXTENDED CLOSURE with no estimated time of reopening, while crews assess the debris flows. Motorists are advised to seek the northern alternate route via Steamboat Springs.

CDOT asks that motorists use the recommended northern alternate route when detouring around the closure. Westbound motorists from the Denver metro area should exit I-70 at Exit 205 (Silverthorne) and travel north on Colorado Highway 9 towards Kremmling. Travelers will continue west on US Highway 40 and then south on CO 13 to complete the alternate route and return to westbound I-70 at Rifle (Exit 90). Eastbound travelers can detour using the same route in reverse.

Glenwood Canyon detour route

City of Glenwood

July 22, 6:06 pm: Safety closure in effect for the Glenwood Springs River Park at Midland and Devereux and the pedestrian bridge crossing the Colorado River from the River Trail to Two Rivers Park. No estimated time for reopening.

National Weather Service

July 22, 2021, 4:36 p.m.: The National Weather Service in Grand Junction has issued a flash flood warning for the Grizzly Creek Fire Burn Area in Western Eagle County in west central Colorado, East Central Garfield County in west central Colorado until 6:30 p.m.

At 4:36 p.m. MDT, Doppler radar indicated thunderstorms producing heavy rain over the Grizzly Creek Fire Burn Area. Flash flooding is ongoing or expected to begin shortly. Excessive rainfall over the burn scar will result in debris flow moving through the Glenwood Canyon area. The debris flow can consist of rock, mud, vegetation and other loose materials.

HAZARD: Life-threatening flash flooding. Thunderstorms producing flash flooding in and around the Grizzly Creek Fire Burn Area.
SOURCE: Radar.
IMPACT: Life-threatening flash flooding of areas in and around the Grizzly Creek Fire Burn Area. Some locations that will experience flash flooding include Glenwood Springs and Shoshone.

FLASH FLOOD DAMAGE THREAT: CONSIDERABLE
Instructions: This is a life threatening situation. Heavy rainfall will cause extensive and severe flash flooding of creeks…streams and ditches in the Grizzly Creek Fire Burn Area. Severe debris flows can also be anticipated across roads. Roads and driveways may be washed away in places. If you encounter flood waters climb to safety. Turn around, don`t drown when encountering flooded roads. Most flood deaths occur in vehicles.

GarCo 911

July 22, 2021, 4:40 p.m.: I-70 is closed between mile-markers 116 and 133 both directions, Glenwood Springs and Dotsero, due to a flash flood warning.

National Weather Service

July 22, 2021, 12 p.m.: A flash flood watch is in effect for the Grizzly Creek Fire burn area through the evening. The National Weather Service in Grand Junction has expanded the flash flood watch to include portions of northwest Colorado and west central Colorado, including the following areas, in northwest Colorado, Flat Tops. In west central Colorado, Central Colorado River Basin and Gore and Elk mountains/Central Mountain valleys.

National Weather Service meteorologists are monitoring the possibility for heavy rainfall over the Grizzly Creek Fire Burn area, which may lead to flash flooding and debris flows.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS

Monitor later forecasts and be prepared to take action should flash flood warnings be issued.

CDOT: I-70 westbound open in Glenwood Canyon after debris flows and Colorado River impacts

CDOT: Travelers should prepare for weather-related disruptions and road closures through at least next week

Colorado Department of Transportation

Ongoing flash flood watches and warnings due to monsoon rains are likely

STATEWIDE — As an ongoing monsoon weather pattern increases flooding and mudslide risks throughout Colorado, travelers need to plan ahead and double-check weather warnings and COtrip.org before hitting the road. Mudslides and flooding have closed multiple roads in the last 24 hours, and are likely to do so again. CDOT crews are coordinating statewide to respond to slides, clean up debris and manage traffic impacts along affected roadways. We appreciate motorists’ patience as we work as quickly and safely as possible to clear roadways while also monitoring for more rain and mudslides. 

“Between the unrelenting weather forecast and the impacts we are seeing throughout Colorado, CDOT is asking travelers to take extra precautions, plan for additional time and double-check conditions before traveling,” said CDOT Executive Director Shoshana Lew. “Our crews will continue to monitor conditions closely and take what steps we can to keep people safe and return to normal as the weather allows. Once weather passes and crews can evaluate the impacts to the roadway, we are removing rocks and debris and making sure the road surface is safe before reopening.” 

Weather forecasts from the National Weather Service show the monsoon season will be in full effect during the next 7-10 days. Slow moving storms are anticipated, with the ability to drop a significant amount of precipitation. This afternoon, forecasters are monitoring storms building south of I-70 and across Colorado’s mountains. Central Larimer County, including the Cameron Peak burn scar, is under a Flash Flood Warning until 4:30 p.m. today. Thunderstorms producing heavy rain and resulting in additional flooding are expected. Weather forecasters are also monitoring potential impacts for several burn areas including Grizzly Creek, Cameron Peak and East Troublesome burn scars.

Several major roads remain affected by mudslides that were triggered yesterday afternoon and evening and earlier today, including: 

  • I-70 in Glenwood Canyon continues to be closed between Exit 87 (West Rifle) and Exit 133 (Dotsero). The closure began at 8:45pm on Tuesday, July 20, due to a Flash Flood Warning and then mudslides. Crews are clearing five mudslides and will be assessing weather this afternoon and evening. There are three slides on eastbound I-70, at Mile Points 127.5 to 128.5, that consist of mostly water and soupy mud. A fourth slide on westbound lanes is located from MP 130.5 to Exit 129 (Bair Ranch) and has more solid material, including small rocks. A fifth slide took place on the Bair Ranch exit off-ramp. It also contains more solid material with small rocks.
  • CO 14 in Larimer County has now opened following mudslides triggered yesterday evening. 
  • CO 125 between Cabin Creek and Buffalo Creek in Grand County: a mudslide around 2:30 p.m. today has closed the road in this area; more details will be available as crews respond.
  • CO 133 near McClure Pass and south of Carbondale is open with one alternating lane of traffic. Crews have cleared one lane through an 8 foot mudslide from Tuesday night; two smaller slides also reached the road. Clean up may last longer than usual due to continuing slides in the area. Motorists should plan for delays.

“Landslides can travel several miles and create an avalanche of earth, mud, and debris. These natural disasters are fast-moving and come with force,” explains Col. Matthew C. Packard, Chief of the Colorado State Patrol. “Advance preparation can make a big difference in your safety and survival. Pay attention to the weather forecast and stay alert by looking for the landslide signs like unusual sounds, including rocks knocking together, or trees cracking.”

“We know that flooding is a high risk after wildfires, and our Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DHSEM) has been working proactively with affected communities to raise awareness and enhance preparedness for these types of events,” said Stan Hilkey, Director of the Colorado Department of Public Safety. “Local communities have done an excellent job responding rapidly to the floods and mudslides this week, particularly in Larimer County where they have sadly seen losses. DHSEM and the State Patrol will continue to support efforts to open roads quickly and work on solutions for a quick recovery.” 

COtrip.org will continue to have the latest information on travel conditions throughout the state, even as conditions change quickly.

CDOT: Travelers should prepare for weather-related disruptions and road closures through at least next week

CDOT: Glenwood Canyon reopened for travel following mudslides and rockfall

Colorado Department of Transportation

July 21, 9:45 pm – UPDATE: I-70 Glenwood Canyon is open in both directions – CDOT crews have reopened both westbound and eastbound I-70 in Glenwood Canyon. Crews will remain on standby in the event the weather changes during the night. For the status of road closures at any time, including overnight, please check cotrip.org, CDOT’s Twitter page, or call 511.

July 21, 12:43 pm – UPDATE: CDOT crews are continuing to clean eastbound and westbound lanes on I-70 and assess the weather. The safety closure continues to be in place at this time. There is a Flash Flood Watch now in place for the Grizzly Creek Burn scar.

I-70 in Glenwood Canyon is closed at Exit 87 (West Rifle), Exit 116 (Glenwood Springs) and Exit 133 (Dotsero), due to flash flooding potential for the Grizzly Creek burn scar. 

EASTBOUND I-70 DETOUR: Colorado Highway 13 from Rifle to Craig, east on US 40 to Steamboat over Rabbit Ears Pass to Kremmling, down Colorado Highway 9 to Silverthorne. 

WESTBOUND I-70 DETOUR: See route above, in reverse. Click here to see a map of the alternate route: DETOUR MAP

National Weather Service

July 21, 12:22 pm: FLASH FLOOD WATCH FOR THE GRIZZLY CREEK FIRE BURN AREA IN EFFECT UNTIL MIDNIGHT MDT TONIGHT…
Flash flood watch map

The National Weather Service in Grand Junction has expanded the

* Flash Flood Watch to include portions of northwest Colorado and west central Colorado, including the following areas, in northwest Colorado, Flat Tops. In west central Colorado, Central Colorado River Basin and Gore and Elk Mountains/Central Mountain valleys.

* Until midnight MDT tonight.

* National Weather Service Meteorologists are monitoring the possibility for heavy rainfall over the Grizzly Creek Fire burn area, which may lead to flash flooding and debris flows.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

You should monitor later forecasts and be prepared to take action should Flash Flood Warnings be issued.

CDOT: Glenwood Canyon reopened for travel following mudslides and rockfall

CDOT: Safety closure in place for I-70 Glenwood Canyon due to high potential of flash flooding

The National Weather Service issues Flash Flood Warning for the Grizzly Creek burn area

STATEWIDE – CDOT is putting a safety closure in place for Interstate 70 in Glenwood Canyon due to a Flash Flood Warning issued by the National Weather Service. Closure points for westbound traffic will be Exit 133 (Dotsero) to Exit 116 (Glenwood Springs). Closure points for eastbound traffic will be from Exit 87 (West Rifle) to Exit 109 (Canyon Creek). The safety closure is in place to protect motorists from the potential of flash floods, mudslides, rockfall or other hazards that can be triggered by heavy rains at the location of Grizzly Creek burn scar area. The closure will remain in place through the duration of the Flash Flood Warning, which is forecast to end at 5:00 p.m. tonight. If a debris flow or mudslide occurs, motorists should be aware that I-70 will be closed for a longer period of time to allow maintenance crews to clear the highway.

Motorists can either seek the northern alternate route via Steamboat Springs or they may wait out the Flash Flood Warning and safety closure. Motorists who decide to wait out the closure MUST wait at a location off I-70, and will NOT be allowed to wait on the roadway.

If detouring, CDOT asks that motorists use the northern alternate route. Westbound motorists from the Denver metro area should plan on traveling on the northern recommended alternate route by exiting I-70 at Exit 205 (Silverthorne) and traveling north on Colorado Highway 9 towards Kremmling or by exiting I-70 at Exit 157 (Wolcott) and traveling north on Colorado Highway 131 towards Steamboat Springs. Travelers will then continue west on US Highway 40 and then south on CO 13 to complete the alternate route and return to westbound I-70 at Rifle (Exit 90). Motorists traveling eastbound from Utah or Grand Junction can reach the Denver Metro area by traveling the route above in reverse.

The alternate route will require approximately 2.5 hours additional travel time to reach your destination, compared to traveling on I-70 through Glenwood Canyon. By traveling on the recommended alternate route, motorists can avoid major delays caused by rough roads and other hazards. Before detouring onto any alternate route, motorists should refer to www.cotrip.org for the latest road conditions.

Motorists are asked to not use smartphone navigation apps to look for alternate routes. There are many auxiliary roads such as Cottonwood Pass, Hagerman Pass and Eagle/Thomasville Road that are not passable and do not have cell service. Cottonwood Pass is restricted to local traffic only.


Encountering inclement weather

If you are stuck in a closure waiting for a road to be cleared of mud or rocks, do not leave your car unless absolutely necessary. Never hang out in the grassy median located between lanes. If traffic is moving in the opposite direction, the median can be a hazardous area. Emergency response vehicles and heavy equipment may also need the median area to move about and access the emergency scene.

Lengthy closures on the interstate may also be the result of staged releases. As stopped traffic backs up, creating long lines, traffic will be let go in stages, allowing traffic queues ahead to clear, before releasing more traffic. 

Be prepared 

Highway closures can last for as little as a few minutes or for as long as several hours. When drivers set out on a trip, especially through high country roads or the I-70 mountain corridor, it is wise to have the car supplied with an emergency kit. The kit should contain at the very minimum: water, snacks, flashlight, and a blanket. Remember to also carry water for your pets if you’re traveling with animals. You may even consider packing some items to keep you or children occupied while waiting in the car. Activity books, colored pencils or a deck of cards can help pass the time.   

Driver safety 

When motorists drive up onto a flooded area, there are several precautions to follow.  

  • Never drive through any flooded area, you do not know how deep or how fast the water is running. 
  • Even 8-10 inches of water can float an average-sized car, which can be easily swept off the road. 
  • Driving too fast on wet roads or in flooded areas can cause a vehicle to hydroplane. Never use your cruise control during rainy conditions with standing water on the roadway.
  • Any amount of flooding or mud can obstruct the roadway and hinder drivers from knowing exactly where to drive. If you cannot see the roadway, be smart and wait for the water to subside. 
  • Water and mud can contain unknown hazards hidden under the surface – rocks or other debris, like plant material and tree branches.

Know before you go

Travelers are urged to “know before you go.” Gather information about weather forecasts, anticipated travel impacts, and current road conditions prior to hitting the road. CDOT resources include:

A map of the alternate route during Glenwood Canyon closure.
CDOT: Safety closure in place for I-70 Glenwood Canyon due to high potential of flash flooding