The good news is the spring rainy season is here. The bad news is the spring rainy season is here.

Rain Could Bring Unfortunate Circumstances to Glenwood Canyon

The dry and parched western Colorado landscape is desperately thirsty for moisture and spring showers may bring some much-welcomed precipitation. However, the much-needed rains may bring along some unfortunate circumstances - the closure of Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon.

Mudslide Concerns In Glenwood Canyon

Ever since the Grizzly Creek Fire of 2020 that burned more than 32,000 acres in Glenwood Canyon, mudslides and debris flows have been a constant concern. Most notably were the mudslides in late July of last year that created a two-week closure of the interstate as crews worked to remove boulders, dirt, rocks, and debris from the highway. Although the interstate has long since reopened, clean-up efforts are still going on with 200,000 tons of debris removed thus far.

Colorado Department of Transportation
Colorado Department of Transportation

While traffic has been flowing fairly normally through Glenwood Canyon, the threat of mudslides remains, especially with the thawing of the ground and the anticipated spring showers. According to the Post Independent, the Colorado Department of Transportation will be working closely with the national weather service to determine if and when the interstate will be closed ahead of significant rains above the Grizzly Creek burn scar.

Weather Warnings Could Prompt Closures in Glenwood Canyon

As was the case last fall, when NOAA declares thunderstorm warnings or watches, weather events that could lead to mudslides, CDOT will close the I-70 rest areas and the Glenwood Canyon Recreation path. If a watch is issued, CDOT staff will be dispatched to closure points along i-70, and should a warning be issued, the canyon would be closed to traffic until the warning expires.

Depending on the severity of a storm, closures could last less than an hour -- or could extend for multiple hours. Motorists are encouraged to always be aware of weather forecasts and the potential for hazardous weather events that could impact I-70 travel.

Zane Mathews
Zane Mathews

Future Impacts In Glenwood Canyon Could Be Minimized

We are encouraged to know that CDOT is working with contractors and the U.S. Forest Service to minimize disruptions to I-70 traffic flows. Crews are building debris flow catchment fences where excess debris and water can collect in basins during future rain events.

Closures and delays along the I-70 corridor are an inconvenient part of living in Colorado. Most of the time we can travel I-70 without incident, but for those times when we face an I-70 closure or delay it can be terribly frustrating. About all we can do is expect it and accept it when it happens - and be thankful that we are being kept safe from harm.

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