Denver sent plows out for this very normal storm, surely everything will be fine

The city’s 36 residential plows will get to work starting at 3 a.m. Tuesday and work through 3 p.m., according to the city’s Department of Transportation and Infrastructure.
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A Denver Public Works snowplow on the job in Capitol Hill, Oct. 29, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Denver's trying to keep the roads clearer this snowstorm. The city will send out its fleet of smaller residential plows as the metro area prepares for heavy snowfall affecting Monday evening's commute.

The 36 residential plows will get to work starting at 3 a.m. Tuesday and work through 3 p.m., according to the city's Department of Transportation and Infrastructure. They will join the 68 larger snow plows in helping keep streets clear.

Drivers should expect a snowy and difficult commute Monday evening and on Tuesday morning. Meteorologist Kyle Fredin said the Denver metro area will see between four to 10 inches of snow.

"That's quite a big range," Fredin said about the snowfall forecast. "Denver has a lot of topography to it. Locations out there by Denver International Airport and Commerce City might be closer to that four-to-five-inch range. But we think with locations in and near the foothills and the southern and southwest suburbs, (it's closer) to that eight to 12-inch range, where they get the best upslope."

The state's Department of Transportation is warning the worst of the snowstorm will strike the metro area this evening. The agency said in a release drivers should expect slick conditions, even though roads were treated in advance. The state recommends you leave work a bit early to give yourself extra time and avoid the usual rush hour. They're asking people to try and limit driving during the brunt of the storm.

Fredin, who works at the National Weather Service Office in Boulder, said to expect widespread snowfall from Monday afternoon and throughout the evening. Snowfall will likely begin tapering off around 8 a.m. to noon on Tuesday in the metro area.

Fredin said this storm is basically on schedule for the state's typical snowfall.

"This is a strong storm, but certainly not out of the ordinary," Fredin said. "Even though we haven't had much winter weather here in the last two months, this is very typical for northeast Colorado."

CDOT has about 100 plows out in the metro area. The city's residential plow fleet, made up of 4X4 pickup trucks with plow attachments, works by taking one pass down the center of every side street to prevent ice rutting, according to DOTI. The plows help shave off the top few inches of snow pack, but won't expose bare pavement. The city said residential areas won't be getting de-icing materials.

In December, the city sent out larger plows to drop deicing material on residential streets, which it had never done before, after residents complained about poor road conditions despite the use of residential plows.

A small, specialized plow will be used to clear the city's protected bike lanes. The city said they'll drop deicer in bike lanes as needed.

Correction: This story has been updated to clarify the kind of snow plows the city sent out after resident complaints during a previous snowstorm. 

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