No one should be surprised by snow as Labor Day slammed the door on a nonexistent summer of discontent and the coronavirus continues to hobble the nation.
It's also hobbled state government budgets, and now it's taking an early dip in the diminished tax resources that the Colorado Department of Transportation and the city and county of Denver have to spend on snow plows.
CDOT told 9News the agency will have about 110 plows clearing roads in the Denver metro area starting about 7 a.m. Tuesday, as well as on Interstate 70 from Golden to the Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnel, as the state braces for a snowstorm that could drop up to 7 inches on the metro region and up to 20 inches in the foothills.
"More plows will be out statewide," CDOT said Monday.
In addition, Denver maintains a plow tracker so city residents can keep tabs of where and when streets will be cleared. You can find it by clicking here.
Rain is expected to switch over to snow about noon Tuesday, when the high reaches only the mid-30s. Denver could see up to 2 inches of snow in the afternoon and three more before midnight, as snow lingers into Wednesday.
The National Weather Service said the high temperature Wednesday could reach only 40 degrees before rebounding to the 50s on Thursday, though rain is expected to linger.
The first September snow in 20 years comes as Colorado faces the worst public health crisis in a century and an ensuing economic crisis on par with the Great Depression.
About half of the state highway department's $1.55 billion goes to maintenance, including plowing and avalanche control.
CDOT plows about 6 million lane miles each year and spends about $80 million annually for snow removal, including oversight of more than 35 mountain passes.
Last year, CDOT budgeted $79.2 million for snow and ice removal. Despite the crunch of the pandemic, lawmakers put in more this year: $79.8 million.
That, however, is still about $800,000 less than Gov. John Hickenlooper spent on snow plowing in his last year as governor.
Polis pushed all of his agencies to spend less after taking office last year as he eyed such priorities as free all-day kindergarten, an expansion of health care and a tax cut, when the state's economy was one of the strongest in the country.
Denver's Department of Transportation and Infrastructure maintains 2,050 lane miles with 68 large plows and 36 smaller, residential plows.
The city spends about $3 million annually for about the same amount of mileage as Minneapolis, which spends about $13 million annually, Denverite reported last December.
Denver uses more pickups equipped with graters for side streets, which make up about one-third of Denver’s responsibility. Side streets make up about one-third of what Denver is responsible for, and not all the streets and alleys get plowed, unlike its Minnesota comparison.
Warmer weather is expected to return Colorado on Thursday and reach back into the 70s and 80s By next weekend, according to the National Weather Service.