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Severe weather will mean slow commute along Highway 24

Severe weather will mean slow commute along highway 24

MANITOU SPRINGS, Colo. - Anytime severe weather strikes in the Waldo burn area, Highway 24 will be slow-going. The Colorado Department of Transportation will close the highway when there's a threat of flash floods.

The protocol to close the highway began last fall, after muddy waters swept through Highway 24.

"We didn't want to have a replay of what happened on Aug. 9," CDOT spokesperson Bob Wilson said. "People got trapped, and it became a flow of mud going down the highway."

CDOT crews monitor the weather closely and get ready to close the highway if the weather begins to take a turn for the worse. They close Highway 24 when there is an advisory in place and debris coming down the canyon, if the rain gage says there has been a quarter inch of rain or more in the Waldo Canyon or Williams Canyon area, or if there is a flash flood warning.

"The warning is absolutely imminent," Stormtracker 13 meteorologist Jay Polk said. "That means flash flooding is either occurring right now or is expected to occur within a short period of time."

This year, there is an added level of security. CDOT installed a new culvert to help reduce risk of flooding along Highway 24.

"The culvert isn't a cure all by any means," Wilson said. "It's just one tool if you will in our toolbox to help us to try to alleviate any problems up there with excessive water or mud."

Wilson said the culvert has been working well, but there will be plenty more chances to test it this summer, especially once monsoon season begins.

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