First major storm of the season hits Colorado

By: Rob Hughes Email
By: Rob Hughes Email

In Grand Junction, expect snow, mainly after 9 a.m. High near 37. South southeast wind 5 to 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100 percent. Total daytime snow accumulation of 1 to 2 inches possible.

Tonight, look for snow. Low around 21. West wind 5 to 10 mph becoming north in the evening. Chance of precipitation is 100 percent. New snow accumulation of 3 to 5 inches possible.

In Montrose, expect snow. High near 37. South southwest wind around 10 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100 percent. Total daytime snow accumulation of 1 to 3 inches possible.

Tonight: snow. Low around 20. Southwest wind around 10 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100 percent. New snow accumulation of 3 to 5 inches possible.

The first major winter storm of the season will impact the region early late this evening through Wednesday afternoon.

A strong winter storm continues to develop over the great basin and will impact northwest Colorado and northeast Utah through day break as it strengthens. This storm packs all the ingredients for prolonged moderate to heavy snowfall at many locations including the lower elevations of the Gunnison and Colorado river valleys. In the mountains powerful southwest winds will produce substantial blowing and drifting snow over all the high mountain passes and exposed locations. The heaviest snowfall is expected across northwest Colorado this morning, the shifting toward the Interstate 70 corridor this afternoon. Snow will increase across southwest Colorado tonight.

Expected snowfall amounts by late tonight:

Northwest Colorado: 10 to 20 inches

I-70 corridor from De Beque Canyon to Eagle: 6 to 12 inches

Grand Valley: 5 to 10 inches

Central Colorado valleys including Montrose, Naturita and
Gunnison... 4 to 8 inches

Durango and Pagosa Springs areas... 6 to 12 inches

Eastern Utah valleys and Cortez... 3 to 6 inches

Mountain areas: 1 to 2 feet, possibly exceeding 30 inches above 9000 feet on southwest facing slopes.

Roadways will become icy and snow packed as the moderate to heavy snowfall spread in coverage and intensity. Periods of near whiteout conditions in heavy snowfall and some blowing snow will be possible. Travel through any of the mountains of western Colorado and eastern Utah will be extremely hazardous and not recommended. It you must travel in the mountains Tuesday through Wednesday, be sure to bring extra food, water and warm clothing. Before you depart, be sure to inform others when you intend to leave and your planned travel route.

Winter storm warning remains in effect until noon MST Wednesday.

* Timing: today through Wednesday morning with the heaviest snowfall expected early this evening through the early morning hours of Wednesday.

* Snow accumulation: 5 to 10 inches over the lower Grand Valley west of Palisade, and 6 to 12 inches along the I-70 corridor from east of Palisade to Avon.

* Winds: mainly southwest at 5 to 15 mph today, becoming north at 10 to 15 behind the cold front passage this evening.

* Visibility: less than 1 mile in moderate to heavy snow this evening and overnight.

* Impacts: travel will become hazardous as roads become snow packed and icy this evening.

Precautionary/preparedness actions:

A winter storm warning means significant amounts of snow are expected or occurring. Strong winds and blowing snow are also possible. This will make travel very hazardous or impossible.

This hazardous weather outlook is for eastern Utah and western Colorado.

Day one: Today and tonight
Winter storm warning covers much of the region today and tonight with winter weather advisories for parts of eastern Utah and Montezuma county of southwest Colorado.

Heavy snowfall is expected across northwest Colorado with the highest amounts across Rio Blanco county. Snow will spread south this afternoon and cover much of the region tonight. Significant snow accumulations are expected nearly for the entire region.

Snow will be increasing in intensity with periods of heavy snow. Strong gusty winds over mountain passes, mountain tops and above timberline will have whiteout conditions at times from substantial blowing and drifting snow.

Days two through seven: Wednesday through Monday

Widespread snow across west central and southwest Colorado Wednesday morning will be tapering off quickly in the afternoon. Snow will end Wednesday evening.

Expect plummeting temperatures at sunset Wednesday evening. Thursday morning will be the coldest so far this winter season with overnight lows as cold as 25 degrees below zero in the coldest mountain valleys. Warmer Pacific air arrives on Friday, but strong temperature inversions will still exist with snow covered valleys remaining cold.

The chance of snow increases in the mountains on Monday as another winter storm may develop across the intermountain west. There is much uncertainty on the intensity of this weather system and how it will impact travel on Christmas Eve.


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