While slightly delayed, Colorado’s much-anticipated winter storm is on track and set to arrive later today. Winter-related warnings and advisories have been hoisted in anticipation of the coming snow and cold.
High temperatures today will be a bit warmer than originally anticipated due to a slower-than-expected arrival of the storm system. The impact of the storm however has not changed.
Look for highs in the Denver metro area to top out right near the 50 degree mark a bit before noon. From there temperatures will start to drop as the storm system starts to work its way south into the area.
Arrival of the storm on the Colorado Front Range is now expected for late this afternoon / early evening. Some light snow will be possible starting by mid-afternoon with increasing chances as evening approaches and especially overnight.
The National Weather Service has scaled back its initial snowfall forecasts for lower elevations. As we discussed yesterday, this is a wise move as these types of systems with extreme cold rarely generate the amount of snow models try to generate in their forecasts.
A Winter Weather Advisory has been put in place of the previous Winter Storm Watch for the Denver area and runs from 6:00 p.m. this evening through 6:00 p.m. Wednesday. In the advisory the service discusses snow accumulations of 5 to 9 inches between the start of the event and Wednesday evening with the higher amounts near the foothills.
This still appears to be overdone a bit and we would expect much of the Denver area to receive 3 to 6 inches over that period. Higher amounts will occur in the foothills and along the Palmer Divide. Certainly there will be locations that receive more (and less) but the range seems reasonable and appropriate.
Up in the high country, ski areas are going to receive a veritable bounty of snowfall. Many locations in the mountains will be seeing snow totals in the range of 1 to 2 feet.
A Winter Storm Warning will be going into effect for the mountain and foothills areas at 6:00 p.m. and run through 6:00 p.m. Wednesday. Snow will spread from north to south this morning, ramping up this afternoon and then getting started in earnest in the evening.
The real story with the storm is not so much the snow but instead the bitter, dangerous cold that is coming with it.
Overnight low temperatures tonight in the Mile High City are going to approach single digits. Tomorrow’s and Thursday’s “high” temperatures will struggle to even reach the teens. Nighttime temperatures Wednesday, Thursday and Friday night are expected to drop below zero.
The unseasonably cold weather will be long-lasting and it could be near the middle of next week before Denver records another temperature above freezing.
By now Coloradans should have completed their preparations for the coming Arctic blast. To help you get things wrapped up, here are a few tips:
- Ensure you and your children are appropriately dressed starting this morning with layers of clothing capable of withstanding dangerous cold and windchill temperatures.
- Be sure your vehicle has a good battery, windshield washer fluid, antifreeze protection, adequate tires and an emergency kit.
- Your home should have any exterior hoses disconnected, exterior plumbing should be drained or well insulated and the furnace should be in proper operating condition.
- Do not forget about the four-legged creatures among us. Pets and livestock need to have adequate shelter during this type of extreme cold and should not be left exposed.
Our Winter Weather Preparedness series provides invaluable information and education on the winter weather hazards that are coming:
- Winter Weather Preparedness: Travel hazards and safety
- Winter Weather Preparedness: Hazards of wind chill, hypothermia and frostbite
- Winter Weather Preparedness: Knowing what advisories, watches and warnings mean
- Winter Weather Preparedness: Avalanche safety
- Winter Weather Preparedness: The dangers of powerful winter winds