Courtesy of Shotzr, Photo by Colin Lloyd (@otsfpineapples)
After some relatively quiet weather over the last two weeks, a winter storm has its sights set on Denver and the Front Range.
It’s been a little bit since we’ve had to talk about the weather. Thankfully, it has been rather quiet. It’s mid-March, so let’s talk about what this month has delivered thus far. As you know, it’s been dry recently. We’ve picked up 0.36 inches of liquid precipitation and most of that fell on March 8 when we had a rather steady rain overnight.
Temperatures so far this month are running 5.5 degrees above normal. We have had 0.5 inches of snow accumulation thanks to a few snow showers on the 1st and 2nd of the month.
But, we have half of the month to go, so we should be able to make up for some of the deficits we currently have ongoing.
The National Weather Service in Boulder has issued a Winter Storm Watch for Denver and the surrounding areas for Thursday.
A storm system moving over CO. Wednesday night-Friday morning will bring moderate to heavy snow & wind gusts to 45 mph. This will create hazardous travel conditions especially Thursday afternoon- Friday morning. The worst impacted area is expected to be the I-76 corridor. #cowx pic.twitter.com/U6Y8MtMYRf
— NWS Boulder (@NWSBoulder) March 17, 2020
This is a Winter Storm WATCH, which means winter storm-like conditions are expected within 36 hours. This will be upgraded to a winter storm WARNING of blizzard warning for some as we get closer to Thursday morning.
There are Blizzard warnings posted for Wyoming and Nebraska already for this storm, and there’s the possibility that some of the Eastern Plains be placed under a blizzard warning, and possibly even Denver, but just know that these winds are going to be howling and the snow is going to be very heavy and very wet.
Forecast for Denver and the Front Range
The forecast through Wednesday will be rather nice, with highs will be in the 60s. Wednesday will also be the warmest day of the week, because that’s the day before a cold front moves through.
A low pressure that has been sitting over the west coast, that’s been delivering massive snowfall totals to the Sierra Nevada mountains in California, will bring us our next weather maker. A chunk of that energy will break off, grab some pacific moisture, and swing into Colorado and the Central Plains. The models are in slight disagreement right now as to where an actual low pressure will form and how strong it will be, but they are in pretty good agreement as to the timing.
We should get some moisture, mainly in the form of rain for Denver and the lower elevations, Wednesday night into early Thursday morning. Once the low-pressure forms, cold air will begin to wrap around and change from rain over to snow. This is looking to happen in the morning to early afternoon hours on Thursday. Snow will continue through much of Thursday and possibly linger into Friday morning, and then snow showers will continue on Friday before things begin to clear out.
The current setup of this storm is actually really good for us to get bigger snow totals. This would be a Four-Corners low, which would make this an upslope event. If the path ends up following one that is favorable for us here in Denver, we could be looking at a storm delivering 3-6 inches of snow. On the other hand, there will be some warmth with this storm, so temperatures are going to play a big role as well. If we see the rain last longer, snow will not have as much time to accumulate.
For now, models are in enough agreement that it’s safe to say this will be an impactful winter storm.
Saturday through next Wednesday is looking to be calmer. Chilly and some clouds, but no precipitation is expected.
At a time when we are supposed to « self-quarantine, » this snowstorm may provide an excuse for people to stay inside and a reason to let all their anxieties go. Snow is very calming and seeing a city covered in fresh snow may provide a sense of tranquility.