A storm system tracking to our north will be close enough to deliver much of the state with extremely high winds, critical fire danger and minimal moisture for the next several days.
The Jet Stream is the fast-flowing ‘river’ of air that moves from west to east about 5-9 miles above the earth’s surface. Winds within the jet stream normally sustain around 100 mph but can be as strong as 275 mph. Storms within the mid-levels of the atmosphere can bend and move the jet stream and that is what is going to happen across Colorado this week. The jet stream will be almost directly over Colorado for several days and that will create windy conditions for us for many days in a row.
You can really see this river of air in the gif above and how it bends and moves. The overall strength of the jet doesn’t change much this week but the direction of the winds will and that will play a factor into the weather that we expect down here on the ground.
First off, this week will likely be filled with high fire danger. We already had some wildfire action this year and under the conditions that are coming, if a fire does start, it will spread incredibly rapidly. Be prepared for this week regardless of if you live in a fire-prone area or not.
Fire danger may continue through this entire week and into the weekend so we’re not just preparing for a day or two, but possibly an entire week of heightened fire conditions.
You may have already noticed breezy conditions on Monday but Tuesday is when you’ll really start to notice the high winds. High wind alerts have been issued for many areas of the state ahead of Tuesday’s winds.
Tuesday morning into the afternoon, the winds will pick up. Gusts are expected to reach over 60 mph in the Foothills from Bailey to Estes Park and Red Feather Lakes. From Ft. Collins east to the Nebraska and Kansas border, winds will gust 50-60 mph at times. From Boulder, to Denver to Colorado Springs, wind gusts on Tuesday should near or eclipse 40 mph at times but gusts to near 50 mph are possible.
Tuesday will also come with a cold front, you’ll notice a dip in temperatures and some extra cloudiness around. Thanks to the cold front, an isolated rain shower is possible but due to the dry surface conditions, it may be hard for the moisture to reach the ground.
Wednesday, you’ll notice temperatures drop again as colder air behind the front settles in. It will again be another very windy day on Wednesday. Similar to Tuesday, Ft. Collins to Denver to Colorado Springs will feel winds gust up to and over 40-50 mph. The highest winds will be found in the Foothills and far eastern Plains where gusts could go over 60 mph at times. Wind alerts are likely to be issued ahead of Wednesday so expect that. It will be a much sunnier day on Wednesday.
Thursday brings another day of breezy to windy conditions to the region and thanks to the windy storm beginning to push east, we’ll see warmer temperatures in the afternoon on Thursday. Winds will still be gusting over 30 mph along the I-25 corridor. Friday is when we will notice the winds really subsiding. We’ll still have elevated fire danger into this weekend as a ridge of warm and dry air sets up.
The mountains will have very windy conditions over the next several days but thanks to some snow showers, fire danger won’t be as high. The topography of Colorado’s mountains will aid in creating snow showers over the highest elevations north of I-70 and when combined with high winds, reduced visibility is expected across the mountain passes. Prepare for winter driving conditions through Wednesday if you have travel plans.
Overall, although we’re not talking about widespread heavy rain or snow potential, it will be an active weather week in Denver and Colorado. Driving could be difficult if you have a high-profile or lightweight vehicle. If you can, secure any loose items that could blow away in the wind. And please, do not do any kind of burning this week.