*updated Thursday morning at 10:30 am to show extreme fire behavior in SoCo*
*updated Thursday morning at 9:00 am to add in additional wind alerts and updated winter alert *
Alrighty folks, we got a big storm coming in and there’s a lot you need to know. Including strong winds down to the Urban Corridor and lots of it. This will be a pretty energetic system, so mountain snow, avalanche danger, and extremely tough driving conditions are all expected. Let’s break it down.
TIE DOWN YOUR HOLIDAY DECORATIONS!
First, a quick check on snowpack.
Statewide snowpack is sitting at about 89% of normal. Not too bad. That last storm helped to boost the central and northern areas but the southern mountains missed out on gaining much. This incoming storm should help all areas just a bit but the main reason this storm is making headlines is less because of the amount of snow and more because of the wind.
This is a big storm moving through the western US!
Just about everyone in the Western US will feel some kind of impact from this storm.
There’s a storm barreling onshore to the west coast. This is bringing snow down to the Seattle metro and is looking to promise the Sierra Nevada mountains in California with feet of fresh snow.
Taking you back to the summertime when we have thunderstorms. Sometimes thunderstorms “collapse” and basically exhale it’s last breath and it creates a really intense burst of wind. Well, the storm move onshore currently is about to break down and it’s letting out a helluva last breath. Winds will mainly be coming from the SW and with that, a mountain wave could develop (which is what happens during high winds events in an area with topography like ours).
High wind alerts have been posted for the potential of damaging wind gusts. I’d anticipate these alerts expanding so even if you’re not currently under an alert, still be ready for strong winds.
Here’s an animation from Thursday morning to Friday morning of this breath of air blowing across the state.
Additionally, this storm is strong enough to drag the jet stream overhead and that will enhance the already high winds. Those in the Foothills from the NM to WY border and those along the SE Plains need to be prepared for a damaging wind event Thursday to Friday.
No seriously, I mean, tie your stuff down. We’re looking at the possibility of 50-70 mph winds in Boulder, Denver, Castle Rock, Colorado Springs and Pueblo. 30-50 mph winds will be common across the entire state Thursday night to Friday afternoon and some of the higher elevations could see gusts of 80-100 mph (looking at you in the Sangre de Cristos and the Wet Mountains.
I’m going to break it down a bit more. Here’s a look at specific times over the next 48 hours. (and I realize this looks not-that-great but it gets the point across 🙂 )
Thursday evening the winds will really start to crank up. Especially in the Foothills from Walsenburg to Red Feather Lakes. Winds could gust as high as 80 mph in the wind prone areas.
By early Friday morning, winds will become more widespread across western Colorado while the rather extreme winds from the Foothills starting to spread towards I-25. Friday morning’s commute could be a real doozie because of the wind. Friday morning is when the I-25 corridor could expect it’s strongest winds. Upwards of 50 mph gusts could be felt in Denver and Ft. Collins while Colorado Springs, Boulder and Pueblo could see 70 mph gusts.
By lunchtime on Friday, high winds will be spreading across the entire state. The entire central and eastern half of the state could be feelings wind gusts between 30 and 60 mph.
This will be a big blow of air that will last for several hours region-wide. Prepare for a very windy Friday.
Friday evening is when things begin to calm down.
Although, those in the Foothills will remain windy through the night.
So take this seriously because we haven’t seen a widespread wind like this for awhile.
Fire danger will be extremely high in Southern Colorado. Please be advised to not burn ANYTHING through Saturday.
As For the Snow
This storm isn’t bringing crazy amounts of snow but the wind, yes, that damn wind, is going to make near-blizzard conditions at times. That means, if you have travels plans between Thursday morning and Saturday morning, get ready to drive in some gnarly weather. Especially on Friday.
Winter storm alerts have been issued for tough travel from Thursday afternoon to Friday afternoon.
With the wind blowing this snow around, visibility with be down to a tenth of a mile at times. Please be prepared for that.
Also thanks to the wind, the snowload will be getting pushed around. As in, certain mountains and the way they’re shaped will grab and hold some of this wind blown snow creating very unique and dangerous avalanche conditions.
Avalanche watches have been hoisted by the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.
Much of the Central and Northern mountains are under “considerable” avalanche danger as this storm arrives but all areas of Colorados mountainous terrain are under at least a moderate risk for avalanches.
For the Northern mountains near Steamboat and the Flat Tops, an avalanche watch is in effect.
For areas near Summit county and Berthoud/Loveland Pass and avalanche watch is in effect.
An avalanche watch is also in effect near Crested Butte and Aspen.
lf you have friends who like to back country ski/ride or if you do, be extra, extra cautious over the next several days.
This is going to be a “fun” storm to go through so get ready.
Temperatures aren’t looking to swing in any crazy way but our cool November is translating into a cool start to December.
For Denver and the Front Range cities, a stray snow shower may burst off the Foothills but other than that, it’ll be mostly dry Thursday night to Friday. Boulder, Estes Park, Woodland Park all have better shots as seeing some light snow <1″ by Friday afternoon. The snow will moreso get hung up on the Continental Divide.
Our pattern stays active as we watch for another round of wintry weather approach Sunday-Monday and then towards the end of next week as well.
Enjoy the weather!