Posted: Apr 08, 2013 07:17 PM MDT
Updated: Jul 15, 2016 01:08 AM MDT
As of the time of this writing there are many Watches, Warnings and Advisories in place for expected winter weather conditions tonight and Tuesday. In the red shaded areas Winter Storm Warnings have already been issued for the high country, in these areas accumulating snow should begin this evening. 6" to 12" of snow will be possible, and the wind will create areas of blowing and drifting snow, especially over the higher passes. White shaded areas are where Winter Weather Advisories have been issued. While snow may not be as heavy, and than wind less problematic as compared to warned areas, slick roadways are still likely to cause slowed travel. Blue shaded areas are where Winter Storm Watches have been issued. Impacts to travel are still somewhat uncertain in these areas for several reasons. In the pink shaded areas a Blizzard Warning has been issued. Blizzard Warnings are issued when visibility is expected to be very low for a several hour period, not necessarily for accumulations of snowfall. Within this area we expect that significant snowfall accumulations will remain anchored to the higher terrain around both Colorado Springs and Pueblo, but even an inch or 2" of snow when combined with the wind could lead to whiteout conditions briefly.
By Tuesday morning the air will be cold enough to support snow area wide. We expect strong wind gusts between 40 and 50 mph over the plains so significant blowing snow and poor visibility should be expected anywhere snow is falling. It seems likely that many areas will experience a burst of intense snowfall tomorrow morning, and the timing of that burst may coincide with the morning commute so plan on leaving extra time if you need to travel in the morning.
Accumulations of snow this time of year are heavily determined by terrain, elevation and the time of day that the snow is falling. The relatively warm ground and strong sun (even behind the clouds) will melt much of the falling snow during the day on Tuesday. The lower you live the more melting will occur. Still, this storm has more cold air than most storms typically would this time of year, so we do expect accumulating snow to fall over many areas. The terrain will affect snowfall rates as is often true, and that's another factor to consider. Bottom line is we expect several inches of snow over our local mountain communities, perhaps as much as 4"- 9" in the dark pink shaded areas, 3"- 6" in the light shaded pink areas. Where you see the light blue on the map, spotty areas southwest of Pueblo and along the Continental Divide could receive as much as 6"- over 12". Although we don't expect blowing snow to be as dramatic over the mountain communities, it will be plenty cold for snow packed and icy roadways to become common. Snowfall accumulations of 4"- 9" snow may also occur over the Palmer Divide above 7000 feet, 3"- 6" amounts are likely at elevations below 7000 feet. This is the area we are most concerned with for travelers. The exposed plains will be raked by wind gusts over 40 mph at times, so significant blowing and drifting snow is expected to reduce visibility to less than 1/4 of a mile for several hours over places like Monument Hill eastward to Peyton and Calhan, and perhaps southward towards highway 94 if we can generate enough snow. For Colorado Springs and Pueblo proper we believe it is possible that we will briefly receive accumulating snow as the cold front blasts through. Best guess is 1" to 4" with most areas on the lower end of the range. If the snow is heavy enough it could briefly whiten roadways, and the higher you live the more likely this will be, certainly visibility would be down in any snow with the wind we are expecting. Being that the burst of heavier snow may coincide with the morning commute we are concerned that travelers will be in for a slow go. We don't expect snow to accumulate much over the plains at this time, but if it does even a little we would expect poor visibility due to all the wind.
As the storm moves through Pueblo, there will be a burst of snow. Penrose, Pueblo West and Pueblo can expect between 1 and 4" of snow. Areas to the south and west of Pueblo will see higher totals. The combination of wind and snow will create reduced visibilities and tough travel. There is a Blizzard Warning for this area.
Colorado Springs proper will see between 1 and 4". There will be some melting and blowing of the snow, which will make the act of measuring the snow difficult - so, the amount that falls and the totals measured will most likely be two separate values. Those who have commutes that will take them over the Palmer Divide Tuesday morning need to prepare for tough winter travel as 60MPH winds will combine with heavy bursts of snow to produce low visibilities. There could also be some slushy and icy spots, particularly over and near our local mountains.