DENVER — This blog watches winter storms develop in computer modeling.
April 15-16 (Thur-Fri)
The storm system that has been teasing Colorado with snow showers all week is finally making its move to the east. It will bring wet snow to the Front Range and eastern plains Thursday afternoon through the day on Friday.
There is a winter weather advisory for the central mountains from the Mosquito Range all the way to the Wyoming state line. Mostly 4-8 inches is expected from late Wednesday night to Friday morning. A few of the higher passes could end up in the 8-16 inch range.
The mountain towns in Summit County are expecting to see 2-6 inches. Winter Park may take the top spot with 5-10 inches.
The foothills between 7,000-9,000 feet will get the most snow out of this storm especially areas the benefit from NNE winds. Elevation will eliminate some of the temperature issues that will happen on the lower Front Range. So not much rain is expected, if any at all.
There is also a winter weather advisory there. The highest probability is also 4-8 inches, but most of the models are showing a bit more for most spots including the lowest foothill locations like Boulder and Golden.
These totals do include a wave of snow showers Wednesday night. There will likely be a short break in the snow on Thursday morning but it will start back up by noon and go steady until about 10am Friday.
There is a chance that some spots gets a round of rain on Thursday afternoon. If that happens, obviously the snow totals will be on the lower end of the spread.
Front Range: There could be a wave of snow and rain showers on Wednesday night into Thursday morning but not much accumulation is expected if it is snow.
Then in the afternoon, the showers will return and be very heavy. They will most likely be in the form of rain at first; all the models are showing rain first changing to snow later.
When the precipitation does change over to snow, it will likely be falling extremely heavy. The switch should happen before sunset, maybe even around 4 or 5pm. The hardest hitting part of this storm will be from the time it changes over to snow to about 10am on Friday morning.
The total accumulation will depend on a lot of factors. How much rain falls first, how wet does everything get before snow, how much snow melts before solid accumulation begins, and how much compression takes place in the snowpack.
The most likely spread across the Front Range from Castle Rock to Ft. Collins is 2-6 inches. I'm posting the 18z snow accumulation solution from the Euro model. It does indicate that most areas end up in the higher end of the most probable range and even shows just a little more in spots.
Some snow accumulation is even likely on the highways and major streets but even in areas that are just wet and slushy, travel will be difficult due to low visibility from heavy snow showers. The snowfall rates should slow during the overnight hours but with the temperatures dropping, the roads could get really slick by Friday morning around sunrise.
There is no advisory out for the Front Range at the time of this posting, but one could be added during the day on Thursday just before the main event starts.
The bulk of the snow will break up around 10am Friday, but remain scattered and brief at times during the remainder of the day.
Palmer Divide: With this setup, the Palmer Divide has the same expectations as the rest of the Front Range except on the eastern end of Elbert County where there will likely be more snow and stronger winds.
Eastern Plains: The plains east of Highway 85 and north of I-70 is expected to see quite a storm with higher snow amounts and much stronger winds than the Front Range. It could even reach blizzard status, although there is no blizzard warning at this time.
The winds are expected to be in the 20-35 mph range, which is just shy of blizzard status, but I would expect blinding conditions with snow whipping sideways from those stiff north winds.
A wave of rain and snow showers should move into the area early Thursday morning from about 3am to 10am. Then it may break during the bulk heating of the day and return around 4pm. The way the cold air will wrap in, the eastern plains may have less temperature issues than the Front Range, and that could lead to higher snow totals.
Generally 4-6 inches of snow is expected with some locations possibly coming close to 8 inches. There is a winter weather advisory for Sedgwick, Phillips, Washington, Morgan, and east Weld Counties. Those are the areas that will have the best chance to get into the 6-8" range.
Yuma and Kit Carson Counties have a winter storm warning out for them but the expectations are the same as the counties in the advisory. The reason for that, is that those areas are handled by the National Weather Service out of Goodland. They have a different definition for a warning than the office in Boulder which handles all the other counties.
The storm will also last a little longer on the eastern plains with the bulk of the snow breaking up around 2pm and then remaining scattered for the rest of the night.
The areas south of I-70 will likely get more showers that are mixed and the showers will not last for quite as long, so there is just less than 2 inches expected there.
CHANCE OF SNOW IN DENVER: 100%
EXPECTED ACCUMULATION AT DIA: 4"
April 17 (Saturday)
There will be some snow showers in norther Colorado, the Front Range and the eastern plains on Saturday as well but they will be scattered with not much accumulation expected. There could be a couple spots that get an inch but most should stay at less than an inch.
Saturday's focus will be on the southern mountains. It is possible for Pagosa Springs to get 3-6 inches. Wolf Creek Pass could get 8 inches or more. No advisory has been posted there yet.
CHANCE OF SNOW IN DENVER: 20%
EXPECTED ACCUMULATION AT DIA: less than an inch
April 19-20 (Mon-Tue)
Another storm system is being shown in the computer models sweeping in from the north on Monday. Good chance that this storm brings a little more snow accumulation to the Denver area. Right now it looks like about 1-3 inches.
Some of the mountains could get up to 6 more inches of snow.
At this point it is being shown affecting the Front Range on Monday through the day, and ending before sunrise on Tuesday.
CHANCE OF SNOW IN DENVER: 40%
EXPECTED ACCUMULATION AT DIA: 1"
April 21-22 (Wed-Thur)
The pattern stays active with a couple more storm systems. One is being shown on Wednesday but will little snow impact. Some mountain and foothill location could pick up about an inch with this solution.
April 23-24 (Fri-Sat)
This storm system is being shown as a bit more potent in the models but with little to no impact to the Front Range. 2-4 inches is the early indication for the mountains.
WEATHER LINE 9: Updated weather forecast information at 303-871-1492.
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