DENVER (CBS4) – A sneak peek of what’s to come caused wet streets and sidewalks on Wednesday morning. It was nothing compared to the storm that would paralyze the region for the coming weekend.
Denver officially measured 0.1 inches of snow early Wednesday morning as many neighborhoods experienced a mix of rain and snow. Drier weather will dominate most of the day on Wednesday, but another slight mix of rain and snow is possible in the metro area mainly between 5pm and 7pm. Many areas are likely to remain dry.
Wednesday will also be significantly cooler compared to the last few days as the high temperatures in the greater Denver area are struggling to hit the lower 50s.
Looking ahead to Thursday, there should be another chance along the Front Range in the afternoon for a light mix of rain and snow that will last until Friday afternoon. Then the strong winter storm that comes in from the west coast should get close enough to Colorado to cause a snow surge Friday night through Saturday morning. During this time (after midnight Friday evening) traveling becomes difficult.
In many areas, travel may become impossible, conditions for farm animals and pets outside become dangerous, and power outages over the weekend are possible.
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The general snow forecast for Friday through Sunday is 1 to 3 feet along the Front Range. The highest amounts are obtained in the foothills and along the Palmer Divide in Counties Douglas and Elbert. But even in Denver, total snowfall could easily exceed 12 inches.
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The two primary weather models, which go far enough into the future to capture the entire storm, have some differences, but both agree that this will be a significant storm.
The European model has 10 to 20 inches of snow for the Denver, Boulder, and Fort Collins areas with higher amounts over 6,000 feet. These forecast readings seem reasonable given the strength and humidity available (this storm should produce 1.5 to 3 inches of liquid precipitation, which is good news given our current drought).
The American / GFS model has more snow than the European model in most areas except the eastern plains. It suggests Denver has at least 2 feet of snow and some areas in northern Colorado closer to 3 feet. While this solution is not ruled out, a projection of 33 inches of snow in Fort Collins seems too high at this point (see map below).
Independently of this, comparisons are already being made between this storm and the largest storms of the century to date. The last comparable storm was in February 2012 when Denver received nearly 16 inches of snow. So it is entirely possible that this storm will be the largest in Denver in at least 9 years.
Some persistent snow could last through Monday, but the build-up should be completed by sunrise on Monday. Then the focus will be cool for much of the next week, under normal temperatures that should last at least through Thursday or Friday.
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