The first serious storm of the season is knocking on our doorsteps, and is set to deliver 65 mph winds and more than a foot of snow to some mountain locations. The storms could even bring a few flakes to the Mile High City by Wednesday morning.
A second storm moving into Colorado on Thursday is set to hit the mountains with another round of heavy snow and wind, and bring Denver and the Front Range its first measurable snow and sub-freezing temperatures of the season.
Storm No. 1: Tuesday-Wednesday
Storm No. 1 is currently spinning over the Great Basin of Nevada. It will swing up and over Colorado and into the northern Great Plains between Tuesday and Wednesday, bringing hazardous driving conditions and winds that will finish off leaf-peeping season.
This storm was forecast to hit up to a week in advance and its evolution has been typical for this time of year. Subtle movements in its track could either cause heavy snowfall in the Mile High City or a clear period. The most recent predictions suggest it will be the latter, although only time will tell. The one thing we’re sure of is that the mountains will be impacted in a big way.
Travel-affecting snows coming to the high country. The San Juans are going to get slapped with 65 mph winds and over a foot of snow.
— Rain or Shine I’m Andy Stein (@AndySteinWx) October 11, 2021
Colorado forecast offices have posted their first winter weather advisories and winter storm warnings of the season. The San Juan mountains above 9,000 feet will likely be hit the hardest by this storm. Between 8 to 12 inches of snow is forecast to fall by Wednesday morning along with winds up to 65 mph. The central and northern mountains will receive between 4 to 8 inches of snow and winds up to 40 mph by Wednesday morning.
Though this storm could bring a few flakes into Denver by early Wednesday, it is unlikely to accumulate. There is a chance of a wraparound band of rain and snow that could dust grassy or elevated areas by Wednesday morning. However, this is unlikely to impact the morning commute.
Instead, gusty winds and cool rain showers should be expected along the urban corridor on Tuesday afternoon and into the evening. Some showers have the potential to turn into gusty thunderstorms with hail as they head east onto the Plains.
Storm No. 2: Thursday-Friday
By Thursday, a second storm is expected to begin making its way into Colorado. Though weaker than the initial front, the cold air and excess moisture left over from the first storm could strengthen its impact.
A reinforcing cold front will sweep the state Wednesday night, leading to snow in the northern and central mountains on Thursday morning. Snow is expected across all mountains on Thursday, with the biggest accumulations happening to the north. Between 3 to 6 inches of additional accumulation is possible for elevations above 9,000 feet.
By Thursday night, cold air and upslope winds will bring rain along the urban corridor, quickly turning to snow as temperatures fall. Areas of the Foothills and Palmer Divide will see snow earlier than Denver but all areas should prepare for up to an inch of accumulation by Friday morning. This will be confined mainly to grassy surfaces thanks to warm ground temperatures.
With that said, Thursday night will be hit with sub-freezing temperatures which, following snow showers, could create slushy road conditions. Commuters should plan on leaving with extra time on Thursday morning to allow for the first wintery driving conditions of the season.
Friday will be the coldest day of the season across the state but in the afternoon the sun will help to melt any accumulated snow. Looking ahead, the weekend is shaping up to be beautiful across the state.