Colorado’s in for a wild ride of turbulent weather this week, with meteorologists predicting strong winds over Monument and a blizzard verging on another “bomb cyclone” in the Denver area after hot, dry conditions statewide.
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The National Weather Service in Pueblo issued a blizzard warning for parts of the Front Range, including northern El Paso County, from noon Wednesday until noon Thursday. Winds could gust to 60 mph, and 1 to 6 inches of snow could accumulate, the warning says.
“Plan on challenging road conditions. Blowing snow could significantly reduce visibility. The hazardous conditions could impact commutes. Strong winds could cause tree damage.”
Yet just Tuesday, El Paso and Pueblo counties were under a red flag warning, prompting Teller County to restrict open burning as of noon.
Temperatures reached 75 degrees Tuesday in Colorado Springs, nearing the record high for April 8 of 80 degrees, set in 1977.
But Wednesday, the city is expected to get rain until midafternoon, and then 1 to 2 inches of snow, the weather service reported. Temperatures are forecast to reach 54 degrees.
A warning of high winds — 40 to 60 mph — is in effect from 4 p.m. Wednesday until noon Thursday for southern El Paso County and Pueblo County.
After a strong cold front moves across the region in midafternoon Wednesday, strong north to northwest winds are likely through Thursday morning, the meteorologists reported.
“High profile vehicles will be affected by the strong winds. Minor wind damage to trees and structures will be possible.”
El Paso County was hit with its first wildfire of the season Sunday when flames consumed nearly 3 acres off Colorado 115 near Cheyenne Mountain State Park. Residents of about 20 homes were forced to evacuate before firefighters contained the fire about 6 p.m.
In the Denver area, the storm could border on the intensity of March’s “bomb cyclone,” bringing 5 to 6 inches of snow, the weather service reported.
Denver’s atmospheric pressure could drop by 12 to 14 millibars in 24 hours or less, NWS meteorologist Brad Carlberg said. To be designated a bomb cyclone, pressure must drop 24 millibars in 24 hours.
With two back-to-back large storms already this year, meteorologists say, Colorado’s problems might not be over. Added precipitation from the snow will lead to increased runoff from the mountains, potentially hastening the state’s flood season.
But the hideously destructive floods in Kansas and Nebraska aren’t expected to recur as they did after the March severe weather system. The ground is warmer now, so it will absorb more precipitation instead of forcing it into rivers.
A winter storm warning for Wednesday was issued for Teller County and western El Paso County, as well as parts of the mountains.
Tuesday’s high temperatures “increase the threat of wet avalanches,” warned the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, noting that this has been a winter of historic avalanches.