A high wind warning was issued for El Paso County — and much of Colorado — Friday afternoon as gusts of up to 75 mph whip their way across the state.
Areas most susceptible to the winds are the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, northwestern Fremont County, eastern Sawatch Mountains, western Chaffee County, Pikes Peak and the Rampart Range, according to the National Weather Service in Pueblo.
County officials braced for the high wind speeds, saying local officials were on call to respond to the weather’s impact.
“Meteorologists predict the most impact will occur along the eastern slopes of Pikes Peak, Rampart Range and along the I-25 corridor,” read a county news release. “Winds are forecasted at 30-40 mph with gusts up to 85 mph possible. Residents should seek shelter and secure outdoor furniture and holiday decorations.”
The weather service predicted the high wind speeds to hit at 10 p.m. Friday on the high terrain west of town, and slow to about 60 mph by 5 a.m. as they moved east. By 4 p.m. Saturday, strong winds are expected to die down, the agency said.
Gazette news partner KKTV predicts wind speeds will peak at a more sedate 70 mph, said meteorologist Lucy Bergemann, noting she expects higher speeds Saturday morning, rather than Friday night.
The weather service warned that travel will be especially difficult Friday night with the high wind speeds and that power failures are expected. Loose objects are likely to become projectiles in the wind, the forecast warned.
“People should avoid being outside in forested areas and around trees and branches,” read the agency’s advisory. “If possible, remain in the lower levels of your home during the windstorm, and avoid windows. Use caution if you must drive.”
Purple, pink and yellow advisories painted a weather service map of Colorado Friday. Western parts of the state, including Aspen, Creede and Pagosa Springs, were under snow squall warnings, winter storm warnings and winter weather advisories. Areas near Woodland Park, Cañon City, Pueblo and Trinidad were under high wind warnings.
The unstable weather comes from the West Coast, as a powerful storm making its way across the country is expected to bring “bomb cyclone” conditions to the Plains and Midwest by the weekend.
The National Weather Service issued storm warnings Friday for a swath of the country stretching from Montana to Wisconsin, with heavy snow anticipated in parts of Utah, Colorado, Montana and Wyoming. Up to a foot of snow is predicted to fall over a nearly 2,000-mile-long area from the Rockies to the Upper Midwest from Friday into Saturday, AccuWeather reported.