Other parts of the country have big weather swings but in the Rockies we tend to have the biggest, partly because of our elevation. From record heat to record cold and maybe record snow it is going to look and feel really different after Labor Day.
It’s going to be 15 to 20 degrees above average this weekend and on Sunday we’re destined to go into the record books for two reasons. One, we’ll take the daily records out by a couple degrees.
Two, we’ll set the all-time record for days at or above 90 degrees in Colorado Springs in a year. Assuming we hit 90 on Friday, Sunday will be the 50th day of the year above 90. If we don’t hit this record Sunday, we’ll do it on Labor Day.
The shock to the system comes Monday night. A very strong cold front will slam south along the Front Range with wind gusts between 30 and 50 mph, plummeting temperatures, with rain and snow not too far behind.
The difference in temperature between Monday afternoon and highs on Tuesday will be in the neighborhood of 50 degrees. It’s about as big a swing as you can see and will certainly feel much different to you as you head back to work.
As the cold air plummets south an upper-level storm parks over the Colorado/Utah state line. Ahead of the kink in the flow, which we call the trough axis, there is large scale lift in the atmosphere thanks to the jet stream and relatively warmer air aloft running over the colder air at the surface. This will help to produce widespread precipitation over Colorado on Tuesday into Wednesday.
As the day begins and the colder air continues to pour south the heaviest of the showers will be across northeastern Colorado. These will spread south through the morning as temperatures continue to fall over the eastern plains.
Blue represents snow on the map below and as you can easily see, this particular computer model has most of the area seeing snowflakes by Tuesday afternoon. This is still up for debate five days out – but, even if we do switch over to snow over the eastern plains – accumulation will be tough to come by with several days in a row in the upper 90s and lower 100s just ahead of the storm.
Snow will end from north to south early Wednesday as it appears now, but how quick the storm kicks out of the Rockies is still up in the air.
Back to snow. I know people always want to know, “how much?” There are plenty of challenges with this one. First we’re five days out and I hardly ever talk about amounts that far away….too many things can change. But the warm ground is going to be a huge challenge in trying to figure out how much. The snow will be wet and heavy too which means it also compacts after it falls.
I know the mountains are going to get a pretty good snow from the Continental Divide and east into the foothills, but the lower in elevation you go the harder it’s going to be to figure out how much. The snow that does stick will be wet and heavy and very pretty!
We’re likely to see snow stick to at least the grass, trees and cars on the Palmer Divide and it’s looking more likely this is going to happen in Colorado Springs proper too!
In Pueblo we may see some snowflakes mix in with rain but anything other than a dusting on the grass seems like it’ll be tough to come by.
Regardless, be ready for this emotional solar coaster early next week!