Details are becoming more clear regarding a storm that rapidly strengthen over eastern Colorado on Wednesday. As the storm “wraps-up” the air pressure will drop to near historic levels. The drop in air pressure will be equivalent to a category two hurricane and very strong wind will develop with the storm as a result. The low air pressure as the storm moves across eastern Colorado and western Kansas not only indicates wind, but the ability of the storm to quickly and efficiently produce precipitation. This combination means a blizzard is likely over the Palmer Divide and the plains of northeast Colorado on Wednesday afternoon.
Things will change over the Palmer Divide very rapidly at some point late in the morning. As the storm quickly spins up on the eastern plains, rain will change over to snow and quickly become heavy at times with the wind ratcehting up to between 60 and 75 mph by the middle of the afternoon. Visibility will drop to near zero in some cases, especially as accumulating snow begins to drift. Travel will become dangerous to maybe impossible over parts of eastern Colorado into the evening. It’s highly likely that roads will close in this area.
Snow will depend on the location of the storm circulation and terrain. In southern Colorado there are two bullseyes of heavy snow. One is over the Sangre de Cristo mountains where between one and two feet or more of snow is possible through late Wedensday night.
The other bullseye is over the higher terrain of Colorado Springs off to the northeast across the plains. This is the most likely scenario as of Tuesday morning, but we will tweak these numbers as we continue to get more information on the storm. *NOTE* One thing I want to point out is the gradient of snow over El Paso County. In reality, I expect this gradient to be much tighter than what is currently being shown. There will be a huge difference in snow amounts from downtown Colorado Springs up to the northern parts of the county. Woodmen Road or so is likely to be the big transition area. Head to the north of there and snow amounts will quickly ramp up. Head to the south of there and amounts will quickly drop off.
Everyone east of the mountains will get wind as the storm intensifies and lifts to the northeast. Computer simulations continue to indicate the likelyhood of gusts between 60 and 75 mph during the afternoon and evening over eastern Colorado. While downtown Colorado Springs may not get much more than an inch or two, the wind will cause difficult travel with blowing snow and reduced visibility.
The central and northern mountains of Colorado will also get heavy snow on Wednesday as this winter keeps bringing periods of heavy snow to our mountains. This continues to be great news for snowpack, water storage and for the western slope, who entered the snow season in a deep drought.
Snowpack will go up in the major river basins through the middle of the week as this next storm moves through.