(SOUTHERN COLORADO) — Drought conditions have been expanding over southern Colorado in the late winter and early spring. A storm set to arrive with welcome heavy rain and snow will give a widespread 1-2″ of liquid over the area Tuesday and Wednesday.

The heavy precipitation is a combination of an upper-level storm from the Pacific Northwest and Gulf of Mexico moisture that gets pulled into the storm as it moves into Colorado.

Showers will develop and expand across the region on Tuesday and will be widespread by late in the day. Get things done on Monday or early Tuesday morning if you need to avoid the moisture.

The biggest challenge with the storm is the rain/snow elevation and how much sticks for those that see snow. It’s a tough call for several reasons:

  • It’s April – high sun angle
  • The storm is not particularly cold
  • The rain/snow line changes through the storm
  • Warmth in the ground – some snow melts on contact
  • It’s heavy, wet snow – it will squish snow below it

Uncertainties remain about the amount of snow for specific areas because of the issues mentioned above, but changing how we look at potential snow amounts versus the traditional map may help. It should at least help to provide some context. Notice that the higher you are, not only the more likely you are to see snow stick (at least on the grass and trees), you’re more likely to get some pretty hefty amounts of snow. Use the arrows in the slideshow to advance through several selected communities to try and make the point.

The most challenging travel conditions will occur from late Tuesday afternoon through the morning on Wednesday. This timeframe is when the rain and snow will be heaviest and the temperatures coldest (overnight and early Wednesday morning) allowing the rain/snow line to drop to it’s lowest level and more roads getting slushy or even snow packed, depending on your elevation.