Weather without the hype: Details becoming clear on weekend storm

Weather

This story was last updated Thursday. Tap here for the latest on the storm.


If you’ve been with FOX21 Storm Team Meteorologist Emily Roehler and FOX21 Storm Team Chief Meteorologist Matt Meister through the week, you’ve been walking alongside us through the forecast process. We’ve taken you deeper behind the scenes than we normally do, primarily because of some irresponsible sharing of raw model snow forecasts late in the weekend and on Monday by some and a resulting high interest you had in the weekend forecast.

It’s been a good opportunity for us to highlight who the FOX21 Storm Team is and our commitment to you and your family. We aren’t here to scare. We are here to help you prepare. We don’t use gimmicks. We work hard to give you the honest truth, what we know and what we don’t know with information you need that respects your time and intelligence. We’re proud of who our weather team is.

Over the last few days We’ve shared with you a number of images of the upper level storm forecast between the American medium-range forecast model (called the GFS – Global Forecast System) and the European medium-range forecast model (ECMWF or Euro for slang). They have had continued disagreement with each other each time we’ve looked at them…completely normal and expected when a storm is 5-8 days away. Use the slider below to see that they’re really close on the strength and position of the low over eastern Colorado on Sunday morning.

I haven’t changed my thinking on timing of deteriorating conditions this morning. This is the same Out On The Roads graphic I shared with you in my article on Wednesday.

Below you see a series of images showing what can be expected on Saturday and through the rest of the weekend. Showers increase Friday night and by Saturday morning we should have widespread rain (displayed in green), a rain/snow mix (displayed in pink), and snow (displayed in blue) across the region. There may even be some thunderstorms over the eastern plains. Dry air is still expected to punch into the southeast plains Saturday afternoon as we prepare for the arrival of the storm’s circulation Saturday night. As the sun comes up on Sunday, that dry air will have expanded to the north just to the east of the storm’s center.

Sunday will bring the backside of the storm and the strong wind developing will create the usual donut hole between downtown Colorado Springs and Pueblo, while the Wet and Sangre de Cristo ranges continue to get snow as the north wind pushes into the terrain. Notice the plains are still in the 40s on Sunday and this is one of the reasons we don’t expect snow to accumulate much, if at all in these areas. In fact, your best chance of snow east of Highway 71 along Highway 50 will come early Monday morning as the storm pulls away.

So here’s how much snow we’re expecting through the weekend over southern Colorado. Keep in mind the snow Friday night and early Saturday will be a very wet and sloppy type snow, but transition to a fluffier type snow Saturday night.

We expect a very tight gradient of really heavy snow to just a couple inches across El Paso County. Just to the northwest of downtown Colorado Springs we’ll see more than a foot of snow, while Fountain, Hanover and Truckton may only get an inch or a couple inches.

Taking a look to our N the heart of the heavy snow will fall over the front range and front range mountains west of Denver… isolated areas there see over 2′! If you are planning a weekend of skiing, get there Friday and don’t plan to leave until Monday. Parts of I-70 and I-25 will likely see periodic closures through the height of the storm.

Regardless of how much snow you get, as we hit the backside of the storm Saturday night and Sunday we’ll see blizzard conditions develop, especially over the Palmer Divide east of the mountains and across most of Colorado Springs. Gusts may near 50 mph at times with near zero visibility and blowing/drifting snow. It’s one of the storms where drifts may near 5-7′ in some areas. Even though snow will be done falling early Monday morning, parts of eastern El Paso County may still have some blowing snow.

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