Up to a foot of snow is expected to hit the high mountain passes Sunday in Southwest Colorado, which means the drive could get hairy for drivers returning to Denver via Wolf Creek Pass after a weekend of Snowdown revelry in Durango.
“Definitely take your time driving,” Jimmy Fowler, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction, cautioned would-be travelers. “It could get pretty windy, with blowing snow and reduced visibility. Add that with slick road conditions, and it can definitely lead to some hazardous travel.”
The incoming storm is expected to hit Southwest Colorado late Saturday, early Sunday.
In Durango and lower elevations, because temperatures are expected to reach 42 degrees Sunday, the moisture is expected to appear as rain or a rain-snow mix. Fowler said the best chance for snow at lower elevations is late Saturday night, though only an inch is expected to accumulate.
The high country is a different story.
Fowler said snow will start falling Saturday night and will continue through Sunday afternoon. During that time, up to a foot of snow is expected.
Travel on area mountain passes – Coal Bank, Molas, Lizard Head, Red Mountain and Wolf Creek – is expected to be affected by the storm.
The popular OpenSnow.com is in agreement with the National Weather Service’s call for up to a foot of snow in the mountains.
Joel Gratz, a meteorologist for OpenSnow, said the forecast is “holding steady” for the Saturday-Sunday storm. He said 6 to 12 inches could be on the ground by Sunday afternoon and that “the warmer temperatures will likely lead to thicker, denser snow.”
While the forecast is good news for drought-stricken Southwest Colorado, which hasn’t had a significant snowstorm in about two weeks, it may complicate the ride home for Front Range residents visiting Durango for Snowdown.
Fowler said another storm system is expected to hit the area late Monday and into Tuesday. That storm, which should be colder than this weekend’s, has the potential to bring snow to Durango and surrounding valleys.