December 5, 2023
Posted: October 9, 2021 7:36 pm
While some areas of the US continue to swelter under a dome of unseasonably warm temperatures, parts of the Rocky Mountain region are gearing up for the first major snow event of the season.
Forecasters are predicting that a powerful winter storm will push from the Pacific Northwest into the Rockies early next week, bringing widespread heavy snowfall to the higher elevations and cold rain to the lower terrains. The areas that see the bulk of the snow may see enough of the white stuff to necessitate measurement increments of feet rather than inches. This is certainly welcome news for ski resorts looking to get a headstart on the snowpack for the season.
Before the system begins dumping snow, it will get its start as a rainmaker. Some parts of the West Coast are already the beneficiaries of this precipitation. For example, after not seeing any measurable rain since September 12, Las Vegas saw its first significant rainfall on Friday morning. This system will continue to deliver spotty showers to the lower elevations throughout the West until at least the middle of the week.
The unsettled weather pattern dominating the region over the weekend will begin to push toward the east later on Sunday. This makes Sunday the best day to get out and enjoy the fall weather for Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah. However, this calm weather will not last long. A new series of storms building up on the West Coast and Pacific Northwest will continue to advance the precipitation to the east as the week gets started.
This strong front will bring stormy conditions and substantial rain to most areas of the Pacific Northwest on Sunday and into Monday. The higher elevations of the Cascades will see this precipitation fall as snow to start the workweek.
The storm will shift to the south on Monday and Tuesday, bringing cold air and moisture to the Four Corners region. The broad band of low pressure will bring up the moisture from the Gulf of Mexico, creating conditions that may spark a winter storm.
Travelers are being advised to exercise caution and check road conditions over the area mountain passes at the beginning of the week. The most likely spots to cause problems include parts of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. This includes the areas around Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks.
The heaviest snow is expected to fall along the Interstate 25 corridor in Wyoming and along US Highway 26. Snowfall amounts up to two feet may be possible by the time the storm moves through.
The winter weather will roar in on Monday and continue into Tuesday. In addition to the higher terrains of Wyoming, the Colorado Rockies and Utah’s Wasatch Range are also expected to see measurable snowfall by the time the storm is over. Some of the lucky ski resorts in these mountain ranges could see three to six inches of snow by Wednesday.
Snow will not be the only problem for Wyoming. Strong wind gusts are also in the forecast, delivering the potential of blizzard conditions Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning. The stretch of US Highway 26 between Casper and Riverton is likely to be the epicenter of the potential blizzard.
This weather pattern will also bring unseasonably cold temperatures to a large swath of the Mountain West. Tuesday is forecast to be the coldest day of the week with the mercury dropping up to 30 degrees below normal for cities such as Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, Reno, and Phoenix. Some record lows may be challenged in the coming days as the cold temperatures expand.
The millions of residents living along Colorado’s Front Range may be wondering if they will see the first major snowfall of the year. At this point, it looks like places such as Fort Collins, Boulder, and Denver will only see a light dusting of snow. There are no significant accumulations predicted for this area.
The system will begin its exit from the Rockies on Wednesday. However, even if the threat of snow is gone, the winter cold temperatures will stay in place for a few more days.
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