Denver weather: Snowstorm expected to pick up overnight

The weekend snowstorm expected to pummel the Colorado Front Range got off to a slow start Saturday, with snow starting later in the day and accumulating less than originally anticipated. But experts said the brunt of the storm would come after sunset.

Heavy, wet snow began falling around noon Saturday thanks to a slow-moving, low-pressure system near the Four Corners area, but little accumulated as drier air moved into the region causing snowfall to ease up. The northern foothills and portions of the I-25 corridor in Larimer County and Weld County saw the most snow Saturday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service in Boulder. Roads were slick, but transportation officials reported few accidents.

Still, officials urged residents to stay put and not travel unless absolutely necessary. Forecasters expected snowfall to increase as temperatures drop overnight and conditions become more favorable for upslope snow across the entire region from Denver to Wyoming, said meteorologist Zach Hiris.

“As the winds blow east to west, you’ll have this gradual rising motion and that helps generate extra snow because you cool the air as it goes up and that also makes it a little bit more moist,” Hiris said. “Accumulations haven’t been all that impressive today, but the set up for tonight and tomorrow looks favorable for long duration heavy snow.”

The increasing intensity of snowfall could mean 1 to 2 inches per hour overnight and into Sunday morning along the Front Range, said Kari Bowen, meteorologist at NWS Boulder. Roads may be hazardous Sunday, especially side streets and bridges, she said.

Snow is expected to continue all day Sunday and possibly into Monday morning, though it will likely lighten up as the day progresses. More than 1,800 flights out of Denver International Airport have been canceled in response to forecasts.

“It’s not going to be dumping, dumping snow for 48 hours,” Bowen said. “As the system evolves and moves, so does the intensity of the snow.”

Experts still anticipate significant accumulation across the Front Range, including 12 to 18 inches in the Denver region. Boulder and Fort Collins should expect up to 2 feet of snow, as should Castle Rock and Evergreen, while the foothills could see as much as 3 to 4 feet. Accumulation will dissipate further east, Bowen said. Places like Limon and Fort Morgan should expect 6 to 8 inches of snow.

A winter storm warning is in effect for the mountains in Vail, Aspen, Crested Butte and Snowmass areas, where experts expect 10 to 20 inches to accumulate. That lasts through 6 a.m. Monday morning.

Conditions were mostly mild along Colorado’s Western Slope Saturday, though snow is expected to pick up overnight as cold air moves in, said Megan Stackhouse, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction. Residents should expect accumulation on roadways by the morning, she said, as well as 8 to 16 inches on the mountains.

March is typically Colorado’s snowiest month, meaning residents should ready their shovels. To avoid injuries, experts recommend residents stretch first, then bend their knees, shovel just a few inches at a time and grease shovels with Pam or other oil-based lubricants.

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