ASPEN - Get ready, Aspen, for what could be a fairly powerful winter storm Friday.
Forecasters for the National Weather Service and the local Web service www.aspenweather.net are calling for the first significant snowfall since the two that occurred during Christmas week.
The expected 6 to 10 inches on the ski areas and 4 to 6 inches in town Friday morning will be followed by bitterly low temperatures Friday night and Saturday, said Ryan Boudreau of aspenweather.net. Snow showers could linger through the rest of Friday and early Saturday, he said.
The weather service is predicting snowfall amounts of 1 to 2 feet in the higher elevations, although its forecast covers a greater geographical area and is not as honed in on Aspen as the service provided by Boudreau and fellow weather prognosticator Cory Gates.
A Weather Service statement said the storm, which hits eastern Utah on Thursday night and western Colorado on Friday morning, will bring gusting winds and has the potential to be dangerous and life-threatening for those caught unprepared.
Boudreau said he and Gates aren't predicting a massive dump for Aspen.
"Any snow is a good snow," he said, adding that the San Juan Mountains - including the resorts of Telluride and Wolf Creek - probably will see greater accumulations from the upcoming storm than the Aspen area.
Although it's difficult to pinpoint the exact time of the snowfall, Boudreau said most of it is likely to occur between 7 a.m. and noon Friday.
"It's going to be light, fluffy snow," he said. "There's not going to be much water content with this snow. We need kind of a wet snowstorm around here to get the bondage on the rocks and the ice that's out there. We could use the wet stuff. This storm is going to be very dry."
A minor storm system, bringing just a few inches, may slide through the area Sunday and Monday. It should be followed by another lull in snowfall from Jan. 16 to 20, Boudreau said.
The powder situation looks good late in the month, during the week of ESPN's Winter X Games in Aspen (Jan. 24 to 27) and afterward, he said.
"The month ends up good," Boudreau said. "A snowier, unsettled pattern comes in toward the end of the month."
The predicted Friday storm is being fueled by a low-pressure trough in the Northwest. The storms late Thursday and early Friday will move northwest to southeast, a direction that works best for Aspen-area snowfall, according to Boudreau.
Low temperatures Saturday and Sunday are expected to fall below zero, and high temperatures will be in the mid-teens, the Weather Service predicts.