NWS upgrades to winter storm warning for Aspen, Snowmass this weekend
Travel will be difficult in most of Colorado through Monday with pending snowstorm
Weather service officials updated their forecast for the coming snow storm and have upgraded to a winter storm warning, which starts at 11 p.m. Friday and goes through Monday morning.
In Friday’s update, forecasters at the National Weather Service’s Grand Junction office said the storm should start overnight Friday and could drop nearly two feet of snow in the Aspen and Snowmass area by Monday.
“Total snow accumulations of 10 to 20 inches, with locally higher amounts up to 2 feet possible above timberline,” said Friday’s updates on the pending storm. “Winds gusting as high as 40 mph.”
The bulk of this storm is still tracking toward north-central Colorado. The warning, which starts at 11 p.m. Friday and goes to 6 a.m. Monday, covers parts of western Colorado and ski communities including Aspen, Snowmass, Vail, Crested Butte and Telluride.
“A strong storm system will impact much of the Rocky Mountain region Saturday through Sunday night, bringing cooler and unsettled weather. Significant snow accumulations are likely across the mountains of northeast Utah and western Colorado mainly along the (Continental) Divide,” said Friday’s update. “Expect travel impacts with snow across the High Country with rain mainly impacting the lower elevations. Dry weather returns Monday, followed by another disturbance for Tuesday.“
State officials are asking people to avoid traveling in the Colorado mountains and around Denver and the Front Range. In a news conference Thursday afternoon, Gov. Jared Polis said he is making available about 50 members of the Colorado National Guard to help with search and rescues as needed.
“I encourage you to be in a relatively safe location from shortly after sunrise Saturday through Sunday afternoon if it’s snowing in your area,” the governor said Thursday.
A number of Front Range events are being canceled or postponed this weekend. The Aspen High girls swim team will wait until next week to travel to the Class 3A girls swimming state championship, which was moved to Monday in the northern Denver suburb of Thornton.
Most airlines are canceling flights in and out of Denver International Airport this weekend and waiving change fees. Travelers in Aspen should call their airlines and check aspenairport.com for updates.
Here's a loop of the latest forecast snow accumulations starting early Saturday morning through Sunday night. The times given are the end of the period ("11 AM" is snow from 5 AM to 11 AM). pic.twitter.com/uIrw3lDSwB— NWS Boulder (@NWSBoulder) March 12, 2021
Travelers taking to the roads can check for closures and road conditions at cotrip.org and locally sign up for alerts from Pitkin and Eagle counties.
Those who are thinking about going into the backcountry should check conditions at the Colorado Avalanche Information Center website. The state agency has forecast dangerous conditions into the weekend and for the start of next week.
“Avalanche conditions will be changing this weekend as new snow accumulates. Re-evaluate frequently as the snow piles up,” CAIC’s Friday update warns.
The local forecasters aspenweather.net is predicting 10 to 16 inches of snow for Aspen Mountain and Snowmass over the weekend by Monday morning. And then another lighter storm on Tuesday. For more updates go to aspentimes.com/news/weather.
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Warm and dry conditions to start the winter have kept all but the higher elevation slopes free of snow. That is expected to change by the end of the week and the avalanche hazard could start to climb, according to Colorado Avalanche Information Center.