Parts of state brace for heavy snow |

Parts of state brace for heavy snow

The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

Scattered rain and snow fell across parts of Colorado on Thursday ahead of a bigger storm expected to sock the Rocky Mountain foothills with up to 18 inches of snow.

The worst conditions were expected Friday, with winds of up to 30 mph and significant snowfall before dawn, said Dave Metze, a National Weather Service forecaster in Pueblo. Most of the storm will hit east of the divide, although some snow was already falling this afternoon in Summit County.

“It’s springtime in the Rockies,” he said.

Denver International Airport, where runways were closed for 45 hours during a blizzard before Christmas, got ready early.

Contractors were brought in to help move snow, and more than 100 pieces of equipment were available for clearing the airfield. Fifty more were available for surrounding roads.

Airport officials were ready to send 120 workers out in 12-hour shifts around the clock through the storm. DIA managers huddled with staff, airlines and the Federal Aviation Administration before the first flakes fell to try to keep flights on schedule.

By afternoon, forecasters were warning of a blizzard for extreme southeast Colorado.

That part of the state was hit hard by the December blizzard and by a March 28 tornado that killed one person and left nearly 50 homes destroyed or so badly damaged they were uninhabitable.

A winter storm warning was issued beginning at midnight for northern and eastern Colorado.

Metze expected the storm, hovering around Nevada and Arizona earlier Thursday, to bring 5-10 inches of snow to the Colorado Springs area, 5 inches to Pueblo and around 10 inches to areas south of Pueblo by Friday night.

“It’s going to be a nasty day for traveling,” he said.

The Denver area was expected to get 6 to 12 inches of snow, National Weather Service meteorologist Kyle Fredin said.

He expected the highest snowfall totals in mountains east of the Continental Divide, bypassing Aspen/Snowmass.

On Wednesday, the weather service had forecast up to a foot of snow in the mountains by Friday. By Thursday afternoon, the agency was calling for 2 to 4 inches in the Aspen area overnight and snow showers with no accumulation on Friday. Sunny skies are forecast by Saturday.

The snow will bring welcome moisture to southwest Colorado, where the snowpack was down to 58 percent of average. The statewide average Thursday was 75 percent.

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