Winter storm warning in effect through Sunday

Staff report
The National Weather Service in Grand Junction issued a winter storm warning through Sunday for Pitkin, Gunnison and Eagle counties.
National Weather Service |

The National Weather Service in Grand Junction is predicting heavy snow today, continuing on and off throughout the weekend with as much as 20 inches of snow by Sunday night.

The National Weather Service issued a winter-storm warning Thursday afternoon, noting that winds could gust as high as 35 miles per hour today, followed by strong northeast winds Saturday.

Visibility could be reduced to less than half a mile at times, and roads will be icy and snowpacked with blowing and drifting snow.

Joel Gratz, a meteorologist and founder of the powder forecasting site, doesn’t anticipate steady snowfall during the storm.

“Instead, we’ll see waves of heavier snow and times of lighter snow as the storm wobbles and energy circulates counter-clockwise around the center of the storm,” he wrote in his Thursday forecast.

The storm’s wind direction — from the south, southeast and east — is favorable for the southern mountains and areas near and east of the Continental Divide, according to Gratz. It’s not favorable for all other areas, he wrote, “so to get snow at mountains that aren’t in the south or east of the divide, we’ll need to rely on waves of energy and lift to overwhelm the bad wind direction.”

Snow totals could reach about 10 inches for most mountains, 10 to 20 inches for the southern mountains and as much as 30 inches around Wolf Creek, Gratz predicts. Areas near and east of the divide could see 20 to 40 inches.

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center is predicting increased avalanche danger into the weekend for the Aspen zone.

“As the new storm snow starts to accumulate, the threat from storm-snow avalanches will increase by (today),” according to Brian Lazar’s forecast. “This trend will continue through the weekend, so be attentive to rapidly changing conditions.”