The first major snowstorm of the season is expected to roll into Colorado on Sunday with the mountains around Aspen seeing up to two feet of snow by Monday evening, according to the National Weather Service.
A winter storm warning is in effect starting Sunday morning until 6 p.m. Monday for nearly all of central and western Colorado, and travel is being discouraged, especially along Interstate 70 and over mountain passes.
Along with the snow, high winds and “bitterly cold temperatures” are in the NWS forecast.
For the Aspen area, total snow accumulations of “7 to 14 inches with higher amounts nearing two feet in the higher portions of the Elk and West Elk Mountains. Winds gusting as high as 40 mph,” according to the weather service’s winter storm warning updated early Sunday morning.
The NWS is predicting most of the Colorado mountain ranges will see 6 to 12 inches, and locally higher amounts are possible “with the potential for a heavier snow band to develop and, depending on where the band sets up, snowfall totals could be much higher.”
The Aspen forecast calls for overnight lows Sunday and Monday in the single digits, and the high Monday at 32 degrees.
The Colorado Department of Transportation sent out a message Saturday night discouraging travel for the next two days.
“Chain and traction laws are likely (on I-70), so motorists should check tires before traveling and have chains or auto socks on hand,” the agency said in a news release Saturday evening. “CDOT continues to ask motorists to not travel to the high country, due to wildfire operations and evacuations. If travel in the high country is necessary, be sure to have an emergency kit in the event of road closures or delays due to winter weather.”
The drastic change in weather is expected to help the crews working on the East Troublesome (192,000 acres burned) and Cameron Peak (208,000 acres) fires burning in north central Colorado.
Those traveling through the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport should check with their airlines or go to aspenairport.com for updates. Two United flights to Denver scheduled to leave Sunday afternoon have been canceled, as of Sunday morning.
The Aspen School District is planning for middle school and high school students to return to in-person learning on Monday. District officials will send out a message by early Monday morning if classes are canceled.
This is a developing story that will be updated.