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Cold temps break records in Denver; avalanche warnings issued for Colorado mountains

Another round of light snow for metro area Wednesday evening
Posted at 10:49 AM, Feb 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-23 18:13:41-05

DENVER – The cold weather this week has broken two Denver records that have stood for more than 100 years, and it will stick around for the next couple of days.

Denver set a new record low maximum temperature for Feb. 22 of 8 degrees, breaking the old record of 13 degrees that was set in 1913. Wednesday’s low temperature was -7 degrees, breaking the old record low for Feb. 23 of -4 degrees set in 1899, according to the National Weather Service in Boulder.

Wind chill advisories remain in effect until noon for the eastern plains and parts of the metro area, and temperatures should climb into the low teens in the metro area on Wednesday.

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While the sun had poked out in Denver Wednesday morning, another round of snow is expected to develop for the metro area and northeast Colorado Wednesday afternoon into early Thursday morning, according to the NWS, and drop some light snow this evening along the Front Range, while the mountains could see some heavier bursts of snow.

Late Wednesday or early Thursday morning, another half-inch to 1 1/2 inches could fall over the plains. The I-25 corridor should see another inch or two of snow, with 2-3 inches possible near Boulder and Fort Collins. And the mountains could pick up another 2-5 inches, the NWS said in an afternoon update.

Expected snowfall between 5 p.m. Wednesday and 5 p.m. Thursday as the storm cycle comes to an end.

Low temperatures overnight should be near zero or a couple degrees below zero. Because of the wind, the wind chill advisory over the eastern plains and Palmer Divide will stay in effect.

Winter storm warnings remain in effect until Thursday for the San Juan Mountains, the Pikes Peak area, parts of the Sawatch Mountains, the Sangre de Cristo and Wet Mountains, the Elkhead and Park Mountains, and the Gore and Elk Mountains for widespread snow.

The areas that see the heaviest snow could see up to 3-4 feet, the National Weather Service said. Wolf Creek Pass reported 25 inches of snow Wednesday morning, and U.S. 550 is closed in southwestern Colorado, as some locations in the area are reporting well over a foot of snow.

The NWS in Grand Junction forecasters said some SNOTEL locations in the San Juan Mountains likely have close to three feet of snow.

“Some SNOTELs are reporting close to 2.5 inches of [snow-water equivalent]. Using a 10:1 ratio, this equates to 25 inches of new snow but as temperatures remain around 20F, this snow ratio is on the low side. They probably have closer to 3 feet of snow and we’re still not done. Good news,” forecasters wrote.

Because of the heavy snow on top of some weak layers that have formed over the past month, the Colorado Avalanche Information Center issued avalanche warnings for the Northern and Southern San Juan zones, as well as the Gunnison, Grand Mesa and Aspen zones. Avalanche danger is rated high in those five zones, as well as in the Sangre de Cristo zone.

Avalanche danger is rated as considerable in the Front Range, Sawatch Range, Vail and Summit County and Steamboat and Flat Tops zones.

The CAIC forecast said human triggered avalanches are very likely Wednesday and can be triggered from below or from a distance. The avalanche warning is currently set to expire Thursday at 6 p.m.

The snow this week has boosted the statewide snowpack back to 94% of median as of Wednesday morning.

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