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High winds expected across Front Range, foothills on Tuesday

NWS wind reports Jan 4 2022.jpg
Posted at 5:38 AM, Jan 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-04 14:03:24-05

Strong and gusty winds are expected throughout the foothills, Front Range and eastern plains on Tuesday, though the risk of fire remains low thanks to recent snow.

The National Weather Service out of Boulder said it would have issued fire-related weather alerts on Tuesday if it hadn't just snowed, but many of the areas expecting high wind are still covered in snow. The NWS noted that fire danger is elevated on the eastern plains where less snow fell on Friday.

Boulder County Safety Officer Todd Legler said in a brief update Tuesday morning that Boulder County residents should avoid traveling in the neighborhoods that were damaged in the Marshall Fire because the structures may collapse in the wind. This also applies to chimneys, he said.

Multiple High Wind Warnings are in place or will go into effect this morning. All of the alerts expire at 5 p.m. Tuesday.

The first warning is already in effect for Rocky Mountain National Park, the Indian Peaks, the mountains of Summit County, the Mosquito Range, and the Front Range foothills, NWS reported. Winds will blow 35 to 50 mph in these areas, with the strongest gusts reaching 80 mph. As of 10:53 a.m., Berthoud Pass already had a recording of 91 mph gust Tuesday.

The strength of the wind will increase "sharply" early Tuesday and will gradually decrease this afternoon, according to NWS. Temperatures in the foothills and urban corridor will stay mild.

Make sure to secure any loose objects outside and be prepared for blowing and drifting snow. Drivers should consider not traveling on north-south highways on Tuesday, especially if they're driving high-profile vehicles.

A second warning will begin at 10 a.m. Tuesday around the areas of Fort Collins, Logan County, northern Weld County, Phillips County, Sedgwick County and Washington County, according to the NWS.

Winds are expected to blow 30-40 mph, with gusts up to 65 mph. They will increase this morning and peak early this afternoon before decreasing by Wednesday morning.

Drifting snow is possible in these areas as well. Drivers should also stay aware of this warning if they are in high-profile vehicles.

The third warning, which is in the Colorado Springs vicinity, and a fourth, which covers the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Teller County and the Rampart Range, are in place for winds blowing 30 to 40 mph with gusts up to 60 or 65 mph. High elevations in the Sangre de Cristo range may see gusts up to 80 mph. The winds in these areas will be strong enough to blow down trees and power lines, so outages are possible. Drivers in high-profile vehicles will also likely have trouble traveling.

In addition to the warnings about high wind, the state will see another snowstorm Tuesday and Wednesday.

Snow will first develop in the northern mountains on Tuesday before spreading to lower elevations and the plains by Wednesday afternoon, according to the NWS. Snow on the plains will stay light.

The NWS is estimating the following totals through Thursday morning:

  • Estes Park: 3-4 inches
  • Fort Collins: 3 inches
  • Boulder: 2-3 inches
  • Granby: 8-12 inches
  • Steamboat Springs: 8-12 inches
  • Kremmling: 6 inches
  • Denver: 1-2 inches
  • Evergreen: 2-3 inches
  • Vail: 12-18 inches
  • Breckenridge: 6-8 inches
  • Fairplay: 2-3 inches
  • Castle Rock: 1 inch