DENVER – Things are relatively calm for now, but blizzard conditions Monday night through Wednesday morning could make for hazardous travel across the eastern plains, forecasters with the National Weather Service in Boulder said early Christmas Day.
Blizzard warnings will go into effect starting at 5 p.m. for portions of east central and northeast Colorado including Julesburg, Holyoke, Limon and Akron, as well as for I-70 east of Deer Trail, according to weather service officials. Snow accumulations could fall anywhere between 2 and 6 inches with wind gusts up to 55 mph.
“But even 1-2 inches can be problematic with strong winds,” officials with the NWS said early Christmas Day on X, formerly Twitter, as they recommended Coloradans avoid non-emergency/non-essential travel Monday night through early Wednesday morning for the warned area as roads will likely become slick and visibility will drop below ¼ of a mile due falling, blowing snow.
Forecasters said the snow will redevelop in the northeast plains Monday night and then spread southwest overnight and into Tuesday, impacting roads across Washington, Sedgwick, Phillip and Elbert counties, adding blowing snow and near-blizzard conditions may extend into portions of other rural counties at times, including I-76 east of Fort Morgan as well as the Palmer Divide.
A winter storm watch will also be in effect late Monday through Tuesday evening for eastern portions of the Palmer Divide, including Ponderosa Park, Elizabeth and Kiowa. The hazardous driving conditions could impact the Tuesday morning and evening commutes, forecasters said.
“Winds will be strongest across the northern plains and into Lincoln County, where gusts 50-60 mph can be expected and will create difficult travel conditions for high profile vehicles on I-76 and I-70,” NWS officials said in their latest forecast discussion, where once again they stressed that travel is “certainly ill-advised in these locations Tuesday, which would include I-70 east of about Byers or Deer Trail.”
If you must travel, NWS forecasters advise that you have a winter survival kit with you and that you drive with extreme caution and be prepared for sudden changes in visibility. The latest road conditions can be obtained by call 511 or by going to COTrip.org.
How to drive in the Colorado snow in case you’re new here or just simply forgot
Though a downslope flow will keep the Urban Corridor generally dry, some snow showers may extend into the southeastern portions of the Denver metro area at times, forecasters said.
The snow should end by daybreak Wednesday for all areas and wind speeds in the plains should slacken a little, but breezy conditions will remain in eastern areas and could lead to continued blowing snow concerns and reduced visibilities, officials with the NWS said.
“The slight warming will continue as higher pressure begins to fill in from the west, but it`s unlikely anyone other than perhaps the northern I-25 corridor will hit 50 (degrees),” according to forecasters.
As we wrap up 2023, expect pretty quiet conditions and warmer than average temperatures, in the 40s and 50s through Sunday in Denver.