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More snow on the way for Colorado mountains as snowpack continues to increase

A couple of inches of snow on the plains through Thursday morning
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Posted at 4:26 PM, Jan 04, 2022

UPDATE (Wednesday, 2:15 p.m.): We have written a new story after the NWS Boulder upgraded the metro area and northeastern Colorado to winter weather advisories and winter storm warnings, respectively. Find the latest by clicking here.

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DENVER – Another snowstorm is on its way to Colorado Wednesday that is expected to further bolster the quickly-increasing snowpack in the mountains and bring a couple of inches of snow to the plains.

Winter storm warnings are in effect until noon Thursday for most of the mountain area across the state. In the Cameron Pass, Rocky Mountain National Park and Medicine Bow Range, 1-3 feet of snow is expected, along with winds that could gust up to 65 miles per hour.

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The snowfall forecasts for Wednesday's storm from the National Weather Service in Boulder issued Wednesday morning.

For Summit County, the Mosquito Range and Indian Peaks, 8-15 inches of snow are expected, along with similar wind gusts. At the higher elevations of the eastern Sawatch Mountains and eastern Lake County, 5-13 inches of snow are expected, along with wind gusts of up to 75 mph.

The Gore and Elk Mountains should expect 8-16 inches in the storm, while the Elkhead and Park mountains are forecast to get 1-2 feet, with some locations up to 3 feet, according to the National Weather Service. The Flat Tops could also see 8-16 inches of snow.

The snow had already started in the mountains and was moving into northern Colorado as of 11 a.m. Wednesday.

Winter weather advisories are in effect for northern Park, as well as Grand and Summit counties below 9,000 feet for 5-10 inches of snow, along with the lower elevations of Lake County and the Upper Yampa River Basin.

Winter weather advisories were also issued Wednesday for the Fort Collins and Loveland area for 2-5 inches of snow and winds gusting up to 35 miles per hour, as well as for the northeastern corner of the state, for 3-6 inches of snow and wind chills that could fall to -25 degrees.

The NWS said Wednesday morning the main cold front would move into the Denver area and plains mid-afternoon, with wind gusts of up to 35 mph expected and about 1-4 inches of snow to follow.

“Given some heavier bands still possible around rush hour might also consider an advisory for the Denver area despite low end amounts for advisory criteria,” NWS Boulder forecasters wrote in Wednesday’s forecast discussion.

Wind chill advisories are also in effect for most of the Eastern Plains, where wind chills could fall to 25 degrees below zero.

The widespread mountain snow will continue to bolster the snowpack, which has seen a massive turnaround since the first week of December, when it was near its lowest median level statewide over the past 30 years.

It sat at 51% of median levels on Dec. 7 but had jumped to 77% of median levels as of Dec. 16.

The statewide snowpack jumped to 122% of median as of Tuesday after several storms on the back end of December.

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Statewide snowpack levels as of Jan. 4, 2022.

According to the National Weather Service in Grand Junction, several areas of western and southwestern Colorado got more than 95 inches of snow in the storm cycle from Dec. 23 through Jan. 1.

That includes 170 inches at Schofield Pass west of Aspen, 125 inches at Park Reservoir east of Grand Junction, and 103 inches at Spud Mountain south of Telluride.

And as of Tuesday, all but one of Colorado’s river basins was below median for this time of the year.

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Colorado snowpack as of Jan. 3, 2022.

The Arkansas basin was at 91% of median Tuesday, but all others were near or well-above median levels – including the southwestern part of the state where snowpack had been at the lowest levels just a few weeks ago.

The San Miguel, Dolores, Animas and San Juan basin was at 142% of median Tuesday; the Gunnison basin was at 151% of median; and the Upper Rio Grande basin was at 100% of median levels.

In northern Colorado, the Upper Colorado Headwaters basin was at 125% of median as of Tuesday; the Yampa and White basin sat at 114% of median; the Laramie and North Platte basin was 120% of median; and the South Platte basin was at 110% of median.

A graphic from the Colorado Climate Center shows the difference between the mountain snowfall in December versus the plains, which were mostly dry through the fall and winter ahead of the New Year’s Eve snowstorm. Denver experienced among its warmest, and driest, back halves of a year ever this year.

You can stay updated as the storm moves into Colorado with the Denver7 weather team and can watch 24/7 live streaming weather updates and radar conditions on the free Denver7+ app.

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