The storm that we’ve all been waiting for is here. It made itself known initially by creating a wall of dust that was picked up by the intense winds transporting the cold air from the north.
Can you tell when the cold front passed?
Lots of dust, dirt and pollen were just flown about. #HereWeGo #Denver #COwx pic.twitter.com/0Uq8Gucxra
— Rain or Shine I’m Andy Stein (@AndySteinWx) May 20, 2022
Snow is already falling across some of the higher terrains above 7,000’ this morning and it will continue to snow there all day long. Snow levels will gradually lower through Friday with all snow falling in and around the Denver metro by the evening commute.
This storm is going to pack a serious punch. We have a perfect recipe of weather conditions setting up that will deliver the Front Range with one of its biggest May snowstorms in recent memory. We did squeeze out 3.9 inches of snow in May of 2019 but this storm could deliver more snow than that.
The cold front that barreled through is producing upslope winds which creates moisture.. We already will have adequate moisture in the atmosphere so the upslope with only aid in creating more moisture. On top of this, literally, the jet stream will be roaring and due to our placement under that jet, even more enhancement of moisture will occur. Continuing with the perfect recipe is the fact that we’ll be seeing bands of enhanced snowfall rates that could really allow snow to stack up quickly.
Of course, we are in late May and the sun angle will hinder snow totals initially, but some of the heaviest snow may fall after the sun goes down Friday night. Road temperatures are extremely warm thanks to the near 90-degree heat we had on Thursday so snow will have to overcome that as well. But with the advertised snowfall rates expected, it won’t take long for roads to become slushy and eventually snow packed.
Regardless, a very strong winter storm has begun to impact the area and will continue to do so through Saturday afternoon at least.
The National Weather Service in Boulder has issued winter storm warnings for this accumulating snow for tough travel through Saturday afternoon and because there is expected to be a lot of damage to trees from this heavy, wet snow. It takes 3 to 4 inches of wet snow to break tree limbs. Any more than that has the potential to bring down fully leafed trees. As a result, we could see power outages, especially in areas above 6,500 feet where the heaviest snow will fall.
Here’s a look at the current forecast for snow totals.
Expected Snowfall by Saturday Afternoon
How to protect Colorado plants and gardens from this weekend’s snowstorm
Denver weather: Major late-season storm to drop feet of snow, wreak havoc on travel this weekend
Denver weather: Showers expected to follow sunny morning Wednesday
Denver weather: High fire danger Thursday followed by cold storm Friday with chance of snow
Denver weather: Storms, showers could hit the region Tuesday afternoon
The Foothills from Estes Park to Conifer can expect 12 to 24 inches of snow from this storm by Saturday afternoon. Rocky Mountain National Park and some of the highest elevations will see up to 30 inches of snow. The Palmer Divide near Castle Rock and Monument should expect 12 to 18 inches of snow. Colorado Springs, and the Denver metro should brace for 4 to 8 inches of snow. This storm has been trending a bit colder, and colder air temperatures mean that more snow could add up in Denver. So be alert that we could be talking about greater than a half-foot of snow in Denver.
Again, big impacts to trees and travel are expected. The worst travel will be found in the mountains by the afternoon and across the metro after the sun goes down. Tree damage can be expected overnight to Saturday across the region.
Saturday and Sunday morning, temperatures are supposed to fall into the 20s region-wide causing a deep freeze. Take the necessary precautions for irrigation and any plants that may be sensitive to the cold.
Here are the latest forecast amounts for the major highways. There are some hefty totals like at Cameron Pass as there will be 19-30″ there! There is high confidence in hazardous travel conditions in the mountains and foothills for this event. #COwx pic.twitter.com/1kboFrlso5
— NWS Boulder (@NWSBoulder) May 20, 2022
This will be an impactful event and as we look further ahead into next week, some additional moisture (rain at lower elevations and snow at higher elevations) looks to continue for some. Denver will climb back into the 70s and 80s by the middle to end of the week.
Winter Storm Severity and Preparedness