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Blizzard Aims for Denver, Rapid City, Casper and Scottsbluff

A wild storm will bring plunging temperatures and heavy snow from Colorado to Minnesota during the middle of the week.

Areas from Denver to Rapid City, S.D., Casper, Wyo., and Scottsbluff, Neb., will have blizzard conditions in store spanning Monday night and Tuesday.

Several hours of whiteout conditions, combined with temperatures plunging into the teens and wind gusts between 40 and 50 mph will make for dangerous travel conditions.

The storm has the potential to drop between 1 and 2 feet of snow in north-central Colorado, southeastern Wyoming the Nebraska Panhandle and the Black Hills area of South Dakota.

Travel Impact

Travel may be very difficult or could grind to a halt along a stretch of I-25 in Colorado and Wyoming, as well as portions of I-70, I-76, I-80 and I-90 over the High Plains.

According to Winter Weather Expert Brian Wimer, "With the plunging temperatures and snowfall rates of 1 to 2 inches per hour, roads will become quickly snow-covered and icy. Slush will freeze."

The storm will be intense enough to impact flights at Denver and airports in the region.

Cold, Snow to Expand

As the storm moves away from the High Plains, wind-whipped snow is also forecast to slice northeastward across north-central Nebraska, eastern South Dakota and central and northeastern Minnesota later Tuesday into Wednesday.

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Another pocket of snow is forecast to develop over part of the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles to southwestern Kansas Tuesday night into early Wednesday.

While much of the snow that falls may melt, it is likely to be followed by a freeze-up. Even a thin coating of snow, slush and ice can make for slippery travel.

Needed Moisture

The storm system with its snow, rain and severe thunderstorms will bring much-needed moisture to hard-hit drought areas.

The storm has the potential to bring 1 to 2 inches of water over the area in the form of rain and snow that will soon melt.

The storm is hitting winter wheat areas, grassland for cattle and large tracts where corn and other crops will be planted.

Storm Synopsis

As the storm rolls slowly eastward, it will exploit a large temperature contrast (up to 80 degrees difference) over the Plains. A push of arctic air will invade the system from the north, leading to the spread of snow across a large part of the northern Plains. Temperatures could top 100 degrees in parts of Texas Tuesday.

The action of winds blowing uphill from the lower Plains to the eastern slopes of the Rockies will manufacture enough cold air for snow in the I-25 corridor. The advancing arctic air will drive temperatures down to lower levels than what would normally occur in this setup.

The difference in pressure with the storm and the arctic high pushing out of Canada will help generate the strong winds and blizzard conditions.

Thumbnail images of Denver during a blizzard by Flickr user Scorpions and Centaurs.