A return of chilly air and a shift in the wind will allow heavy snow to fall on parts of the central Rockies and High Plains, including Denver, from late on St. Patrick's Day into early Friday.
The pattern of unseasonable warmth has come to an end over Colorado. Following weeks of temperatures of 5-10 degrees Fahrenheit above normal, temperatures will average several degrees below normal for the rest of the week. The colder air is setting the stage for travel-disrupting snow.
The worst travel conditions are expected Thursday night into Friday morning.
People should be prepared for slushy travel around the city, snow-covered roads in the mountains and potential airline delays.
The snowstorm will develop as a fresh injection of cold air is funneled uphill over Colorado prior to the end of the week.
This occurrence is common in the region during the fall, winter and spring. In fact, much of the snow around Denver occurs at the beginning and end of the winter season and overlaps part of the fall and spring.
Snowfall will range from a slushy inch or two on grassy surfaces in west-central Kansas and southwestern Nebraska to several inches in the Denver Metro area and a foot of snow over the high country in the central Colorado Rockies.
"Motorists should anticipate slippery conditions along portions of Interstate 25 from Colorado Springs, Colorado, to Cheyenne, Wyoming, and a considerable stretch of highway along I-70 from near the Kansas border, westward to the eastern slopes and passes of the Rockies," according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson.
"Where the snow begins during Thursday midday and afternoon, it may struggle to accumulate due to the March sun-effect and warm road surfaces, initially," Anderson said.
Temperatures will be held the 20s in the mountains and the 30s on the Plains on Thursday.
Road conditions can deteriorate rapidly Thursday night and remain slippery into the morning rush hour on Friday.
Temperatures will hover at chilly levels into the start of the weekend, before jumping into the 40s, 50s and 60s on Sunday. Snow that does not slowly melt on Friday will disappear over the weekend outside of the Rockies.