A storm poised to bring a dramatic drop in temperatures will threaten Colorado with accumulating snow on Thursday night into Friday.
The snow will arrive less than 24 hours after near-record warmth, severe thunderstorms and a high fire threat across the Colorado Front Range.
A storm will rapidly intensify as it crosses the Rockies and emerges into the central Plains, manufacturing its own cold air in the process.
Temperatures can plummet up to 45 degrees Fahrenheit from the highest point on Thursday to the lowest point on Friday morning.
“The warm and dry weather that has been prevalent throughout March will come to a drastic end,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Ryan Adamson said.
Precipitation will begin as rain at the onset of the storm across the Front Range, including Denver, before a changeover to snow occurs early Friday morning.
“Snow accumulations will be 1 to 3 inches in the city, but this will be a big change for residents who have enjoyed a warm and snowless month, as only a trace has fallen from March 1 to March 22,” Adamson said.
Denver averages 7.5 inches of snow during the first 22 days of March.
The highest peaks across the Colorado Rockies will be cold enough to start out and stay all snow.
“In the high mountains and southern foothills, including the Palmer Divide, amounts will be at least 6 to 12 inches,” Adamson said.
The snow could come down heavily enough to overcome the warm ground.
Roadways will begin wet before turning slushy and snow-covered as the snow falls at a faster rate and the ground begins to cool.
Portions of interstates 25 and 70 will be dangerous for travel due to reduced visibility and slick spots. Motorists will need to slow down in order to lower the risk of spinouts and multi-vehicle accidents.
“By Friday afternoon, precipitation will end and temperatures will top out in the upper 40s to around 50 in Denver, melting much of the snow that falls,” Adamson said.
Gusty, locally damaging winds past 40 mph will whip during and after the storm across southeastern Colorado and into the southern Plains.
The winds will cause areas of blowing snow and dust, and perhaps tree and power line damage.
Winds will calm and drier weather will move in for the first half of the weekend. Wintry weather will return to the Colorado Rockies, but spare Denver, late Saturday into Sunday.