A storm system following an unusual track is expected to bring snow to Southwest Colorado late Monday and Tuesday with 1 to 4 inches expected along the U.S. Highway 160 corridor and up to a foot in the San Juan Mountains.
Meteorologist Tom Renwick said different models “have been flipping and putting this storm all over the place,” but they recently aligned to predict the storm will bring snow to Southwest Colorado.
“The low is going to move in over Las Vegas and then sink down, but that should still bring snow to the Four Corners,” he said.
The National Weather Service said Monday that the San Juan Mountains could get 8 to 14 inches of snow, with the heaviest snowfall beginning Monday night.
The National Weather Service expects up to 2 inches in Cortez and 2 to 4 inches in Durango and Pagosa Springs.
The system is expected to move in around midnight Monday, but Renwick said snow could begin earlier, especially in the high country, depending on how the unusual pattern for the storm develops.
At lower elevations, a rain-snow mix might be likely during the warmest part of the day Tuesday, he said.
The storm is expected to be followed later in the week by another storm arriving Thursday and staying through Sunday.
It’s too early to predict snowfall levels for the second storm, Renwick said.
“The first storm is following an unusual pattern,” he said. “We’ve all had our eyes on it, because you don’t see this pattern very often, but we expect it’s going to be followed by another storm, and that should bring a chance of snow for you all from Thursday through Sunday.”
La Niña patterns this winter have brought below-normal snowfall to Southwest Colorado. However, Renwick said La Niña snowstorms tend to cluster in late January and February.
As of Thursday, the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Snotel reported that Southwest Colorado’s snowpack in the San Juan, Animas, Dolores and San Miguel river basins was at 69% of the 30-year average.
The snowpack in the Upper Rio Grande basin in south-central Colorado was in better shape, at 96% of the 30-year average.
The National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center estimates La Niña conditions have a 95% chance of extending through March.