A third punch from a low-pressure system that has fed snow over Southwest Colorado since last week is expected to arrive Monday evening and could bring up to 2 inches to Cortez before it departs Tuesday evening.
“The best potential for snow will be late Monday and overnight into early Tuesday morning. It looks like we have the potential for some good snow bands to move in,” said Matt Aleska, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction.
The last wave from the storm, like the previous two, should favor the southern San Juan Mountains, Aleska said.
Telluride and Silverton can expect between 4 to 8 inches before the storm clears out late Tuesday, he said.
The valleys along the U.S. Highway 160 corridor should receive from 2 inches to 4 inches. Cortez should expect 2 inches with deeper accumulations expected in Durango and Pagosa Springs.
A winter weather advisory is in effect from 5 p.m. Monday through 5 p.m. Tuesday for the Four Corners region, including the Dolores and Animas river basins.
The advisory expects up to 4 inches in the lower valleys.
“Plan on slippery road conditions. The hazardous conditions could impact the morning and evening commute,” the advisory states.
Dry air should move over Southwest Colorado late Tuesday and a high-pressure system will establish itself over the Four Corners from Wednesday through Friday evening, when another snowstorm is expected to move in.
Aleska said it’s too early to estimate snowfall from the storm expected late Friday.
“We are in a more active pattern, and it looks like every few days we can expect a system to come through,” he said.
After Friday’s storm, he said, another band of snow looks to move over the Four Corners on Feb. 3.
A high-pressure system over the Pacific Northwest has broken down, and that system had been blocking moisture from the Pacific from moving into the southern Rocky Mountains and the Four Corners, Aleska said.
The Colorado Department of Transportation announced winter operations work will cause significant delays Monday on Coal Bank, Molas and Red Mountain passes.
“Work will take place throughout much of the morning along the entire corridor,” CDOT said. “The area is receiving a significant amount of snow. Motorists will encounter a lengthy delay and are urged to allow for extra travel time.”
Chain and traction laws remained in effect on Monday morning for those passes, as well as Wolf Creek Pass.
Jim Andrus, a Cortez weather watcher, reported Cortez received 3.9 inches of snow over 48 hours on Sunday and Monday.
Through Monday, Cortez has received 6.6 inches of snow for the month. For the entire month of January, Cortez averages 9.7 inches of snow.
Since Oct. 1, Cortez has received 15.2 inches of snow. The average snowfall from Oct. 1 to Jan. 31 for Cortez is 21.2 inches, Andrus said.
Enough snow fell in Durango Sunday and early Monday for schools to be canceled.
The Colorado Avalanche Information Center issued an avalanche watch for the San Juan Mountains.
“Expect an additional 8 to 12 inches of new snow by midday on Tuesday bringing the multi-day snow total close to 4 feet in some areas,” the CAIC wrote. “Natural avalanches are likely with heavy snowfall on Tuesday morning. Large dangerous human-triggered avalanches are likely throughout the day on Tuesday.”