The final blow from this week’s three-punch combo of snowstorms hit Southwest Colorado ahead of forecast – with Durango seeing snowfall by late morning Thursday instead of the predicted nighttime arrival.
The storm is expected to be out of the region Friday evening, with clear skies and warming temperatures expected for the weekend. The next chance of precipitation will come Tuesday, said Kris Sanders, senior meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction.
“In Durango, you’re looking at 2 inches, maybe 4 inches at the most. It’s hard to tell,” Sanders said. “Some of it might come as rain. The foothills will be closer to 4 inches.”
Cortez should see lighter accumulations, about an inch with up to 3 inches possible if heavy snowfall occurs during the coldest part of the night, he said. Pagosa Springs was looking at 4 inches to 6 inches.
“The drive in (Friday) along the (U.S. Highway 160) corridor could be pretty rough, especially around Hesperus,” Sanders said.
For the San Juan Mountains, the deepest accumulations should occur on Wolf Creek Pass, where up to 18 inches of fresh powder could fall.
Sanders said Silverton and Telluride are looking at about 4 inches of accumulation by Friday morning with a total of 6 inches possible from the storm.
The northern San Juans won’t be hit as hard as the southern mountains , he said. Ouray is looking at about 4 inches from the storm. Favored peaks in the southern San Juans could see up to 14 inches with most of the southern San Juans getting anywhere from 6 to 10 inches.
The storm will be out of the lower elevations by Friday evening, but snow flurries could continue through midnight Friday in the San Juan Mountains.
A high pressure ridge should move over the region for the weekend.
A small storm that could produce snow and rain could hit Southwest Colorado on Tuesday, Sanders said.
“It might get a little breezy Monday evening, and then you might see a quick-moving system on Tuesday, but it doesn’t look like a crazy amount of precipitation. It’s just not very strong and it’s quick-moving,” Sanders said.
As of Thursday, the Natural Resources Conservation Services Snotel map reported snowpack for the San Juan, Animas, Dolores and San Miguel river basins at 86% of the 30-year average. The Colorado Avalanche Information Center listed the avalanche danger at “moderate” for both the northern and southern San Juan Mountains.
Also as of Thursday, the U.S. Drought Monitor lists the southern portions of La Plata and Montezuma counties in “exceptional drought” and the northern portions in “extreme drought.” Most of the western half of Archuleta County is in “extreme drought” and the eastern half is in “severe drought.”