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Blizzard warnings for Denver, northeast Colorado for Wednesday's storm

Blizzard hits Colorado on Wednesday
Posted: 6:08 AM, Mar 12, 2019
Updated: 2019-03-13 18:05:29-04
People skiing around Sloan Lake 2019
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UPDATE (4:04 P.M.): We have a new forecast story regarding when the blizzard will end and what to expect heading into Thursday morning.

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DENVER — From 60 degrees in Denver today to a blizzard tomorrow – Colorado's March storms can be pretty intense and that's exactly what we're going to see with this next one.

A powerful storm is spinning out of northern New Mexico and move across southeastern Colorado on Wednesday. This storm will bring rain and thunder, heavy, wet snow and very strong winds with blizzard conditions as it tracks to the northeast.

MORE: School closings and delays | Weather page | Traffic conditions

A blizzard warning is in effect from 10 a.m. Wednesday to midnight Thursday for areas including Denver, Aurora, Greeley and the south metro area. Blizzard warnings are set to go into effect for much of northeastern Colorado from noon Wednesday until noon Thursday. Heavy snow, very strong winds and extreme blowing and drifting will close roads and highways in the warned area.

Between 5 and 8 inches of snow are expected along the I-25 corridor and winds could gust up to 60 mph. Snow amounts on the southeast side of the Denver Metro area will be in the 8 to 12 inch range, but the blowing and drifting will be the biggest problem.

Schools and airlines were already announcing closures and canceled flights on Tuesday ahead of Wednesday's storm.

Avalanche danger remains a concern in the mountains. Recent heavy snows and strong winds extreme avalanche conditions over most of our mountains. Although avalanche mitigation work has helped, the new storm will increase the danger again.

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In advance of the storm, mild air moved into eastern Colorado. Tuesday afternoon temperatures were in the 60s across much of the plains, with some readings in the middle 70s in southeast Colorado.

In the mountains, new snow amounts through early morning will be 3 to 6 inches for most areas, with some locally heavier amounts. The rest of the snow will fall through Wednesday afternoon with a total of 12 to 18 inches expected.

Rain can be expected overnight through early morning in Denver and across the eastern plains. The rain will change to snow between 8 AM and 10 AM.

For Denver and the I-25 Corridor, the most intense part of this storm will be from 3 PM Wednesday until Midnight on Thursday. Heavy, wet snow and very strong winds will create dangerous driving conditions and possible road closures - expect many cancellations and delays as well as a lousy evening commute!

Some power outages will be possible over eastern Colorado as the strong winds and snow will cause transmission lines to swing - creating a phenomena called "galloping conductors". The swinging lines can get close enough to each other to short out - causing the power to fail. Have flashlights ready Wednesday evening and overnight!

By Thursday, the storm will have caused numerous road closures across the northeast plains - some roads in eastern Aurora will be closed in the morning. Snow will diminish as the storm will be racing to the northeast away from Colorado. Snow showers and winds will diminish, but it will stay chilly. Highs will be in the 30s on the plains and 20s in the mountains.

Friday through the weekend will be dry with a warming trend. Highs will reach the low 40s on Friday under sunny skies. Saturday and Sunday will be mostly sunny statewide with highs in the low 50s on the plains, upper 30s to low 40s in the mountains.