DENVER – Officials with the National Weather Service in Boulder are warning drivers in the Colorado high country to expect white-out conditions as a combination of strong winds and snow rakes the mountains Wednesday night into Thursday.
Gusts of up to 80 to 90 mph have been common along and east of the Continental Divide for elevations above 9,000 feet on Wednesday, First Alert Weather Chief Meteorologist Mike Nelson said.
NWS officials said drivers can expect the white-out conditions at times near high ridges and passes. In the foothills, drivers of “high-profile vehicles” will want to use extra caution, NWS officials warned.
The combination of high winds and heavy snow will make travel in the mountains very hazardous tonight through Thursday morning. We are starting to see wind gusts around 80 mph in the mountains. #COwx pic.twitter.com/a9H9YyRnCH— NWS Boulder (@NWSBoulder) February 14, 2019
The strong winds are part of a powerful jet stream flow over the central Rockies. It’s this high-altitude river of air that is helping to produce heavy snow in the mountains, Nelson says.
Nelson said the winds will relax quite a bit by midday and the snow in the mountains will let up for a few hours.
Another series of storm systems will begin to affect Colorado over the next several days. These storms will be racing along in the jet stream flow and will mostly impact the mountains. Snow will redevelop in the high country and will continue through early Friday with accumulations of 6 to 12 inches, according to Nelson.