Storms expected to pummel Colorado on Wednesday making travel 'impossible,' powder day imminent | SteamboatToday.com

Storms expected to pummel Colorado on Wednesday making travel ‘impossible,’ powder day imminent

A Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club athlete cuts through powder on the face of Howelsen Hill in 2017. (File photo by Joel Reichenberger)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — A massive storm is expected to pound the entire state Wednesday, bringing blizzard conditions to the Front Range and significant snowfall to the Steamboat Springs area.

On Wednesday, a moist, warm system moving in from the southwest will mix with a strong, cold storm from the Gulf of Alaska, and it’s forecasted to create a zone of low pressure equivalent to that of a Category 2 hurricane.

Weather

Keep up with the conditions:

• Find the latest forecast and recent weather stories here.
• View Steamboat webcams here.
• Find information from the National Weather Service, including storm warnings and advisories at wrh.noaa.gov
• The Colorado Department of Transportation provides road conditions, closures and traffic cameras at cotrip.org.
• For travel information by phone, call 511 (in Colorado) or dial 303-639-1111.
• Find information about avalanche danger and conditions from the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.
• For flight information, visit flightview.com/traveltools.

"It’s actually fairly rare to have such a strong storm west of the Mississippi," said local meteorologist Mike Weissbluth, who runs snowalarm.com.

On the ground, this is expected to create blizzard conditions on the Front Range and eastern plains. Many metro-area schools, colleges and churches had already announced closures Tuesday night.

"Travel (Wednesday) is going to be difficult or impossible," Weissbluth said. "It's going to be worse the closer you get to the Front Range."

He likened the collision of storm systems to a scene in the 1984 film Ghostbusters, when the Ghostbusters trio is chasing their initial ghost, Slimer.

"Remember they talked about when the streams meet? They both have the ray guns, and they’re like 'don’t cross the streams,’ Weissbluth said. “I’m looking at the atmosphere here, and we basically have a crossing of the streams. Whenever I look at this, that's what I think of."

But worry not. Weissbluth said Steamboat likely won't have to defeat a giant marshmallow man, but "we'll probably have giant powder puffs."

While the bulk of the storm — and the snow — is forecasted to hit the other side of the Continental Divide, Weissbluth is calling for 6 to 12 inches of snow on the mountain by Thursday morning, with several more inches of snowfall after Steamboat Resort's 5 a.m. snow report.

"Even though the center of (the storm) is over southeastern Colorado, we're going to feel strong winds," he said. "It appears after the front comes through in the morning, we'll have northwest winds turning to northerly and then perhaps even northeasterly as the storm spins up the Front Range."

Depending on how the storm swings, it could lift some moisture from the Gulf of Mexico over the mountains to create even heavier snowfall in Steamboat, he said.

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center forecasted considerable avalanche danger at all elevations in the Steamboat Springs area Wednesday. The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Weather Advisory for Routt County through Wednesday night.

"For those who are winter weary, there is good news behind this storm," he said.

He's forecasting cold temperatures Thursday. A possible inversion Friday morning will likely keep those temperatures down before some sunshine warms the area up again.

"It does look like we do have a break in the winter weather that will last into mid next week at this point," he said.

To reach Eleanor Hasenbeck, call 970-871-4210, email ehasenbeck@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @elHasenbeck.

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