In mid-spring, moms’ big day may be wintry

Rain expected at low elevations; mountains brace for blast of snow

A typical Mother’s Day in the Grand Valley might be spent in shorts and a T-shirt, enjoying a picnic at the park or a hike on a local trail.

This year, though, you’re likely going to be able to give Mom a unique gift: a day sledding on Grand Mesa.

A major winter-like storm is expected to plow into western Colorado this weekend, bringing rain to the lowest elevations and potentially feet of snow to the mountains.

At a time when weather forecasters and emergency managers are oftentimes talking about temperatures tickling 90 degrees and rivers swollen with runoff, the conversation at the National Weather Service in Grand Junction has turned to attempting to remember the last time they expected a storm of this magnitude in mid-May.

“For the top of the Grand Mesa to get snow in June is entirely possible, but to have (snow) work its way down in the higher valleys now is unusual,” forecaster Joe Ramey said.

He said a low-pressure system will work through the Great Basin today and tonight, dig down into Utah, then lift northeast and intensify as it crosses western Colorado. A combination of abundant moisture and cold air will create prime precipitation conditions.

Snow levels will drop to around 5,000 feet, meaning a blanket of white should cover the Bookcliffs by Sunday morning, Ramey said.

A winter storm watch is out for most of western Colorado, the central mountains and northeastern Colorado, with a winter storm warning in effect for a slice of north-central Colorado. Forecasters say one to two feet of snow could fall in those areas by Monday morning. Ramey said some pockets of the mountains could see as much as three feet, though he’s officially capped his forecast at two feet because “I just can’t talk about 3 feet in May,” he said.

Grand Junction isn’t expected to see snow. The forecast calls for a 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms today and a 70 percent chance tonight and Sunday. Today’s high should top out around 68 degrees, then drop to 49 for a high on Sunday.

The valley could use the moisture. Grand Junction has received 2.29 inches of precipitation so far this year, nearly an inch below the 3.2 inches that normally has fallen by this time.


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