Major storm pummels West Slope

Hope you’re already where you want to be for Thanksgiving, because a nasty winter storm that blew into western Colorado overnight may otherwise throw a wrench in your travel plans.

Blizzard and high-wind warnings are plastered across the Western Slope in conjunction with a storm that will bring up to a foot of snow in some areas of higher elevation, wind gusts of up to 75 mph and frigid temperatures. That combination will make travel treacherous, weather experts say.

“This is going to be a significant winter storm, especially for anyone traveling north, east and even if you’re attempting to go over the southern mountains,” said Paul Frisbie, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction.

The high-wind warning, which is in effect until noon today, covers the Interstate 70 corridor from the Utah line to the Grand Valley, the U.S. Highway 50 corridor from Grand Junction to Montrose and rural areas of southwestern Colorado.

The blizzard warning, in effect until noon or midnight Wednesday, depending upon the particular location in the state, covers the northwest quarter of the state as well as Grand and Battlement mesas, the Roan, Tavaputs and Uncompahgre plateaus and the Gore, Elk, Elkhead, Gore, Park, San Juan, Sawatch and West Elk mountains. Forecasts call for 6 to 12 inches of snow to fall by today and up to 75 mph winds on exposed mountain passes.

On the Weather Service website, forecasters offered a foreboding taste of the conditions that could accompany the storm.

“This is a major winter storm with potentially life threatening weather conditions if snowbound and caught outside,” the website said. “Travel will be very dangerous or impossible.”

Frisbie said snowplows could have trouble keeping the roads clear.

“With the wind, it picks up the snow that’s already on the ground, so the mountain passes receive significant drifting,” he said. “In those conditions, it’s a challenge for the road crews to keep the roads clear.”

The snow isn’t expected to pile up here in Grand Junction, although the city could see 1 to 2 inches, according to the Weather Service. The bigger issue will be the plummeting temperatures following the storm front. Highs in the Grand Valley will only reach the 20s today and Thursday, with lows dropping into the single digits.


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