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A potent winter storm was expected to plow into western Colorado this morning, towing with it what was to be a hefty amount of snow for the high country and much-needed moisture for Grand Junction, which is nearing the end of one of the driest years on record.

The National Weather Service has posted winter storm warnings and winter weather advisories covering nearly all of the southwestern quadrant of the state through Saturday morning. The system is expected to cross into the Four Corners region, then move northeast.

“It looks like in the bigger picture we’re have the strongest part (of the storm) coming through starting later (Thursday night) into Friday night,” meteorologist Jim Daniels said.

The strongest part of the storm should hit the San Juan Mountains and the southern part of the Uncompahgre Plateau. Forecasters are calling for 10 to 20 inches of snow in the San Juans, 6 to 12 inches on Grand Mesa and 5-9 inches in the southern foothills of the San Juans.

The Grand Valley should see a mix of rain and snow today, with precipitation changing over to snow Friday night. Daniels said Grand Junction could receive a light accumulation of 1 to 2 inches.

Daniels said a second, weaker disturbance should move in behind the first storm tonight into Saturday, and that could tack a few more inches of snow onto the storm’s tally.

The timing of the storm couldn’t be better for Powderhorn Mountain Resort, which opens Saturday. The resort was scheduled to welcome skiers and snowboarders Thursday, but resort operators pushed back the opening two days because of a lack of snow.

Year-to-date, Grand Junction has received 3.52 inches of precipitation. This weekend’s precipitation is required to keep the city from breaking the record for the driest year, set in 1900 when 3.56 inches fell. Average annual precipitation is 9.38 inches.


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