Winter storm system poised to pounce on GJ

A cold front blowing into western Colorado around the same time as an arctic air mass will make for a chilly — and wet — few days in Grand Junction.

Rain is expected to begin falling today and turning into snow by tonight or early Wednesday morning, according to Julie Malingowski, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction. Malingowski said it was unclear Monday how much precipitation the storm may dump on the Grand Valley. The storm is expected to clear out by Thursday morning, but more storm systems could dump snow Saturday and early next week, she said.

“We could get 5 to 10 inches of snow or a couple inches” before Thursday, she said, depending on whether the cold front passes directly over the area. “The commute on Wednesday is definitely going to be the problem time.”

Darren Starr, manager of streets, storm-water and solid waste for Grand Junction, said his department spent Monday afternoon getting ready for the storm, swapping out leaf-collecting parts on trucks for snow-removal accessories. Two tanks of ice-thinning magnesium chloride have been prepared and bridges and viaducts, which can be 10 degrees cooler than other roadways, may get a pre-storm coating.

“On (Nov. 27) when we left, it was supposed to be 60 degrees on Tuesday. How things change,” Starr said.

The National Weather Service predicts temperatures will rise into the 40s this morning before sinking throughout the day into the 20s. Malingowski said highs below freezing and lows down to the single digits are projected to stick around through at least Monday. An inversion, which traps cold air below warmer air, particularly in a valley, is especially likely to form after the storm and keep temperatures low through the weekend if snow remains on the ground.

The first fire ban of the 2013-14 winter season began Wednesday and lasted through Monday afternoon due to an elevated inversion. Mesa County Health Department Air Quality Specialist Ed Brotsky said a ban is likely to return this week if another inversion forms because inversions can trap pollutants from vehicles and wood-burning stoves and fireplaces near the valley floor.


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