High resolution NAM model simulated radar late Friday night in Colorado and western Kansas. (PivotalWeather.com)
Weather is often a tale of contrasts. While record-challenging heat develops in the eastern U.S., expect temperatures to plunge and snowflakes to fly in the Rocky Mountains.
The National Weather Service has posted a winter storm warning for Denver, and it is predicting 6 to 12 inches of snow late Friday into Saturday. But it conceded its confidence in the accumulation forecast is “moderate at best.”
It predicts the heaviest snowfall amounts on Denver’s south side.
Snow forecast in Colorado. (National Weather Service)
Other outlets published more conservative snowfall forecasts.
AccuWeather is forecasting just 1 to 3 inches for Denver. And the website Weather5280.com seemed skeptical that the amounts would be as high as forecast by the Weather Service. “We’re going with a general 2-6 inches for Denver,” it said. “[T]he Bust Index is high. It’s late April, and there are lot of moving parts here.”
If snowfall somehow exceeds six inches in Denver, this storm would rank among the biggest snow producers so deep into spring. Only a dozen storms in recorded history have produced more than six inches April 28 or later in the Mile High City:
Here is Top 15 one-day snow for Denver Apr 28 or later; if all accumulation is tomorrow, high end of NWS 4-6" fcst range approaches Top 10 pic.twitter.com/QDvmDiqbjx
— MDA Weather Services (@MDA_Weather) April 28, 2017
With the snow coming so late in the season and trees starting to leaf, the Weather Service said its weight could cause tree limbs to snap and scattered power outages.
Precipitation is forecast to move into Denver on Friday evening, possibly starting as rain or a rain-snow mix. But as colder air arrives, precipitation is expected to turn to all snow. For a time this evening and overnight, the snow could fall heavily.
The snow is predicted to end Saturday morning. “We don’t think there will be much snow in Denver after about noon Saturday,” the Weather Service said.
The highest snow totals are expected in the high-elevation peaks west and southwest of Denver, where 1 to 2 feet could fall.
The website SnowBrains says four Colorado ski resorts, still open, will be able to cash in on the fresh powder this weekend: Arapahoe Basin, Loveland Ski Area, Winter Park and Purgatory.
The snowstorm is the result of a deep area of low pressure and cold air at high altitudes ejecting from the Southwest into the Plains.
GFS model simulation of deep area of low pressure at high altitudes ejecting from the Southwest into the Plains Saturday. (WeatherBell.com)
It will eventually draw a tremendous amount of moisture out of the Gulf of Mexico and may produce a deluge from Oklahoma to Ohio over the weekend.