March 12, 2024

Major, disruptive snowstorm aims for Denver and Colorado Springs

Tuesday's highs in the 60s will feel like a distant memory before long as a major snowstorm brews along and east of the Colorado Rockies.

Widespread snowfall totals of one to two feet are on the way from Fort Collins down through Colorado Springs. Roads will be impassable as the heavy, wet snow begins piling up late Wednesday and through the day Thursday.

In addition to travel issues, tree damage and power outages are possible as the wet snow weighs down branches and power lines.

Modeled surface dew points and surface winds for around 12 a.m. Thursday (MDT). [Tropical Tidbits]

This is a dicey setup that's had meteorologists on the edge of their seats for the past couple of days. An upper-level low swinging over the Rockies will give rise to a storm over the central Plains. This storm will produce several days of severe weather through the center of the country.

Our budding storm will also help scoop up moisture and hurl it toward eastern Colorado. You can see the moisture pushing into eastern Colorado on the model image above, which shows surface dew points around midnight on Thursday.

Moist and persistent northeasterly winds blowing into Colorado will rise up and over the terrain—a formidable bout of upsloping that'll feed this bout of widespread heavy snowfall.

Snow will develop along the Front Range and the foothills through the second half of Wednesday, with rain changing to snow for communities along I-25 into Wednesday night.

The latest forecast from the National Weather Service calls for 12-18 inches of snow for the Denver and Boulder metros, with 8-12 inches of snow in the forecast down in Colorado Springs. Communities higher in the foothills could easily see two or more feet of snow by the end of the day Thursday, with more than three feet of snow possible for the highest elevations.

That's...a solid thump of snow! Denver averages about 7.8" of snow during the month of March. The city's snowiest March on record occurred back in 2021, when 34.0" of snow fell on the city—more than two feet of which fell in one historic thump. If Denver hits 18" on the high end of its predicted range, it'd be a top-ten March snowfall since records began back in 1875.

It's going to be a wet snow to boot. The Weather Prediction Center's Winter Storm Severity Index calls for "major" to "extreme" impacts across the region, which is a solid indication forecasters expect major disruptions as a result of this storm.

Shovelling a foot or more of slushy snow will increase the risk for heart attacks and muscle injuries. Please don't overdo it. The weight of the snow will also increase the potential for tree damage and power outages, which could be significant across the Front Range and the foothills.

Conditions across the region should improve after the snow clears out late Thursday. Temperatures will remain on the chillier side of normal heading into the weekend, with warmer air arriving by next week. Daytime highs may return to the 60s by next Tuesday.

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I graduated from the University of South Alabama in 2014 with a degree in political science and a minor in meteorology. I contribute to The Weather Network as a digital writer, and I've written for Forbes, the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang, Popular Science, Mental Floss, and Gawker's The Vane. My latest book, The Skies Above, is now available. My first book, The Extreme Weather Survival Manual, arrived in October 2015.