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Moderating Temperatures for the East; Developing Storm for the Plains

Temperatures will continue to moderate across the east half of the nation through at least the first half of this week. A developing storm across the Southern Plains may bring some heavy rain from the Plains to the lower Great Lakes region, a wintry mixture and accumulating snow across the Midwest and Upper Mississippi Valley into mid-week. The west remains unsettled with occasional rain and snow. Read More >


A long-duration snowfall event began across northwest Colorado near the Wyoming border as early as the morning of Monday, January 2nd, as moisture off the Pacific began to work its way across the area. This coincided with an arctic front that remained stationary across the north near the Wyoming border, producing significant snowfall under heavy snow bands for the northern Park range and northwest Colorado valleys, where Craig picked up over a foot of snow through the afternoon of Tuesday, January 3rd.  

A break in the action occurred late Tuesday afternoon as the arctic front retreated northward as milder air and deeper moisture surged ahead of the strong trough that brought significant snowfall to the region from late in the day on Wednesday, January 4th through the early morning hours on Friday, January 6th.

The snow fell as a result of a plume of moisture surging inland along the Pacific Coast, and continuing east into the central Rocky Mountains. This moisture fetch off the Pacific is also known as an Atmospheric River, or "Pineapple Express" event. An arctic cold front moved south from Wyoming and into northern Colorado during the day on January 5th, enhancing snowfall across the region. The key to this event was the progress of the arctic front and resulting heavy banding of snow that resulted in some areas seeing much higher totals than other locations nearby.  The arctic front stalled along the I-70 corridor by the morning of Thursday, January 5th resulting in heavy snow banding for parts of this area.  The arctic front progressed towards the central and southern mountains Thursday afternoon and stalled over the San Juans, keeping the southern valleys near the Four Corners very mild with rain and thunderstorms.  This arctic front eventually dropped south through the Four Corners region Thursday evening, resulting in a changeover to snow and some brief heavy snow banding before quickly dropping south of the border after midnight.  

This storm was notable for producing a plowable snowfall in the Grand Valley and many other lower-elevation locations after temperatures cooled behind the front. Throughout the Colorado high country, snowfall totals ranged from 1 to 2 feet in the San Juan Mountains to 3 feet or more in the central and northern mountains.  Locally higher amounts up to 5 feet were seen in some mountain locations with the Tower snotel in the Park Range the grand winner with an estimated 66 inches!  One of the more impressive valley totals was Gunnison with close to 2 feet of snow.

As the system departed the region to the east, a bitter cold arctic air mass settled in. Low temperatures dipped well below zero, with the coldest reading coming from Maybell at an amazing 42 degrees below zero. Many locations north of Interstate 70 saw temperatures in the -20s and -30s during the morning of January 6th.






Preliminary Storm Total Snowfall from Wednesday, Jan 4th thru Friday, Jan 6th.

Note: These totals do not include the amounts that fell across northwest Colorado with the leading disturbance on Monday, Jan 2nd thru Tuesday, Jan 3rd.

Image Image Image
Snowfall outside the NWS Grand Junction office where 3.1" officially fell
14" of snow on Pitkin Mesa near Paonia
(Bob Storvern)
Grand Junction, CO area: Amounts varied from about 3" at the airport on the northern end of town to around 8" in the Redlands near the Colorado National Monument on the southern end of town
(Rick Hudak)
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