From hot summer days to a wave of wildfire smoke and a cold blast from Canada, the past week has brought topsy-turvy weather to Southwest Colorado and thoughts of ski season.
The state was enjoying a sunny Labor Day weekend before the cold front swept in, pushing wildfire smoke ahead of it and bringing chilly weather and snow. The early snowstorm caught the attention of national news and prompted a winter storm warning in Western Colorado. While snowfall has varied, the chilly weather brings fall and ski season to mind for some Southwest Coloradans.
“I’ve been here almost 20 years now, so it’s not a big surprise to me,” said Manuel Skow, owner of Kendall Mountain Cafe in Silverton. “I think fall’s started now.”
The National Weather Service storm warning, issued Monday, forecast heavy snow at elevations above 9,000 feet. Some areas were expected to get 8 to 12 inches of snow and winds up to 30 mph. The warning lifts at noon Thursday.
“Travel could be difficult. If you must travel, keep an extra flashlight, food and water in your vehicle in case of an emergency,” the warning said.
The Weather Service expects 1 inch of snowfall in Silverton, but the area could see as many as 8 inches. That’s the highest predicted precipitation out of 20 cities in Western Colorado.
“It snowed this morning, but it’s all melted now. It’s still nasty and cool,” Skow said.
“It snowed a little bit, but not enough to stick,” said Lois Jenkins, owner of Shady Lady in Silverton, who has lived in the area for 30 years. “It’s different. A little too soon.”
At lower elevations, cities such as Pagosa Springs, Durango and Cortez have a slight chance of snow or could see a dusting, according to the Weather Service.
This comes after Labor Day weekend when Durango and Silverton both saw high temperatures well above the 30-year average for the same dates, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
In other areas of Colorado, the scene is different. The Cameron Peak Fire area in Larimer County received up to 14 inches of snow, dampening the wildfire’s growth, according to The Denver Post. The Larimer County fire, still smoldering under the snow, remained at more than 100,000 acres and was 4% contained Wednesday.
Chaffee County had some power outages after trees and branches fell on electricity lines, according to a Twitter post by Sangre de Cristo Electric Association.
Purgatory Resort and the surrounding mountains saw the first notable dusting of snow, said a news release from the resort.
“Snow in the high country was a welcome sight, with a scheduled opening date of Nov. 21 coming up on the horizon,” the release said.
In Silverton, Skow said the chilly weather didn’t stop customers from visiting the cafe.
“It’s way busier than I expected. It’s been really solid the whole day. We have half the tables, so busy isn’t busy-busy,” Skow said.