The National Weather Service on Tuesday announced a winter weather advisory that calls for a late-season snowstorm at elevations above 9,000 feet. The advisory is in effect until 6 p.m. Friday and includes Telluride, Ouray, Silverton, Rico and Hesperus.
For the Cortez area on Thursday, the weather service predicted a 30 percent chance for showers.
In Lakewood, the first day of the Colorado state track meet was postponed Thursday because of snowfall at Jeffco Stadium. The track and field meet will now run Saturday and Sunday.
“This snow came earlier than any forecast we’d seen,” CHSAA assistant commissioner Jenn Roberts-Uhlig, who administers track, said in a news release.
Traction laws were in effect overnight for passenger vehicles traveling Coal Bank and Molas passes, but the requirement was lifted Thursday morning. The chain laws remained in place for Red Mountain Pass on U.S. Highway 550 and Wolf Creek Pass on U.S. Highway 160.
Periods of moderate to heavy snow are expected through Friday, with 6 to 12 inches of accumulated snow at elevations at 9,000 feet elevation and greater amounts at 12,000 feet. The heavy snow may cause power outages as it bears its load on power lines.
The spring storm follows a dry period in Southwest Colorado that last week triggered red flag warnings because of critical fire conditions brought by dry conditions and gusty winds.
According to Matthew Aleksa, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Grand Junction, attributed the storm to a low pressure system from the Pacific Northwest.
In the lower valleys, that moisture will remain as rain, Aleksa said. During the day, temperatures around Cortez this week are forecast to remain in the low 50s.
Overnight lows on Thursday, however, are expected to drop to freezing, which could cause snow levels to drop to around 5,000 feet, the weather service said.
Aleksa said it would be a good idea to cover or move cold-sensitive plants indoors during that time.
By Friday, the storm system is expected to have moved to the east, though some isolated rain showers could linger. By the weekend, temperatures are predicted to rise again into the 60s and 70s.
The Journal and Durango Herald contributed to this article.