It’s beginning to look a lot more like winter in Southwest Colorado. After a storm dropped upwards of 6 inches of snow this past weekend, National Weather Service forecasters are predicting another storm Sunday into Tuesday.
“We think this’ll be a good one,” said NWS forecaster Dennis Phillips.
On Saturday, a winter storm brought much-needed snowfall to the high country in Southwest Colorado. Purgatory Resort reported 6 new inches of snow within the past 24 hours. Two SNOTEL gauging stations at Cascade Creek, near Purgatory, reported 3 to 6 inches of new snow.
At Coal Bank and Molas passes, SNOWTEL stations also recorded 4 to 8 inches of snow above 9,000 feet. Silverton reported 4 inches of new snow, Telluride 8 inches and Ouray 10½ inches.
Wolf Creek Ski area reported 4 inches of new snow.
As of noon Sunday, chain laws for commercial vehicles were still in effect for Red Mountain Pass and Lizard Head Pass.
In those same areas, all passenger vehicles are required to have snow or mud/snow tires, use chains or alternative traction devices, or have four-wheel/all-wheel drive.
Avalanche danger was listed as “moderate” in the southern San Juan Mountains and “considerable” in the northern San Juans, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.
Sunday should remain sunny and dry in Southwest Colorado.
According to the NWS, a strong winter storm will approach from the southwest, with snow likely starting to fall around 3 a.m. Monday over the San Juan and Abajo (in Utah) mountains in elevations above 9,000 feet.
In the lower elevations, precipitation is expected to remain as rain. Roads may become icy and snow-packed, especially in higher elevations, before sunrise Monday, the NWS said.
The best chance for snow is Monday afternoon into the evening, Phillips said. While it may be too early to call it, forecasters are expecting up to 8 inches of snow above 9,000 feet during that time.
“Hazardous driving conditions will be possible over all the high-mountain passes and thunderstorms are also possible Monday afternoon,” an NWS report said.
In the lower valleys, including Montezuma County, precipitation should fall as rain. The storm will continue into the early morning hours Tuesday, Phillips said, and drivers should expect messy commutes Tuesday morning.
High temperatures in Montezuma County are expected to be in the low 40s, and lows around 30.
While the storm is expected to move out of the region by Tuesday afternoon, the NWS said another storm is possible Wednesday night through Thursday night.
“We have fairly good chances of active weather through the weekend,” Phillips said. “Which is good news.”
Colorado snowpack maps had not been updated since storms brought snow to the high country this weekend. At last reading on Friday, Southwest Colorado was 36 percent of normal snowpack for the year.