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Thornton, Colorado, USA
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Under the gun: Winter Storm Warning issued as heavy snow becomes more likely

Thursday, January 30th, 2014 6:31am MST

Update, 8:10 p.m. – The storm has arrived and is settling in.  As of this writing Thornton has received more than 1 inch of heavy wet snowfall.

Look for the snow to continue at relatively quick rates through 4:00 a.m. Friday when it will then begin to taper off.  Total overnight accumulations in our area look to be in the 4 to 8 inch range.

Naturally many are wondering about school and business closings for Friday.  You can check for those here.

Monitor our Winter Weather Briefing Page for all the latest with the storm.  Also be sure to ‘like’ us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and add us to your Google+ circles.

Update, 1:00 p.m.: In our forecast this morning we mentioned that actual snowfall amounts were greatly dependent on a number of factors and still far from certain. The latest Hazardous Weather Outlook from the National Weather Service sums the situation up nicely:

“The Front Range foothills and adjacent plains will see scattered rain or rain and snow showers develop late this afternoon. This evening…snow will become widespread and continue for the night. At this time…it appears a band of moderate to heavy snowfall may form from the foothills of Boulder county…east across northern portions of the Denver metro area and across southern Washington and northern Lincoln counties. This will all depend on where the jet stream sets up. Just a 20 mile north-south shift in the jet stream would mean the difference between a 2-5 inch snowfall or a 8-12 inch snowfall overnight. Under this band…could see snowfall rates approaching 1 1/2 inch per hour this evening…with lesser snow rates elsewhere. Should see a gradual reduction in snowfall intensity on the plains towards morning as upslope flow weakens.”

Original post, 6:31 a.m.: Don’t let today’s mild start fool you.  Despite unseasonably warm high temperatures during the day today, winter weather will be coming back with a vengeance before it is over.

The Colorado high country is already feeling the impact of a powerful storm system carrying copious amounts of moisture.  Many locations in the mountains will be measuring their snow in feet before all is said and done up there.

Here at lower elevations we are actually going to see temperatures top out today a good bit above normal.  Highs will be in the upper 40s under mostly cloudy skies.  This afternoon may even bring a sprinkle of rain.

By late afternoon the first in a series of cold front is expected to push onto the Front Range.  As it does, temperatures will drop and snow is expected to begin flying and last through the night.

The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Warning that goes into effect at 5:00 p.m. this afternoon and runs through 6:00 p.m.  Believe it or not, this is the first such warning we have had all season long as this storm may be bringing our biggest snowfall thus far.

The warning calls for snowfall totals for the Denver area and Colorado Front Range of 5 to 10 inches with higher amounts north, lower to the south.  Areas approaching 1 foot of accumulation are possible under the heavier snow bands.

Here in Thornton we are thinking a 5 to 8 inch range is reasonable however it isn’t outside the realm of possibility that we see more.  During the day tomorrow light additional accumulations will be possible as well.

Given the forecast, it is likely that tomorrow morning’s commute will be a rough one.  Certainly kids are going to be waking up tomorrow anxious to hear whether or not they have a snow day.  There is a chance for the first one of the year.

Having said all of that, we do throw out a caveat on those forecast snowfall amounts.

For this all to come to fruition, conditions must materialize as expected and the dynamic nature of the coming storm and cold fronts keeps it from being a certain thing.  Should upslope winds not materialize as expected and / or temperatures not drop as expected, snowfall could be curtailed.

At this time NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center is giving the Denver area greater than an 80% chance of seeing snowfall amounts ? 4 inches between now and Saturday morning.  They give a 60% chance of receiving ? 8 inches and a 20% chance of ? 12 inches.

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