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Winter storm with heavy snow set to impact the weekend, watch issued

Friday, February 20th, 2015 6:11am MDT

Winter storm with heavy snow set to impact the weekend, watch issued.  Mother Nature has spent much of the month teasing us with spring-like temperatures.  That however changes big time starting this evening as a potent system is set to deliver a return to cold and possibly our biggest snow of the season so far.

Friday starts out nice enough and temperatures will actually top out a bit warmer than average.  However the first of a series of disturbances will be arriving this afternoon signifying the start of a turn toward colder and snowy conditions.

We may see a few, light rain showers early in the afternoon with better chances after about 5:00pm.  By that time temperatures will be cooling quickly and soon after the transition from rain to snow will begin.  Overnight tonight we aren’t expecting much accumulation – somewhere between 1 and 2 inches.

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Light snow can be expected Saturday morning but the real action begins in the afternoon.  A reinforcing shot of cold air coupled with good upslope flow will help to enhance snow coverage and amounts through Saturday night.  A few inches of additional accumulation Saturday afternoon will be followed by 3 to five inches overnight Saturday.

By Sunday things start to wind down with snow amounts and coverage easing.  Depending on how quick it moves out, we could still see a couple more inches during the day.

The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Watch that goes into effect at 8:00pm tonight and runs through Sunday afternoon.  The service is putting potential snowfall amounts for the entire event at 8 to 16 inches with heavier amounts in the foothills and Palmer Divide.  Their guidance suggests Thornton may fall within the mid to upper part of that range.

As we are more than 24 hours away from the event beginning in earnest, ThorntonWeather.com remains a bit cautious with potential snowfall amounts.  This weekend’s weather lacks one key ingredient we almost always see with heavy snowfall – a strong low pressure system passing to our south.  Without that, upslope may be limited and thus snowfall limited.  At the time of this writing we are going with a range of 6 to 12 inches for Thornton for the entire event.

However, the potential is there for us to receive our biggest snowfall of the season, possibly our biggest in the past few seasons.  Residents should be prepared and understand that travel may be severely impacted, particularly from Saturday afternoon through Sunday morning.  If you have errands to run, get them done today and early tomorrow.

Please use caution and stay informed about the coming storm.  Our Winter Weather Briefing Page has everything you should need: http://www.thorntonweather.com/winter-briefing.php

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