VAIL, COLORADO – Colorado is currently facing a severe winter storm that began on Friday, January 12, 2024, and is expected to continue raging through Monday, January 15. The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued a Winter Storm Warning effective until 5 PM MST Sunday, cautioning residents about heavy snow, high winds, and significant impacts making travel ‘difficult to impossible.’
Here’s what to expect for the rest of the weekend:
Storm Details and Areas Affected
According to the NWS, the storm is bringing snow and blowing snow today, with heavier snowfall anticipated tonight and Sunday. The state is expecting additional snow accumulations of 12 to 24 inches, particularly around Rabbit Ears Pass. Wind gusts could reach up to 70 mph. The warning covers Rabbit Ears Pass, Rocky Mountain National Park and the Medicine Bow Range, as well as the mountains of Summit County, the Mosquito Range, and the Indian Peaks.
Governor Jared Polis has declared a disaster in anticipation of the storm. This declaration, issued on Thursday, January 11, enables the mobilization of the Colorado National Guard and activates the Colorado State Emergency Operations Plan. The cold front accompanying the storm is expected to plunge temperatures below zero in many mountain towns and ski resorts, with wind chills dropping to -10 or -20 F.
Meteorologist Chris Tomer reported brutal conditions across Utah and Colorado this morning with jet blast winds reaching 100mph, low visibility, and sub-zero temperatures. A staggering 114mph wind gust was recorded near Breckenridge, signaling the storm’s severity. Tomer expects the next surge of snow from tonight through January 15 as the main storm system moves in from Oregon and California.
Safety Tips for Residents and Visitors
Given the severe weather conditions, Coloradans and visitors are urged to exercise caution and follow these safety tips:
- Avoid Unnecessary Travel: With the potential for roads to become treacherous or impassable, avoid non-essential travel. If travel is necessary, keep an emergency kit in your vehicle.
- Stay Informed: Regularly check weather updates and heed warnings from local authorities.
- Prepare for Power Outages: Have a supply of flashlights, batteries, and a backup power source ready.
- Protect Pipes from Freezing: Let your faucets drip slightly to prevent pipes from freezing and bursting.
- Check on Neighbors: Ensure that elderly or vulnerable neighbors are safe and have necessary supplies.
- Avalanche Awareness: If in mountainous areas, avoid avalanche-prone terrain and stay informed about the latest avalanche warnings.
This storm is a reminder of nature’s power and the importance of preparation and caution during extreme weather events. Stay safe, Colorado. Read our comprehensive mountain safety guide to learn more.