A swath of snow will blanket parts of the Rockies and High Plains this weekend, possibly as far south as New Mexico and the panhandles of Oklahoma and Texas, over a month ahead of the average first snowfall in those locations.
Snow is currently falling over parts of the central Rockies and the central High Plains and will continue to spread southward through the night.
Over 6 inches of snow blanketed Grand Forks, North Dakota, Wednesday, one of its heaviest snowstorms so early in the season. A whopping 17.4 inches of snow was measured at Grand Forks Air Force Base west of the city.
This weekend, the jet stream will take yet another southern nosedive, driving a reinforcing blast of cold air through the Rockies and High Plains, with daily record lows – and record-cold high temperatures – expected.
Disturbances embedded in that plunging jet stream will help wring out snow in the Rockies and High Plains, possibly including some surprising places this early in the season.
The National Weather Service has posted winter storm warnings, watches and winter weather advisories in parts of Wyoming, Colorado, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico.
Here’s a look at the timing and locations where accumulating snow is expected.
– Sunday: Snow will continue in parts of Colorado, western and northern Kansas and Nebraska. Snow will develop in northern New Mexico and parts of the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles, continuing into Sunday night.
– Monday: Most snow should end by morning, but slippery roads might persist at least early in the day.
Most of these areas should see light to moderate snowfall totals. At least a few inches of accumulation is likely in the Interstate 25 Front Range urban corridor from Cheyenne, Wyoming, southward into northern New Mexico, including the Denver metro area.
This could make for interesting conditions for Sunday’s National Football League game between the host Denver Broncos and the Los Angeles Rams.
Some locally heavy totals are possible in parts of the High Plains of southern Colorado, far southwestern Kansas and northern New Mexico, as well as in the foothills immediately west of the I-25 Front Range mentioned above.
As with most early-season events, initial snowfall might melt on pavement, but as colder air moves in and snowfall persists, slushy, snowy roads will likely develop, particularly at night.
Strong winds behind the plunging cold front could combine with snow to reduce visibility, particularly in open country. In areas of more significant accumulation, the stress from wet snow and winds might lead to some downed trees and power outages. Trees are more easily downed in early-season snowfall events due to the weight of leaves still being on trees.
At least minor snow accumulations are possible as far south as the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles. Amarillo’s first accumulating snow typically happens by Nov. 24 but has happened as early as Sept. 29, 1984.
This would also be early for the season’s first measurable snow in Dodge City, Kansas, where it typically happens around Nov. 19. This southwestern Kansas town has a chance to pick up at least one inch of snow, which typically doesn’t happen until Dec. 5.
Those with travel plans in the Rockies and High Plains this weekend should check back frequently for the latest on this forecast.