Drastic Changes: First Snow of Season in Colorado Rockies

By , Meteorologist
September 13, 2012; 1:02 AM ET
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"A mid-afternoon view taken from the summit of Poncha Pass, along US-285," Flickr user dherrera_96 said. The photo shows Mount Aetna and Taylor Mountain of the southern Sawatch Mountain Range in Colorado.

It's that time of the year already for rapidly changing weather conditions and the four letter word, snow, in the Rockies.

A fall storm swinging across the Southwest will trigger the first snowfall of the season in the Colorado Rockies into Wednesday evening. To the northeast, an area of high pressure will supply a chilly north-northeast flow to Colorado.

"This time of year, you get huge flips in the weather," AccuWeather Expert Senior Meteorologist Jim Andrews explained. "There is a cold outbreak occurring behind a norther [cold] front compared to a summer, southwesterly flow, that the region has been experiencing recently."

The eastern Sawatch Mountains and western Mosquito Range of Colorado will be whitened by snow above 11,000 feet with the heaviest snow expected above 12,000 feet. The Sawatch Mountain Range is home to the highest mountain in the Rockies, Mt. Elbert, which is around 14,440 feet in elevation.

Snowfall amounts of 4-8 inches are expected with local accumulations of 10 inches predicted in the highest elevations.

With recent highs in the mountains climbing into the 60s, there are fears that hikers may be caught off-guard. Climbers, hikers and visitors should be prepared for snow and winter conditions. Gusty winds may contribute to some blowing snow and poor visibility.

Independence Pass, a pass that sits just above 12,000 feet in elevation along State Highway 82, is among areas that will receive snow. The pass, which connects Leadville, Colo., to Aspen, Colo., is one of the highest in the U.S. Motorists should have winter kits in their vehicles if traveling through the area.

AccuWeather Lead Long-Range Forecaster Paul Pastelok first warned that the Four Corners was a region to watch for early season snow in the AccuWeather fall forecast released back in early August.

While Denver and other lower elevations of Colorado will not receive any snow, a drastic change in the weather is in store. Highs have climbed to or above the 90-degree mark in Denver the past couple of days. Today, the high will only be in the upper 50s with a chilly rain falling.


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