Winter Storm Watch

Howling winds to whip through Rockies, High Plains into Wednesday night

By Kyle Elliott, AccuWeather meteorologist
December 19, 2018, 8:42:23 PM EST

Prior to one of the busiest travel days of the year, strong to, at times, damaging winds will whip through the Front Range of the Rockies and High Plains into Wednesday night.

In the wake of a storm system tracking eastward across the northern Plains and southern Canada, gusty winds will first howl across Montana before diving down the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains into much of Wyoming, eastern Colorado and New Mexico, the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles and parts of western Kansas and Nebraska.

“Wind gusts will be strongest in the highest elevations, where winds could reach speeds of 55 to 75 mph,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Ryan Adamson said.

He added that wind gusts of 40 to 55 mph will be more likely on a regional basis and in the lower elevations, but that a strong jet stream developing near Denver could lead to a second area of higher gusts in and around the city.

Static Winds

Dangerous crosswinds will create difficult roadway conditions for holiday travelers on portions of interstates 25, 70, 80 and 94 that lie within the threat zone.

Motorists should be sure to reduce speed, maintain a tight grip on the steering wheel with both hands and pull into a rest area or along the side of the road if winds become too strong to handle.

“Power outages, tree damage and, in some areas, even blowing dust will be possible,” Adamson warned.

“People with outdoor holiday decorations, such as inflatables or smaller furniture and planters, will want to make sure they are properly secured or brought inside ahead of the strongest winds,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Renee Duff said.

Anybody with outdoor plans should be aware that winds of this strength could free any loose objects and holiday decorations, quickly turning them into dangerous projectiles.

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Fortunately, the strong winds will not be accompanied by harsh, winterlike cold. Instead, high temperatures at midweek should generally be 15 to 25 degrees Fahrenheit above what is considered normal for December.

Although the winds will drop AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperatures about 10 to 20 degrees below the actual air temperature, the outdoor air should still not feel abnormally cold.

“As an area of high pressure builds into the region on Thursday, winds should gradually subside,” said Adamson.

However, another burst of damaging winds may impact a large portion of the midweek threat area on Friday and Friday night.

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