Windswept snow shuts down parts of I-25, I-70 in Colorado

By Renee Duff, AccuWeather meteorologist
March 24, 2017, 10:52:07 AM EDT

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After a dramatic drop in temperatures, windswept snow has shut down portions of interstates in Colorado on Friday morning.

The snow is arriving less than 24 hours after record warmth, severe thunderstorms and a high fire threat across the Colorado Front Range.

Temperatures can plummet up to 45 degrees Fahrenheit from the highest point on Thursday to the lowest point on Friday morning. Denver dropped from a record-breaking 77 F on Thursday afternoon to 33 F early on Friday morning, a difference of 44 degrees.

“The warm and dry weather that has been prevalent throughout March will come to a drastic end,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Ryan Adamson said.

Precipitation began as rain at the onset of the storm across the Front Range, including Denver, before a changeover to all snow occurred early Friday morning.

During the transition, thundersnow was reported in the city just after midnight, local time.

Colorado snow March 24

“Snow accumulations will be 1 to 3 inches in the city, but this will be a big change for residents who have enjoyed a warm and snowless month, as only a trace has fallen from March 1 to March 22,” Adamson said.

Denver averages 7.5 inches of snow during the first 22 days of March.

The highest peaks across the Colorado Rockies will be cold enough to start out and stay all snow.

“In the high mountains and foothills, including the Palmer Divide, amounts will be at least 6 to 12 inches,” Adamson said.

The snow has come down heavily enough to overcome the warm ground in several communities.

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Roadways will turn slushy and snow-covered as the snow falls at a faster rate and the ground begins to cool.

While roads are being reported as wet in Metro Denver, a stretch of Interstate 70 remains closed, according to Colorado Department of Transportation due to windblown snow and slick conditions. Interstate 25 was shut down earlier on Friday but has sinced reopened.

Where snow is covering open roads, motorists will need to slow down in order to lower the risk of spinouts and multi-vehicle accidents.

Winds gusting between 40 and 60 mph will severely whip the snow around, creating whiteout blizzard conditions.

“On Friday afternoon, precipitation will end and temperatures will top out in the upper 40s to around 50 in Denver, melting much of the snow that falls,” Adamson said.

Outside of the snow, locally damaging winds past 40 mph will whip during and after the storm across southeastern Colorado and into the southern Plains.

The winds will cause areas of blowing dust, and perhaps tree and power line damage. A high fire danger also exists from New Mexico to Oklahoma.

Winds will calm and drier weather will move in for the first half of the weekend. Wintry weather will return to the Colorado Rockies, but spare Denver, late Saturday into Sunday.

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