By Chris Spears

DENVER (CBS4) – After weeks with little to no snow in the mountains of Colorado a strong storm moving in from the Pacific Northwest promises to bring an extended period of high wind and heavy snow starting late Wednesday night and lasting through most of Friday. Some places will experience a prolonged period of wind speeds in excess of 25 mph with gusts between 45 and 60 mph.

The bulk of the snow will fall on Thursday but it will linger into the morning hours on Friday. Before the storm moves out Friday afternoon many mountain areas will see snow totals in excess of 10 inches with some places potentially receiving up to two feet or more.

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center has issued an Avalanche Watch for Thursday night and Friday for most of the mountain ranges west of the Continental Divide. Specifically the watch includes the Steamboat/Flat Tops, Aspen, Gunnison, North San Juan and South San Juan forecast zones.

Forecasters say as the storm progresses, a natural avalanche cycle will likely develop and it will create very dangerous conditions. The highest danger is anticipated to be on northerly-facing slopes. Backcountry travel in avalanche terrain is not recommended by late Thursday and through Friday.

Chris Spears