DENVER (CBS4) – More warm weather will dominate Colorado on Wednesday and Thursday before an enormous change. Friday is a First Alert Weather Day for rain, snow, and unusually cold temperatures.
Before a powerful cold front arrives Thursday evening, temperatures will reach at least 80 degrees again in Denver on Wednesday followed by upper 80s to near 90 degrees on Thursday. These temperatures are far above normal for May.
There is also another chance for late day thunderstorms on Wednesday mostly in the southeast region of the state and far from the Denver metro area. The chance for a thunderstorm along the Front Range is only 20% and the chance for a severe thunderstorm with damaging wind or hail is even smaller. The severe weather threat is relatively high in places like Lamar and Springfield in far southeast Colorado.
Extra heat on Thursday will combine with westerly winds gusting up to 40 mph to bring critical fire danger back to most of Colorado. There is already a Fire Weather Watch that will eventually become a Red Flag Warning for critical fire danger. If a fire were to start on Thursday, it could spread very quickly and be difficult for firefighters to control.
The storm set to bring winter style weather back to Colorado will arrive Thursday night with snow spreading across the mountains before sunrise on Friday. Denver and most of the Front Range will be mostly dry through the morning drive on Friday but rain showers will be possible around Fort Collins very early in the day. Then the moisture will spread south and east through the day with soaking rain for virtually everyone along the Front Range by Friday afternoon.
Initially the snow level will be around 7,000 feet and will then drop below 5,000 feet Friday night into Saturday morning. Any snow accumulation in the immediate mero area is expected to be minor. At this time, no more than 1-2 inches is expected on grassy surfaces, rooftops, and vehicles. Higher amounts are possible closer to 6,000 feet on the Palmer Divide and on the west side of town near the hogback.
In the high country, the mountains east of Vail Pass will see a substantial amount of snow for late spring. There is a Winter Storm Watch for I-70 between Genesee and Copper Mountain for 4-12 inches of snow. The mountains farther north including the Rocky Mountain National Park region could see up to 18 inches of heavy, wet snow.
Temperatures will also drop more than 40 degrees between Thursday and Friday with highs only in the 40s. Saturday could be even cooler than Friday. Overnight lows will drop to at least 32 degrees Friday night and again Saturday night. A hard freeze (28 degrees or below) is not expected in the metro area but it could be cold enough to damage the most sensitive plants and flowers.
Sunday will be drier and warmer but still cooler than normal for late May. There is also a slight chance for late day thunderstorms on Sunday as temperatures start to warm back up.