A three-pronged weather system will bring colder temperatures and a chance of snow to Southwest Colorado and the San Juan Mountains next week.
Strong winds through the weekend will be a precursor to precipitation early next week, said forecaster Erin Walter of the National Weather Service in Grand Junction.
A winter storm watch is in effect Monday evening through Wednesday morning in the mountains of the Western Slop, including the northern and southern San Juans. Six to 14 inches of snow was expected above 9,000 feet elevation, with mountain winds gusting as high as 65 mph.
Winds could gust as high as 35 mph Monday and Tuesday in Cortez.
Current high pressure will facilitate warm temperatures through Saturday.
“Temperatures really start to dive Sunday,” Walter said.
The third part of the system will bring moisture, and there’s a chance for it to fall as snow in Cortez starting early Monday through Wednesday morning.
The greatest chance for snow to fall – and stick to the ground – will be Tuesday overnight, Walter said.
The chance for snow boils down to the system’s ability to “fight” the warmer temperatures and higher sun angles of spring, although it is bringing colder temperatures with it.
The low temperatures Tuesday and Wednesday will hover around 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
While Cortez can expect the system to drop less than an inch of snow, the chance for more snowfall is “ramped up higher into the San Juans,” Walter said.
Friday evening’s forecast shows the chance for precipitation increases from 20% to 50% from Monday morning to Monday evening, with precipitation likely Tuesday. There’s a slight chance for snow showers before noon Wednesday.
Snowpack is at 92% of average, according to the latest SNOTEL data measuring precipitation in the Dolores River Basin.