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National Weather Service offers hope for snow in Cortez

Up to 8 inches forecast for mountains, less than an inch for Montezuma County
Snow on the San Juan Mountains, as seen from downtown Telluride in September.

There is a chance this weekend could break Cortez’s long dry spell, according to the National Weather Service.

The weather service issued a winter weather advisory alert Friday afternoon, predicting 4 to 8 inches of snow in the San Juan Mountains starting 6 p.m. Saturday. The weather service forecast calls for a 70 percent chance of snow but less than an inch of precipitation in Montezuma County.

The past month has broken multiple heat records for this time of year, said Cortez meteorologist Jim Andrus said, and precipitation in the region is at just 2 percent of normal.

According to the weather service, road conditions in the mountains could be slippery with poor visibility through noon on Sunday. The service predicted gusts of wind reaching 20 mph and accumulations of up to 12 inches in some areas.

But Cortez residents may have to wait longer for the dry spell to end. Although the weather station in Grand Junction is predicting clouds and a slight chance of showers for Saturday, high temperatures over the weekend will remain in the upper 40s, and the forecast for Sunday is sunny.

Andrus said he has measured only 0.7 inches of snow in Cortez all winter so far. Normally the region gets between 4 and 8 inches throughout the season.

“These have been the driest three winter months I can remember,” Andrus said.

In December, temperatures in Cortez broke four heat records, including one that hadn’t been broken in 71 years. The high temperature on Dec. 3 was 64 degrees, Andrus said, beating the old record of 61 degrees, which was set in 1946. The last three days of December also set records with temperatures in the 50s and 60s. The average temperature for mid-December through mid-January is 42 degrees.

Andrus wouldn’t speculate on when winter weather might hit Cortez.

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