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Wednesday snowstorm in Denver: What we know and don’t know right now

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DENVER — A snowstorm is heading for Colorado with the potential for significant accumulation and high winds. A Pinpoint Weather Alert Day has been issued for Wednesday and Thursday.

RELATED: Full Pinpoint Weather forecast

There are still variables in the forecast, so we’re sorting out what we know and don’t know as of Monday night.

Here’s what we are sure of at this point in the forecast:

  • We know that this storm will bring a big cool down to eastern Colorado. Temperatures will be in the upper 50s or low 60s on Tuesday and will drop to the 30s and 20s on Wednesday afternoon and evening.
  • We also know that this storm will bring snow accumulation to the mountains, Front Range, metro Denver, and Eastern Plains. As of right now it looks like totals will be around 4-8” in metro Denver and for the northern Front Range but will be around 6-12” for the Palmer Divide and Eastern Plains (locally higher amounts above a foot are possible). Snow is expected to be wet and heavy.
  • Winds will be strong. Possibly even strong enough to cause wind damage. Gusts could get up to 80 mph on some of the Eastern Plains. With falling snow, these strong winds will create very low visibility and whiteout conditions.
  • A Blizzard Warning is in effect for the Palmer Divide and the Eastern Plains from noon Wednesday to 6 a.m. Thursday. That is where the biggest travel impacts are expected.

Here’s what we are unsure of and still working out:

  • Looking at different model outputs, there are still slight differences on where the bullseye for the high snow totals will be.
  • This storm system is all the way out in California as of Monday, so a lot can still change with its path to Colorado. If it shifts 25 miles further east or west it can mean a big difference in totals for the Front Range or Eastern Plains.
  • This is a warm storm system that will likely start as rain in metro Denver but will change over to snow once the temperatures become cold enough. If temperatures are slower to cool than what we are predicting right now, it could mean more rain with lower snowfall totals for the Front Range. We will also see a period of melting snow before temperatures get cold enough to accumulate snowfall.
  • It will be difficult to measure snowfall totals with this storm because of snow drifts from strong winds.

Different computer forecast models:

The Pinpoint Weather team looks at several different computer-generated forecast models to help build our forecast. We’re sharing them all so you can see how different the potential outcomes look this far out.

Forecast model 1 (EURO):

Forecast model 2 (NAM):

Forecast model 3 (GFS):

Forecast model 4 (RPM):

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