Latest Colorado snowstorm forecast shows near-record snowfall for Fort Collins

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Snow totals for one of the most hyped winter storms in decades is becoming clearer a day before impact, with the latest forecast indicating Fort Collins may see a near-record amount.

The National Weather Service’s Thursday morning forecast calls for the city to see 24 to 30 inches of snow starting late Friday night through early Monday. The bulk of the snow is expected Saturday into Sunday. 

The city’s record snowfall is 32.2 inches on March 18, 2003 — the only time Fort Collins has ever seen a storm bring more than a 30 inches of snowfall. In fact, in 130 years of recordkeeping, Fort Collins has had only two storms bring 24 inches. 

Recent computer models have continually showed the Fort Collins area as receiving 18 inches to more than 30 inches.

The weather service’s latest forecast said the foothills from Denver north to the state line, including Estes Park and Red Feather Lakes, could see 2 to 4 feet of snow.

That also includes the vast majority of Cameron Peak Fire burn scar, which is cause for concern because of the potential for major damage from erosion and debris flow along the Poudre River and its tributaries. The storm is expected to include 1 to 3 inches or more of moisture.

The weather service has issued a winter storm watch from noon Friday to 6 a.m. Monday. By Saturday, that likely will change to a winter storm warning as the storm intensifies.

Travel across the Front Range and foothills may become nearly impossible late Saturday through much of Sunday with road conditions beginning to improve Monday, according to NWS.

More:What to know ahead of Colorado snow: Snowplow plan, Fort Collins road conditions and DIA flight status

Fort Collins area snowstorm timeline

Friday: Expect a light rain/snow mix during the day with parts of the northern foothills to see a couple inches of snow. On Friday night, rain and snow are likely, turning to snow after 11 p.m. with accumulation of 1 to 3 inches. High of 40 degrees and low of 28 degrees.

Saturday: Snow, heavy at times throughout the day and night, with wind 6 to 15 mph, gusting to 23 mph, causing patchy blowing snow. High of 34 degrees and low around 27 degrees.

Sunday: Continued snow throughout the day, tapering off by midnight. High of 33 degrees and low around 22.

Monday: A slight chance of snow before 11 a.m. Partly sunny, with a high near 38.

Forecast snow totals

Low pressure at the center of the storm is tracking favorably for a significant storm, but just where it sets up and how long it stays in position will go a long way in determining how much snow areas receive. 

Here are the weather service’s forecast snow totals as of Thursday morning:

Fort Collins: 24-30 inches

Red Feather Lakes: 24-30 inches

Estes Park: 24-30 inches

Boulder: 24-30 inches

Cheyenne: 24-30 inches

Greeley: 18-24 inches

Denver: 18-24 inches

Colorado Springs: 8-12 inches

Breckenridge: 8-12 inches

Sterling: 6-8 inches

Walden: 6-8 inches

Aspen: 6-8 inches

Steamboat Springs: 4-6 inches

Fort Collins’ 10 largest March snowfalls

March 18, 2003: 32.2 inches. This is the largest snowfall in city history

March 29, 1970: 21.4 inches

March 30, 1988: 19.5 inches

March 6, 1990: 17 inches

March 8, 1992: 16.7 inches

March 14, 1956: 16.5 inches

March 6, 1932: 14.5 inches

March 23, 2016: 13.4 inches

March 20, 1952: 13.1 inches

March 26, 1980: 12.7 inches

Source: Colorado Climate Center

Reporter Miles Blumhardt looks for stories that impact your life. Be it news, outdoors, sports — you name it, he wants to report it. Have a story idea? Contact him at milesblumhardt@coloradoan.com or on Twitter @MilesBlumhardt. Support his work and that of other Coloradoan journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.