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Interstate 25, U.S. 287 closed north of Fort Collins
Both Interstate 25 and U.S. Highway 287 were closed north of ForSaturday night due to snow falling at a rate of 2 inches per hour near the Colorado-Wyoming border.
I-25 is closed north of Wellington, while U.S. 287 is closed north of Ted’s Place at the highway’s junction with Colorado Highway 14 toward the Poudre Canyon.
Also late Saturday, Colorado State University announced that it would close all campus activities in Fort Collins scheduled for Sunday.
Fort Collins and Windsor police, along with Colorado State Patrol, are on accident alert. Drivers involved in minor, non-injury crashes are asked to share information with anyone involved and report the crash online to the appropriate authorities.
Snow intensifies as night falls on Fort Collins
Snow from Colorado’s much-anticipated weekend storm began sticking to neighborhood streets in the Fort Collins area as night fell on an otherwise uneventful Saturday of winter weather.
At 6 p.m., streets that were wet but clear all day began to give in to snow accumulation, meaning that Saturday’s reprieve from shoveling sidewalks and navigating snowpacked streets is unlikely to repeat itself Sunday.
The National Weather Service in Boulder released an updated “graphical hazards matrix” Saturday afternoon that shows elevated impacts to travel and infrastructure from snowfall rising from “elevated” Saturday night in Fort Collins to “significant” overnight and then “extreme” throughout Sunday.
With visibility decreasing and road conditions worsening, travelers are advised to avoid all nonessential travel overnight and exercise caution when venturing out.
Dry air decreases snowfall, with increases expected Saturday evening
The National Weather Service in Boulder said that a band of drier air is limiting snowfall across Colorado’s Front Range, though precipitation is expected to increase by late afternoon or early evening Saturday and continue into Sunday.
While snow began falling in flurries Saturday morning, impacts to traffic were minimal by 2:30 p.m. The PulsePoint app that records calls to Poudre Fire Authority showed no significant vehicle crashes by mid-afternoon Saturday, and the Colorado Department of Transportation was reporting no significant crashes on area state and U.S. highways.
Only U.S. Highway 34 (Trail Ridge Road) on the east side of Rocky Mountain National Park was closed to traffic through the park due to weather conditions on highway that crests 12,183 feet in elevation, according to the state’s closure map at cotrip.org.
Snowfall begins, additional closures announced in Fort Collins
A steady mix of rain and snow began falling on Fort Collins shortly before noon, Saturday. While precipitation has been constant across the city, warm ground temperatures and air temperatures above freezing have prevented snowfall from sticking thus far.
Despite the snowstorm’s minimal impacts on local travel, area agencies are preparing for the storm to intensify. Colorado State University set the closure of all buildings on its Fort Collins campus for 5 p.m. Saturday, with a determination on whether campus would reopen Sunday to come prior to 9 a.m. Sunday. University officials asked people to avoid driving or parking on campus after 5 p.m. to allow facilities personnel to perform snow removal duties.
The Larimer Humane Society also set the closure of its shelter for 1:30 p.m. Saturday. Those in need of animal protection and control services emergencies were directed to call 970-226-3647, ext. 7.
OK, the big storm day is here, so where do we stand with snowfall amounts, timing and impacts?
The National Weather Service said its confidence level for the timing, snow amounts and travel impacts are all high as of Saturday morning.
The heavy, wet snow is expected to cause power outages and nearly impossible travel conditions in certain locations late Saturday into Sunday.
Fort Collins power outages:How to track, report and prepare
Wind gusts of up to 40 mph will cause some blowing snow and drifting snow closer to the Colorado-Wyoming border.
As of Saturday morning, DIA had 726 flight cancellations Saturday and 1,316 Sunday. It is advised you check with your airline to confirm your flight status before you head to the airport.
Timing of snowstorm impacts
The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning through 6 a.m. Monday for much of the Front Range, west into the foothills and out to the Eastern Plains. The warning includes Fort Collins and all of Larimer County.
The weather service says the Fort Collins area will start seeing significant impacts about 6 p.m. Saturday with conditions elevating to extreme by 6 a.m. Sunday before returning to significant through 6 p.m. Sunday.
Snow total forecast
Here is a look at what meteorologists are forecasting for the storm as of Saturday morning:
National Weather Service: 18-24 inches in Fort Collins, 24-30 inches in Estes Park, 18-24 inches in Boulder, 12-18 inches in Denver and 24-30 inches in Cheyenne.
The weather service has started issuing probabilities of certain snowfall totals. Fort Collins has a 74% chance of 18 inches of snow or more with a high end of 32 inches, average of 22 inches and low of 14 inches.
9News: 12-24 inches in Fort Collins, 24-48 inches in Estes Park, 12-24 inches in Boulder and 10-20 inches in Denver.
Fox31: 22 inches in Fort Collins, up to 55 inches at Cameron Pass, up to 49 inches in Estes Park, 29 inches in Boulder and 18 inches in Denver.
Denver 7: More than 2 feet of snow in Fort Collins and Boulder, 2 to 4 feet of snow in Estes Park and 8-12 inches in Denver.
CBS4: 15-30 inches in Fort Collins and Boulder, 24-48 inches in the foothills, 12-24 inches in Denver and 20-30 inches in Cheyenne.
Top 10 Fort Collins snowstorms
March 18-19, 2003: 32.2 inches
May 5-7, 1978: 27.8 inches
April 15-17, 2013: 22.4 inches
Nov. 2021, 1979: 22.1 inches
Oct. 28-29, 2009: 21.7 inches
April 3-5, 1983: 21.4 inches
March 29-31, 1970: 21.4 inches
April 2-3, 1957: 20.8 inches
April 13-17, 1945: 20.2 inches
Dec. 20-21, 2006: 19.9 inches
Source: Colorado Climate Center
Note: The December 1913 storm was an epic one for Colorado but not a record for Fort Collins, according to Russ Schumacher, director of the Colorado Climate Center. Fort Collins received 34.5 inches Dec. 1-5, but no snow fell on Dec. 2 so it doesn’t meet he center’s definition of a single storm.
Fort Collins-area snow closures announced Friday
Larimer County natural areas
- The Larimer County Department of Natural Resources closed its properties Friday afternoon through Monday in preparation of the storm. The closure includes Red Mountain, Horsetooth Mountain, Soderberg, Blue Sky, Horsetooth Reservoir east-side day-use areas, Hermit Park and Devil’s Backbone open spaces, according to a tweet from the department.
- Timberline Recycling Center is closed Saturday and Sunday.
- Gardens at Spring Creek is closed Saturday and Sunday.
- Parks and Recreation: All facilities are closed Saturday and Sunday, and weekend programs have been canceled or postponed.
- Natural Areas: Soapstone Prairie and Gateway are closed Friday through Sunday. The Cathy Fromme Prairie parking lot off Fromme Prairie Way, the Pineridge lower parking lot off Larimer County Road 42C, and the Reservoir Ridge parking lot off County Road 23 are also closed Friday through Sunday.
Rocky Mountain National Park
- UPDATE: Because of the timing of the brunt of the storm moving to later on Saturday, the park reopened U.S. Highway 36 at Beaver Meadows Entrance and U.S. Highway 34 at the Fall River Entrance. Trail Ridge Road is currently open to Hidden Valley. Bear Lake Road remains closed as does Wild Basin Road and Longs Peak parking. Beaver Meadows Visitor Center and Fall River Visitor Center remain closed. Road status and conditions may change rapidly and park visitors should be prepared for additional road closures at any time.
- Park officials closed roads on the park’s east side Friday afternoon and evening in order to keep the roads clear for snowplows and emergency responders.
- Closed earlier Friday: Moraine Park campground.
- Closed at 4 p.m. Friday: Wild Basin Road and the Longs Peak trailhead parking area close
- Closed at 6 p.m. Friday: U.S. Highway 36 at the Beaver Meadows entrance and U.S. Highway 34 at the Fall River entrance.
- The park’s eastern entrances will be closed for the weekend, and road conditions will be assessed throughout the weekend, according to a park news release. The Kawuneeche Visitor Center and Trail Ridge Road on the park’s west side will remain open as conditions allow, park officials said.
Thompson School District
- Thompson School District, already on spring break the week of March 14-20, announced that all offices, athletics and activities will be closed or cancelled Monday.
Stay up to date on conditions
Current weather and forecasts:National Weather Service has forecasts for Fort Collins and other cities at https://www.weather.gov/bou/. Call the Colorado Climate Center at Colorado State University, 970-491-6300, for accumulation totals, conditions and any weather records. The automated recording is updated at 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. daily.
Snow totals: See accumulation totals as reported by community volunteers across Fort Collins at www.cocorahs.org.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @MilesBlumhardt. Support his work and that of other Coloradoan journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.