Impressive spring storm brings snow, wind, blizzard conditions to High Plains

A strong mid-latitude cyclone moved across the Central/Northern Rockies and into the High Plains on Thursday and Friday, bringing a variety of high impact weather to the region.  Ahead of the storm system, strong southwesterly winds and warm temperatures resulted in several wildfires starting in the Southern Plains, most notably a large fire in Western Oklahoma, as well as a large fire east of Pueblo in Colorado, which fortunately was contained rather quickly.  

As the low pressure system moved east of the Rockies early Friday, a strong cold front brought much colder temperatures (30-40 degree difference in high temperatures) across the Front Range of the Rockies and high plains along with strong winds, and for some areas snow.  The Denver Metro area largely missed out on the snow as the center of the low tracked too far north of the area, and as a result most of the snow fell east and north of the area.  There was a quick burst of snow at the leading edge of the system late Thursday night, however.  Also, the Palmer Divide south of Denver received a band of snow on the back edge of the system Friday evening with respectable snowfall amounts.  The highest impacts with this system occurred over far Eastern Colorado, Western Nebraska, and Western South Dakota.  Below is an image of the GOES 16 Visible Satellite Image from Friday afternoon, showing the mid-latitude cyclone nicely.

 

Image Source: College of DuPage

 

Snowfall amounts of a foot or more were recorded in Western South Dakota in the Black Hills area.  Strong winds resulted in blizzard conditions for Western South Dakota, Western Nebraska, and Eastern Colorado, where winds gusted to 60mph or more in some areas.  For instance, there was a NWS local storm report in Akron, CO on Friday afternoon reporting 8″ of snow on the ground with visibility of less than 500 feet.  Many areas in Eastern Colorado also reported numerous power outages due to wind, and around Limon there were reports of trees uprooted.  Although the major metropolitan areas of Colorado missed out on the highest impacts, this was quite a storm system for the high plains!

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