Be prepared for a wild commute Friday evening.
The National Weather Service in Grand Junction expects a cold front to move into Southwest Colorado on Friday afternoon, which will intensify snowfall and cause the storm to drop snow levels down to lower elevations around Durango and Bayfield.
Up in the high country and on mountain passes during this time, more than a foot of snow could fall.
“That’s when we do expect there to be some moderate to possible heavy snow in most of the areas down there,” said Kris Sanders, a meteorologist with NWS.
A winter storm warning is in effect until 5 p.m. Saturday for the San Juan Mountains, including the towns of Silverton, Hesperus, Rico, Telluride and Ouray.
As expected, a snowstorm dropped into Southwest Colorado late Wednesday night, bringing snow to the high country and mostly a rain-snow mixture to Durango.
Purgatory Resort reported 4 inches of new snow in the past 24 hours as of 4 p.m. Thursday. At Wolf Creek Ski Area, a total of 9 inches of new snow fell in that same time period.
For the most part, the storm lulled Thursday, Sanders said, which forecasters were not expecting. As a result, the storm likely won’t hit snow totals predicted earlier this week. But for the most part, predictions are on track, he said.
Friday morning’s commute should be relatively painless, Sanders said, as moisture will be relatively light and is expected to remain mostly rain. The mountain passes, however, could be dangerous.
The storm is expected to continue to drop snow overnight Friday and leave the region by Saturday.
As of 4 p.m. Thursday, none of the mountain passes around Southwest Colorado were closed or had chain laws in effect. But, authorities across the region are continuing to drive home the message of safe travel for those on the roads during the Thanksgiving weekend.
“We’ll take the water and the weather, but please drive safely as you enjoy the holiday with your loved ones!” Colorado State Patrol’s Durango office posted to social media.
Durango Police Cpl. William Sweetwood said all in all, Thursday had been a pretty quiet day.
“There’s not much going on,” he said. “We had one fender-bender this morning, but it wasn’t because of weather. They just were not paying attention.”