Wild Start to Spring 2017 in Colorado: From Red Flag Warning to Blizzard Warning in less than 24 hours! (credit: US NWS Denver/Boulder Colorado)
DISCUSSION: Just three days after the Vernal Equinox, the astronomical start to Spring, Colorado has been swinging between seasons weather-wise. This past Thursday, sunny conditions and strong southwesterly winds that pushed warm air into the region allowed temperatures to soar into the upper 70s, tying the record high temperature of 77° Fahrenheit at the Denver International Airport. The low humidity coupled with strong winds prompted the NWS at Denver/Boulder to issue a Red Flag Warning for the eastern half of the state. A red flag warning indicates that conditions are highly favorable for wildfires due to low humidity and strong winds that would allow fires to spread rapidly. However, an incoming winter storm prompted the NWS at Denver/Boulder to issue another warning; this time for an incoming blizzard across the Palmer Divide in Colorado. Blizzard warnings are issued when the combination of snow and strong winds are projected to create low visibility conditions. The storm initially began with rain, but as temperatures dropped substantially (in some areas, up to 45°F from the daytime high), precipitation quickly turned into snow, consequently dumping up to almost 8 inches of snow in certain areas. While the Colorado spring season is known for large temperature fluctuations throughout the day, both a Red Flag Warning and a Blizzard Warming on the same day is hardly a common occurrence!
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©2017 Meteorologist Katie McCracken