Warmer temperatures hit Craig along with rain and snow mix
January 8, 2017
Craig — Warmer weather is expected this week, which is sure to thaw Northwest Colorado after back-to-back days of subzero temperatures.
Monday's high is predicted at 41 degrees. Snow also is expected to return this week, and higher temperatures could turn frozen precipitation into rain.
National Weather Service Meteorologist Tom Renwick said that the official low temperature on Sunday morning was 8 degrees in Craig while Saturday's low was minus 30 degrees, a 39-degree difference.
Night time temperatures in Northwest Colorado are expected to remain below freezing throughout the week, but on Monday, daytime temperatures could climb to the high 40s before dropping back into the 20s on Thursday and Friday, according to the National Weather Service.
The change in temperature is being driven by large amounts of warm moist air moving into the area from the Pacific sometimes called a "Pineapple Express," Renwick said.
As a result, the weather service is predicting for western Colorado and eastern Utah to experience prolonged snowfall.
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The phenomenon happens "when you get the jet stream and an area of low pressure bringing in huge amounts of moisture off the Pacific," Renwick said. "It doesn't shut down; it keeps pumping moisture into the area."
Meteorologists use the name "Pineapple Express" because the moisture generally originates close to Hawaii. Another name for the phenomena is the "Atmospheric River," Renwick said.
"Monday and Wednesday look to be the wettest days of the week, with possible accumulations of four to six inches in the valleys and about 24 to 28 inches of rain, snow mix in surrounding mountain areas," Renwick said.
Renwick has varied confidence in the forecast due to localized inversions.
"Inversions create cold air at the surface and warm air aloft. When the inversion breaks, the warm air mixes down to the surface," Renwick said. "Determining when inversions are going to break and how that will affect precipitation is difficult to forecast."
The team of 10 meteorologists in Grand Junction expect to update their forecast frequently as inversions break and conditions change.
"Check forecasts more frequently as the storm develops. There could be much higher accumulations and possible flooding if it turns to rain," Renwick said.
Storm to impact travel
The weather service expects this storm to impact travel, especially over mountain passes.
On Sunday morning the Colorado Department of Transportation had chain laws in effect for commercial vehicles and placed traction restrictions on passenger vehicles.
"During an active traction law, also known as a Code 15, motorists will need to have either snow tires, tires with the mud/snow designation, or a four-wheel/all-wheel drive vehicle — all tires must have a minimum one-eighth inch tread," according to the chain law page of the CDOT website.
For real-time information on road conditions across the state, including road restrictions, visit cotrip.org.