A stronger-than expected snowstorm dropped a few inches of snow in the Boulder area during the Monday-morning commute, wreaking havoc in the southern parts of the county.
Boulder saw between 4 to 5 inches of snow in the city according to the National Weather Service, with one area in southeast Boulder recording 4.9 inches.
The southeast parts of Boulder County were hit the hardest, with Superior recording 10.3 inches and Louisville recording 8.8 inches. Broomfield recorded about 8.4 inches.
But just a short drive away, Longmont only recorded about an inch of snow, while Fort Collins and Loveland saw sunny skies.
Kari Bowen said the Westminster area got stuck under a heavy band of snow, which explained the drastic difference in snow totals. She also pointed out the snow was cold and fluffy, allowing for the accumulation.
“That swath there saw those higher snow amounts,” said Kari Bowen with the National Weather Service. “You go up just slightly north and they were dry. It was just a really narrow band that sat there most of the morning.”
Forecasters were originally calling for the Monday storm to be similar to last week‘s, dropping maybe 1 to 2 inches of snow.
“Even (Sunday) night most of the models were predicting lower amounts,” Bowen said. “At the time, no advisories were issued, because it was expected to be a lower impact event.”
But when the storm started causing snowfall at around 4 a.m. Monday, Bowen said that is when forecasters began to realize the storm might be stronger than originally anticipated.
“That is when our high res short-term models started picking up on what was actually happening,” Bowen said.
Bowen said winds created a tight cyclonic circle, keeping the storm in the Denver-area.
“Over the course of the morning, when all the models had it clearing out, it just sat there,” Bowen said. “It‘s very hard to predict that in advance.”
In addition to the storm being stronger than anticipated, it hit at just the right time to mess with the morning commute. Boulder, Longmont and Broomfield all went on accident alert for most of the morning, while slide-offs and crashes near Davidson Mesa forced crews to shut down parts of U.S. 36 at times.
In advance of the storm, the Boulder County area also saw some high winds, with the National Center for Atmospheric Research recording gusts of up to 76 mph in Boulder on Sunday night.
But Bowen said the weather for the rest of the week should be much more pleasant.
“The rest of the week into the weekend looks pretty decent over most of the region, with no precipitation and temperatures warmer than normal,” Bowen said.
The forecast calls for mostly sunny skies with highs in the 40s today through Thursday, with highs climbing into the 50s on Friday and Saturday.
“Our next shot at snow won‘t arrive until probably Sunday, with a low pressure system,” Bowen said. “That could bring us something Saturday into Sunday.”