Critical fire conditions expected to get doused by spring storm

Overnight temperatures expected to drop below freezing this week

Another spring storm is expected to bring a mix of rain and snow to the Four Corners this week, including the possibility of nighttime temperatures dipping below freezing in Durango. Enlarge photo

Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file

Another spring storm is expected to bring a mix of rain and snow to the Four Corners this week, including the possibility of nighttime temperatures dipping below freezing in Durango.

Rain, thunderstorms, wind, snow, hail and cold temperatures will come together this week to make a quintessential Southwest Colorado spring weather cocktail.

And it would be just in time. On Monday, a red flag warning was in effect for most of western Colorado, including Cortez and southern La Plata County, because of critical fire conditions brought by dry conditions and gusty winds. The warning is through 7 p.m. Monday.

According to Matthew Aleksa, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Grand Junction, a significant change to that warm and dry weather is likely as a low pressure system from the Pacific Northwest moves into Southwest Colorado.

The area could see some rain showers and storms in higher elevations as early as Tuesday afternoon, with wind being the biggest concern, Aleksa said.

But the big changes come Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, with a strong chance for precipitation and cold temperatures that are expected to continue until Friday.

The best chance for rain and thunderstorms, Aleksa said, is expected to be Wednesday through Thursday. During that time, higher elevations could see snow accumulations from 6 to 10 inches.

In the lower valleys, that moisture will remain as rain, he said. During the day, temperatures around Durango this week are forecast to remain in the low 50s.

Overnight lows on Wednesday and Thursday, however, are expected to drop below freezing, which could cause snow levels to drop to around 5,000 feet, the NWS said.

Aleksa said it would be a good idea to cover or move cold-sensitive plants indoors during that time.

By Friday, the storm system is expected to have moved to the east, though some isolated rain showers could linger. By the weekend, temperatures are predicted to rise again into the 60s and 70s.

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