The arctic air we've talked about since this weekend arrives tonight!
Take the time to prepare today by checking your car battery and opening cabinet doors for pipes on exterior walls.
The Basics of this storm:
- An extremely cold arctic airmass will plunge south across Colorado late today and tonight.
- We will see the arctic front hit Colorado Springs around 6 to 7 pm, Pueblo around 7 to 8 pm, and Trinidad around 9 to 10 pm.
- Air temperatures will fall to the negatives by Thursday morning with wind chills in the -20 to -45 degree range.
- Light snow will blow across the region anytime after 8 pm tonight with really minor accumulations.
- 1 to 2 inches are possible in north El Paso County, a half inch or so in downtown Colorado Springs, and less than a half inch for Pueblo.
How Cold Will It Be?
Many towns and cities along and east of I-25 will experience a 30 to 40 degree temperature drop from tonight through Thursday morning.
Daytime high temperatures on Thursday will likely stay at or below freezing for most cities along I-25 north of Pueblo and east of the interstate.
The coldest air temperatures will occur Friday morning. Despite weaker winds, we could still see widespread wind chills in the -20 to -30 degree range.
Wind Chill Danger:
Between 10 pm tonight and 8 am Thursday morning, wind chills will plummet to a range of -20 to -50 degrees.
Here is a loop of the forecast wind chills from 6 pm tonight through 6 am tomorrow. We're talking about a drop in the "feels like" number to -20 to -50 depending on your location#cowx pic.twitter.com/N9A3FQsWor— Sam Schreier (@SamASchreier) December 21, 2022
In these wind chills, frostbite can occur in less than 10 minutes to exposed skin.
See the wind chill chart below to estimate wind chill values based on temperature and wind:
Often described as the "feels like" temperature, wind chill measures the rate of heat loss from exposed skin. As the wind picks up it pushes heat away from our bodies, cooling the skin and body temperature. Only animals and humans experience wind chill.
Current Snow Forecast:
Arctic air will squeeze out extremely light snow late tonight and early Thursday morning.
The air will be so cold only a small amount of moisture available can still produce a few 1-inch areas of fluffy snow!
Blowing snow, light pavement accumulations, and ice are the main issues drivers will face tonight between the Pikes Peak Region and Denver.
The pavement will likely be cold enough that even a dusting of snow could stick to the road and even lead to a few icy spots.
CDOT snowmelt is not very effective for road temperatures below -4 degrees, meaning that CDOT may have to consider just relying on blades and sand for a few eastern plains roads.
This will not be record-breaking cold here in Colorado, but it will be some of the coldest air that we've seen in two years!
For the Pueblo Airport, our current forecast of -17 degrees from Friday morning looks to come pretty close to the existing record of -23 degrees that dates back to 1990.
The last time we saw high temperatures below zero in Colorado Springs was back on February 14, 2021. For Pueblo, that dates back all the way to December 21, 1990!
Another record could be broken up in Montana this Thursday. The current record for high barometric pressure in the contiguous US is 1064 mb (31.42”) at Miles City, Montana on December 24, 1983. Some models are showing a surface high-pressure system as high as 1067 mb in western Montana... which would break the existing record!
Prepare For The Cold:
When temperatures get this cold, we could see damage to property from pipes bursting. Running your faucets on a drip will make it harder for pipes to freeze, and you can always place a space heater a few feet away from exposed pipes on exterior walls.
Also, pets and livestock need to have warm shelters with a source of food and water. Check on elderly neighbors to make sure their homes are warm. Children will feel the effects of these temperatures quicker than adults, so be sure to bundle your kids up with several layers.
Touch up on the signs of frostbite and hypothermia, as someone suffering from these conditions will need medical attention immediately.
The homeless population in southern Colorado will be in danger from frostbite and hypothermia from Wednesday night through Saturday morning. Check in with local shelters and support groups to see if there are any supplies they need to keep people safe from the cold.
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