Rain showers reported north of Denver Monday night were forecast to turn to snow Tuesday, stretching from the foothills to the plains and sending the temperatures on a wild swing from scorching hot to frigid.
A shallow cold front that moved through Denver Monday evening, stirring the wildfire smoke blanketing the northern Front Range, was the opening act for a strong Canadian cold front moving into Colorado. The National Weather Service predicted wind gusts of up to 50 mph and a temperature plunge into the 20s.
The temperature drop could be one of the biggest in Colorado, said Chad Gimmestad, a forecaster with the weather service in Boulder. Monday was the 73rd day this year that Denver’s temperature was 90 degrees or hotter, tying a record set in 2012.
With temperatures expected to plummet into the 20s, Denver faced the possibility of breaking a 148-year record for the largest temperature change in a 24-hour period. That record, set in January 1872, was a 66-degree dive, according to the weather service.
Gimmestad said the foothills and mountains could get 12 to 18 inches from the storm. The Denver metro area and the Interstate 25 corridor could see slushy, wet snow by Tuesday morning. Snow accumulations were expected to range from 3 to 7 inches.
After seeing the Cameron Peak wildfire west of Fort Collins blow up Monday to 96,402 acres — 150.6 square miles — fire managers said the snow and cold would check the fire’s growth for several days. However, during a new conference Monday night, they said the storm’s ultimate effect on the fire will depend on how much snow falls and how quickly the weather warms up and dries out.
The heaviest snow will likely be Tuesday, Gimmestad said. “It will maybe snow even into Wednesday, but it will be pretty light.”
And temperatures are predicted to climb back into the 80s by Sunday.
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