Arctic cold to infiltrate areas from Montana to Colorado as another round of snow targets northern Rockies

Jake Sojda

A significant outbreak of Arctic cold in the Plains and Rockies will be ushered in by another burst of accumulating snow into the first part of next week.

Locally heavy snow blanketed parts of the central and southern Rockies during the middle part of this past week as a fleeting burst of cold air dove southward along the Front Range and into the southern Plains.

After a brief return of warmer air, this next system will deliver more widespread accumulating snow, as well as long-lasting and brutal cold stretching from Montana to New Mexico.

"This next shot of snow and cold arrived in northwestern Montana late Friday before continuing to slide southward arriving in far southern portions of Wyoming by late Saturday night," according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Isaac Longley.

"Anyone heading out Saturday morning in places like Great Falls and Billings, Montana, will find difficult travel due to snow and a sharp turn to cold conditions which will cause any wet or slushy surfaces to freeze," Longley said.

After a mild start, snow and bitter cold will be knocking on the doorstep by late Saturday in Laramie, Wyoming, where Nevada will take on Wyoming in an afternoon college football matchup.

Snow will continue much of Sunday in southern Wyoming and is forecast to reach Colorado and the Wasatch Range of Utah by Sunday night.

The period from late Sunday to Monday night is expected to be the snowiest across Colorado. The Monday morning commute could be slippery in Denver and Fort Collins, Colorado.

The heaviest snow is likely to be confined to the mountains from western Montana to central Colorado with many east-facing slopes expected to receive 6-12 inches of snow.

Lesser amounts of snow are anticipated at lower elevations. However, enough snow is still likely to occur to cause reduced visibility, slippery roads and travel disruptions.

This storm could wind up being Denver's biggest snow event yet this season, with 4-8 inches anticipated in the area.

Stretches of Interstate 25, I-70, I-80 and I-90 through the High Plains and Rockies are likely to be slippery as the snow falls.

Very cold air will follow the snow this weekend, followed by a reinforcing shot of even colder Arctic air next week.

On Friday, highs climbed into the 50s and 60s F with a few places reaching 70 across Montana and Wyoming. However, by Sunday morning, temperatures in the teens and lower 20s are anticipated. Record lows may be challenged in few locales on Saturday night.

A similar temperature plunge of 30 to 50 degrees is likely farther south later this weekend. This includes most communities along and east of the Front Range in eastern Colorado and southeastern Wyoming.

When combined with the snow as the cold is ushered in, the sharp drop in temperature will lead to yet another rapid freeze-up. Areas that receive light snow accumulations may be more susceptible to icy conditions.

"As the snow falls on warm surfaces from the preceding warmup, it will melt first, then quickly freeze as temperatures plummet," according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Alyson Hoegg.

"Surfaces in areas that receive deep snow are more likely to be snow-covered, rather than icy," Hoegg explained.

A harsh burst of cold air is forecast to arrive during the first half of next week. True Arctic air will empty out of northern Canada and sweep across the northern and central Rockies and Plains. Widespread morning lows in the single digits and teens are anticipated across this region during Monday and Tuesday. However, by Wednesday morning, widespread subzero temperatures are possible.

As the cold air spreads farther to the east over the Plains next week, one to two potent storms may develop and spread swaths of heavy snow from the central Plains to the Upper Midwest.

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