In a memorable year in which Boulder saw record April snow and historically heavy rain in September, it should probably be no surprise that the typically mild first week of October is predicted to bring the city its first snow.
The average date for Boulder's first snow is roughly two weeks later, Oct. 19. Boulder's first measurable snow in 2012 didn't come until the fourth week of October, with 4.6 inches falling the night of Oct. 24 into the following morning.
National Weather Service meteorologist Kari Bowen said that after a nice start to the day Thursday, a low-pressure system that triggered heavy rain and snow in the Pacific Northwest early in the week will work its way toward Colorado as the day progresses.
After highs in the mid-60s Thursday, temperatures should slip later in the day with a chance of isolated showers and thunderstorms after mid-afternoon.
More significant moisture will not come until nightfall, likely starting as rain before midnight. With lows in the mid-30s, a rain-snow mix is expected late in the evening, with the rain then switching over to snow, with 1 to 2 inches of snow falling most likely between 3 and 9 a.m. Friday.
"We're not expecting a lot," Bowen said. "Obviously, with it being somewhat warm, a lot of it is going to melt. We're expecting 1 to 2 inches are possible, and most of that accumulation will be on the grass. A lot will melt on the blacktop and concrete and whatnot."
As the system moves off to the northeast, Friday will remain mostly cloudy, with highs only in the mid- to upper 40s and lows Friday night sinking into the upper 20s.
The early preview of winter will be followed by more seasonal weather for the weekend. The University of Colorado football team should be hosting the University of Oregon under sunny skies, with highs in the mid-50s. Sunday should be even more pleasant -- sunny again, with temperatures climbing toward the mid-60s.
Weather year for the books
It has already been a weather year for the history books in Boulder. April rewrote the record for snowfall in that month, with 47.6 inches, making it the snowiest April on record, easily eclipsing the previous mark of 44 inches set in April 1957.
September will long be remembered for its 18.06 inches of rain -- roughly doubling the previous record for any month -- including 9.06 inches for one 24-hour period, also a record. That triggered highly damaging floods from which the Front Range is still recovering.
But Bowen said the coming moisture should not complicate recovery efforts or trigger renewed flooding.
"We're keeping an eye on it," she said. "We don't think it will have a large impact. A lot of it depends on how much drops as rain, versus snow, and how quickly the system is moving. It should be moving quickly enough that it shouldn't have a large impact."
Flood-damaged roads can't support plows
Boulder County officials asked for cooperation from drivers, considering many roads are still damaged from flooding and can't support truck snow plows. They said road maintenance crews are "preparing alternative methods for snow removal along flood-damaged routes," including the use of graders, which will take longer than typical plowing.
Officials ask people to drive slowly and carefully on snowy county roads, be aware that some roads are down to one lane, be aware that snow could be hiding hazards from the flood damage, give the right-of-way to oncoming snow removal equipment, and allow extra time on damaged roads.
Brainard Lake Drive will not be plowed, nor will parts of Lefthand Canyon Drive, James Canyon, Balarat Road, Gold Run Road, Lee Hill Road, Wagonwheel Gap Road, Pinto Drive, County Road 82E and Pika Road.
For more information about county snow removal, call 303-441-3962.
Contact Camera Staff Writer Charlie Brennan at 303-473-1327 or firstname.lastname@example.org.