Winter approaches Garfield County |

Winter approaches Garfield County

Pat Bulik sweeps leaves into a pile before putting them in a bag in front of a house on Blake Avenue in downtown Glenwood on a sunny and warm Tuesday morning.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent
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The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning Wednesday due to the cold front moving in. “The red flag warning simply means that a combination of relative humidity lower than 15 percent, wind gusts higher than 25 mph and critical fuels are expected,” National Weather Service Meteorologist Mike Charnick said. “The conditions are favorable for fire spreads.” The red flag warning was lifted at 9 p.m.

When Glenwood Springs wakes up Thursday, they may see the first snow of the season.

Wednesday night into Thursday morning marks the first winter weather advisory for the season, right on the tail of a red flag fire warning.

“For the Glenwood area, we have about an inch of snow in the forecast, and a little less out toward Rifle,” National Weather Service meteorologist Michael Charnick said.

The flat tops north of Glenwood Springs, Sunlight Mountain to the south and Battlement Mesa may see more snow—3 or more inches, Charnick said.

The temperatures will cool off, Charnick said, but that may not be enough for snow to stick to the roads.

On the other hand, the snow is likely to come in the coolest part of the night, between midnight and 7 a.m. Thursday.

“The timing is right to see something on the roads, it’s just a matter of whether air temperatures cool down enough,” Charnick said.

Forecast map of cold front moving in from the northwest. (National Weather Service)
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After the snow Thursday morning, the temperatures are expected to rise somewhat into a blustery but sunny afternoon.

But the weather advisory includes an ominous note about Thursday night: “Much colder air will move in behind this front with a widespread killing freeze anticipated Thursday night into Friday morning.”

While the county prepares for the first snow, hundreds of firefighters working the Middle Mamm Creek fire south of Rifle are bracing for the strong winds of the cold front.

The county is a little above average in precipitation. The National Weather Service measures the county precipitation data in Rifle, which gets an average of 11.6 inches each year.

To date this year, the weather station has measured 10.9 inches, which puts Garfield County slightly ahead of the average precipitation levels.

“We are still running a slight surplus for the year,” Charnick said.

But most of that came from the heavy winter earlier in 2019, and the past two months have been abnormally dry, Charnick said.

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