GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KREX) — A strong spring storm is advancing into the Western Slope late Monday night and pushing through the region all of Tuesday. This will have many impactful weather elements through the mid/late week period.

This is a serious storm system with a newly upgraded High Wind Warning for the Grand Valley, Delta and Montrose Monday afternoon through 6 am Tuesday. The strongest wind gusts will continue Monday night and are expected to peak in speed/intensity around midnight as the cold front to our northwest advances. These winds are getting drawn up from the southwest in response to the cold front barreling down on Colorado. This southwest flow helped bump the Monday afternoon temperatures 10° to 20° warmer than Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately the wind will remain in this forecast all of the upcoming week.

There are Winter Storm Warnings in place through Wednesday noon. The warning is for the Grand Mesa, the Uncompahgre, the San Juans, the central and the northern mountain zones. The snow totals will just barely hit the criteria, but the wind is creating the more dangerous hazard with this winter message. Snow totals for those previously mentioned mountain sites should hit 5″-15″ with a few 20″ plus in favored spots. Snow is expected to accumulate in the mountains just before midnight Monday and continue through early Wednesday. Please travel cautiously through all mountain corridors as slick, snowy and blowing snow will make any journey worth rethinking/rescheduling. Blowing snow will create white-out conditions, please make sure you and your vehicle are prepared for winter delays. The lower elevations will also be looking at the chance for accumulating snow early Tuesday morning. Grand Junction has a less than 1″ shot and Montrose is looking at a less than 3″ shot. These totals will depend heavily on the arrival of colder air with precipitation. It may take all night long just to wring out some rain showers, but there should be a few strong showers and thunderstorms possible between midnight and 4 am. There will be plenty of moisture available when the colder air arrives around 7 am with the passage of the cold front. This is the early April snow chance for the lower elevations, early Tuesday morning. It will be heavy and wet, be careful shoveling. Snowfall records for Grand Junction Tuesday is from 1991 at 3.1″. Montrose has a snow record from the late 40s at 7.0″! Neither of which will be achieved per this forecast.

Once this storm passes through the region late Tuesday, aside from some lingering mountain snow showers into Wednesday (Winter Storm Warning expires Wednesday at noon), the next big weather impact will arrive Wednesday and Thursday morning. A Freeze Watch that was upgraded to a Freeze Warning is in place for those mornings as significantly colder air arrives behind the Tuesday storm. Sub-freezing low temperatures are anticipated between 3 am and 9 am for the Grand and the Uncompahgre Valley locations. That means a longer window of damaging temperatures to sensitive plants! Take mitigative efforts to protect plants, pets, pipes and people (in no order of importance). Bring pets inside, check on people regularly and make sure they are equipped for this round of cold temperatures. Bring plants inside or cover them for protection. Using plastic is NOT recommended as it does not breathe. You could water the plants/saturating the soil ahead of time, but do not do this while temperatures are dropping significantly. Pipes need a warm layer of protection. As long as the pipe is not directly exposed because that will lower the chance of a freeze. If pipes do freeze let them thaw naturally, don’t rush the process! Wednesday and Thursday morning’s low temperatures will be damaging temperatures to fruit crops locally and efforts to protect the orchards are in place now to minimize loss.