Colorado weather: High winds impact Front Range, prompting red flag warning in Southern Colorado

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
A sign warns motorists of high winds and hazardous travel on Hwy. 93 near Rocky Flats on Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021.

Updated 12:34 p.m.

Strong, gusty winds will hit the Front Range Tuesday afternoon, bringing elevated fire danger to areas without snow. 

Gusts could be as strong as 50 miles per hour in the Denver metro area and Southern Colorado. Mountainous communities along the Front Range could see up to 60-mile-per-hour winds, which could lead to dangerous wind chill conditions. 

“In those areas where those high winds are blowing, which is like those higher mountain passes on the east slopes of the Front Range, we could end up with temperatures in the 20s,” National Weather Service meteorologist Caitlyn Mensch said. “It's not gonna be very hard for those temperatures to end up feeling like in the negative teens.“

The NWS is warning people that strong bursts of wind could knock down trees or cause power outages. A red flag warning is in effect until Tuesday evening for Colorado Springs, Pueblo, and parts of the southeast plains, due to a combination of strong winds, low humidity, and warm temperatures. 

High winds and blowing snow are causing hazardous driving conditions along Interstate 70. Eastbound lanes in Vail closed Tuesday morning around 7:30 a.m. Transportation officials reopened the road at 10:51 a.m.

The winds are expected to die down by Wednesday morning, when another snowstorm begins to roll through the state. Snow totals for the Denver metro area aren’t expected to reach the same heights achieved in the last two Wednesday snow storms. The storm will be concentrated in high-elevation areas within the southern part of the state. 

“It looks like looking towards that afternoon, evening time frame, there could be some snow showers that move out onto the plains as well, but it's not looking like a major event right now,” Mensch said. 

Ski areas along Interstate 70 are expected to receive up to four to six inches of snow through Thursday.