The I-70 Snowstorm

This has been a snowy March along the Front Range of Colorado and the most recent storm which blew in Friday night and lasted through much of yesterday (Saturday) was unusual in a number of ways.  First, it was quite a cold storm for late March.  For instance, yesterday’s clouds, snow, and strong north winds held Denver’s high temperature to only 23°F (-10°C), a whopping 34°F (19°C) below normal.  The storm also broke several records for single-day snowfall for March 23, almost 11 inches (28 cm) in Boulder, more than a foot and a half (46 cm) east of Denver over the wheat fields that spread to Kansas.

One other weirdly interesting aspect of this storm is that it is following a track just about due eastward from the snow field it left in Colorado yesterday to the areas it will affect tomorrow as it moves off the east coast of the U.S. in the afternoon.  In fact, it seems to be using I-70, one of the essential east-west routes of the Interstate Highway system, as its guide.  Just look at this map of I-70’s route overlaid with the area of snow already deposited by the storm and forecasted to fall in the next 24 hours:

Image

There’s not a bad correlation at all between the path of I-70 and the path of the storm’s snowfall.

It is not uncommon for a storm to move more-or-less due eastward across the U.S., following the winds in the upper atmosphere which usually blow from west to east at mid-latitudes. However, it is unusual in late March for a storm to take this track and and leave such a continuous layer of snow this far south across the central U.S.  The biggest downside from the storm is probably the chaos it has had and will have on I-70 traffic, the biggest upside: the farmers in the grain belt will be happy.  Now, I’m looking forward to spring!

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About notjustweather

Dave Linder: Meteorologist, computer scientist, writer... and one who enjoys a well-timed quick quip.

Posted on March 24, 2013, in Weather and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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