A widespread and significant winter storm is expected to dump heavy snow from the central Rockies to the central High Plains and upper Midwest into the weekend, ending a near-record-long snowless streak in Denver.
This system will first make its way through the Rockies of western Colorado and Utah on Thursday, then spread into the central High Plains Thursday night and Friday before reaching the upper Midwest Friday night into Saturday.
The National Weather Service has issued Winter Storm Warnings from Utah's Wasatch Range into the Colorado Rockies, the Wyoming Front Range and the High Plains of southern South Dakota and northern Nebraska. Winter Weather Advisories are posted for various other portions of the Intermountain West.
In the upper Midwest and northern Great Lakes, the NWS has hoisted Winter Storm Watches from southeastern South Dakota and northeastern Nebraska into northern Iowa, southern Minnesota (including Minneapolis/St. Paul), northern and central Wisconsin, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and northern Lower Michigan.
Here is a day-by-day outlook for this winter storm.
Snow is forecast to steadily spread eastward across the central Rockies throughout the day Thursday. The heaviest snow is likely over the higher elevations of the mountain ranges of Utah, western Colorado and southern Wyoming.
However, cold air filtering in from the north will allow for snow to fall into the lower elevations of central Nevada and Utah, including Salt Lake City, which could possibly lead to slippery travel conditions.
By Thursday night, snow will develop over parts of the central High Plains while also continuing to fall in the central Rockies.
Denver still has yet to see measurable snow (at least 0.1 inches). This might change for the Mile High City Thursday night into early Friday, though it probably won't amount to much.
Heavy snow and gusty winds will create hazardous driving conditions on Friday from southern South Dakota and northern Nebraska into northwestern Iowa and southern Minnesota, including Minneapolis/St. Paul. Residents in these areas are advised to plan ahead as difficult travel conditions are increasingly likely with this first significant snowstorm of the season.
Lighter snow is also expected Friday over parts of the Wyoming and Colorado Front Ranges, the Northern and Central Plains and the upper Midwest.
Friday night, snow and gusty winds will continue over the upper Midwest and northern Great Lakes from southeastern South Dakota and eastern Nebraska into Iowa, southern Minnesota, Wisconsin, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and northern Lower Michigan.
The heaviest snow is forecast to set up over central and northern Iowa, southern Minnesota and northern and central Wisconsin.
The snow will continue into Saturday in parts of Wisconsin, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and northern Lower Michigan, though it will gradually taper to lingering snow showers and flurries through the day.
How much snow?
The Rockies of western Colorado and Utah's Wasatch Range are expected to see the heaviest snow with this winter storm. Between 1 and 2 feet of snow is forecast to blanket those areas, which is welcome news for ski resorts suffering from a widespread drought that's plaguing much of the western U.S.
Widespread accumulations of 6 to 12 inches are likely in the Wyoming Front Range, with locally higher amounts over a foot possible in the Snowy and Sierra Madre Mountains.
Salt Lake City will see between 4 and 8 inches of snow, which will be its first measurable snow (at least 0.1 inches) of the season.
Denver is also awaiting the season's first snowfall, and this storm might be able to squeak out a half-inch to perhaps an inch, which would be sufficient to end the city's record-long wait for snow.
As the winter storm arrives in the Plains and upper Midwest on Friday, it's expected to dump more than 6 inches of snow from the Nebraska/South Dakota border into northern Iowa, southern Minnesota, northern and central Wisconsin, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and northern Lower Michigan.
Locations north and south of this zone of heaviest snow totals will see accumulations of less than 6 inches.
There will likely be a very sharp north-to-south gradient in snow accumulations across this region, ranging from an inch or two to more than 6 inches over a short distance. That might cause significant variability in snowfall amounts in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area, with significantly higher totals near or just south of the Twin Cities versus areas to the north.
The warm side of this storm system is expected to produce severe thunderstorms, including the potential for tornadoes, Friday into Saturday in parts of the Midwest, South and mid-Atlantic.
Check back with FOX Weather for updates on both the snowy and warmer sides of the storm.