Thanksgiving likely to bring snow ... at last

As turkey day approaches, high-level clouds are already streaming into southwest Colorado. Though nearly three weeks have passed since Pagosa Country received any measurable precipitation, that will likely change by the time this edition of The SUN hits newsstands.

While the region averages 1.39 inches of moisture in November — and most of that typically falling as snow — the first 10 days of the month brought only 0.63 inches. With but a few days to make up a 0.76-inch deficit, the year-to-date precipitation average for the San Juan River Basin stands at just 58 percent.

With that in mind, a significant winter storm might be construed as a real blessing … except that it’s Thanksgiving and hordes of people are now taking to the state’s highways, doubtless en route to a family dinner somewhere.

Nevertheless, the National Weather Service (NOAA) is calling for a rain/snow mix beginning as early as Wednesday afternoon. Chances of precipitation stand at 20 percent under mostly cloudy skies, with relatively warm daytime highs reaching the mid-50s.

Wednesday night’s low will dip to the low 20s, with a 50 percent chance of early rain and late-night snowfall. Local snow accumulations are not expected to exceed an inch.

Thursday, the big day, rain and snow will continue, with a 60 percent chance of moisture under gray, ominous skies. Temperatures should cool to the mid-40s, so NOAA isn’t suggesting any likelihood of accumulation in the valley.

On Wolf Creek Pass (and the neighboring ski area), however, the service is calling for 6 to 14 inches of powder over the higher terrain. Both up high and down below, a chance of snow showers lingers through the weekend.

In the Pagosa Lakes area, daytime highs will range in the mid- to upper 40s and early-morning lows will fall to the middle teens and low 20s. Skiers can expect daytime highs in the low to mid-20s, while mountain lows will dip to the single digits and low teens. Throughout, skies will remain mostly cloudy.

If the forecast holds true, holiday travel may be most challenging on Thursday, into Friday. However, early predictions do not suggest extreme highway conditions or widespread road closures.

It should be interesting. For those traveling for turkey, be safe and enjoy the holiday.

chuck@pagosasun.com