Either side of a foot of snow is expected in the Aspen area and Colorado mountains, according to a winter storm warning issued by the National Weather Service.
The warning, which lasts until 6 a.m. Thursday, calls for snow totals of 8 to 14 inches, with the heaviest snow likely above 9,000 feet.
The weather service said thunderstorms are possible with moderate to heavy rain in the lower valleys. The system pulling moisture from the southwestern U.S. will merge Wednesday with a much colder system dropping in from the northwest.
“A strong cold front associated with this second system will bring snow levels down to mountain bases and some valley floors by Wednesday afternoon,” the NWS predicts. “The central and southern mountains will see the highest snow accumulations with 10 to 20 inches expected through Thursday morning and upwards of 2 feet or more in the San Juan Mountains.
Combined with the storms from the past few weeks, the Colorado Avalanche Information Center has an avalanche warning (level 4 of 5) for Wednesday, and travel in the backcountry is not recommended.
“Very dangerous avalanche conditions may develop by Wednesday,” according to the CAIC forecast. “Heavy snowfall and strong winds will increase the chances of natural avalanches. Quickly changing conditions will make human-triggered avalanches likely.”
Many flights into and out of Denver International Airport, including those from Aspen, have been canceled. Travelers should check the airport’s website aspenairport.com or their airlines. Nearly all of the flights leaving or arriving to Aspen on Wednesday have been canceled.