Colorado weather: Snow, extreme fire danger — and low 70s in Denver

Colorado is a land of weather contrasts Saturday, with snow falling in the high country and critical fire danger in the southern part of the state. Meanwhile, in Denver, the National Weather Service’s forecast calls for a high near 73 under mostly sunny skies.

The weather service’s Boulder office tweeted a photo of snow sticking on Loveland Pass on Saturday morning, with forecasters saying those snow showers should continue sporadically throughout the day at altitudes above 9,500 feet. Wind gusts from 35 mph to 45 mph also are expected in the mountains on Saturday.

Drivers headed into Colorado’s high country on Saturday are warned to watch for icy spots, though most roadways should just be wet, the weather service said.

At the same time, the weather service has issued a red flag warning for the Palmer Divide region of the southern Front Range and southeastern part of the state, warning of critical fire weather — dry and windy conditions that could contribute to rapid fire spread — from noon to 8 p.m. Saturday.

That warning covers Castle Rock and Colorado Springs, along with locations farther east including Limon and Burlington. Residents are strongly discouraged from doing any kind of outdoor burning or operating machinery in dry grasses that could create sparks.

A small wildfire that forced evacuations on Friday already is burning northeast of Colorado Springs.

As for the Denver-area forecast, Saturday also should see breezy winds from the west gusting as high as 30 mph, according to the National Weather Service. Temperatures are expected to fall to around 43 on Saturday night.

Sunday will be a bit cooler, with temperatures expected to peak around 64 under mostly sunny skies before falling to 40 overnight.

Temperatures should remain in the 60s for the first part of the week, with a high of 69 on Monday and a 20% chance of showers on Monday night. Rain is likely on Tuesday, mainly before noon. There’s a 60% chance of precipitation Tuesday, and a forecast high of 62.

That rain should clear by Wednesday, when temperatures are expected to peak at 60 before falling into the high 50s on Thursday and Friday. There’s another slight chance of rain in the forecast for Thursday night.

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