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Colorado weather: More snow in Denver, foothills tonight before tapering off Friday morning

Update 6 p.m.: A final wave of moisture streaming over Colorado will drop 3 inches to 7 inches of snow on the Denver metro and 6 inches to 14 inches on the foothills tonight, according to National Weather Service forecasters.

There was widespread, moderate snowfall throughout the Interstate 25 corridor and foothills at 5:30 p.m., which should taper off by sunrise Friday, forecasters said.

Hazardous travel conditions are still expected throughout the region tonight as wet, slushy roads freeze in falling temperatures and cause hazardous driving conditions.

Update 3:10 p.m.: Roads may be slushy across metro Denver for now, but forecasters at the National Weather Service in Boulder expect that to change overnight as temperatures drop and snow continues falling.

“Most of the area is hovering around 33, 34 degrees right now, with road temperatures around 35 or 36 degrees,” NWS Boulder meteorologist Russell Danielson said. “That’s why plenty of snow is melting on the roadways.”

However, temperatures will gradually drop into the upper 20s overnight throughout the Denver area. Denver’s expected evening low is 26 degrees.

That temperature drop will also come with another expected 4 to 8 inches of snowfall by Friday morning, Danielson said.

“That will allow for icy roads, for snow-covered roads,” he said.

The Colorado State Patrol is advising drivers to not venture onto roads Thursday evening and overnight if they can avoid it.

Further east at Denver International Airport, where snowfall has had a little less impact, Danielson said, overnight temperatures and additional accumulation in that area will be a little less than in the rest of Denver, but the NWS does expect roads there to get treacherous overnight as well.

Despite city officials’ repeated urgings in the leadup to the storm to stay off the roads, spots were at a premium on Thursday afternoon in the upper parking lot at Ruby Hill Park.

By 2 p.m. upwards of 100 people ranging from young children towing sleds to 20-somethings strapping on ski and snowboarding boots were swarming the west Denver park known for its sledding hill and Ruby Hill Rail Yard skiing and snowboarding terrain area.

“When I-70 is closed there are only so many places you can go,” said Lane Parker as she stood at the top of the sledding hill alongside her sister-in-law Autumn Gardner.

The two women were accompanied by Parker’s husband, Gardner’s two dogs and their six combined children. Amid the controlled chaos of sledding, Gardner said it felt like they were keeping an eye on 20 kids.

Her daughter, Aspen, 17, said she was just happy to have a day off school and be able to sleep in amid the storm. The family lives in the nearby Harvey Park neighborhood and sliding down Ruby Hill in one form or another is an annual tradition.

“This is our first time sledding this year,” Aspen said. She expected downhill speeds to increase throughout the afternoon.

“It’s going to get packed down. A lot of people walking up,” she said.

Phil Shvartsman made his first visit to Ruby Hill on Thursday since moving to the Denver area from New Jersey a month ago. He was pleasantly surprised.

“I didn’t expect actual features. I thought it would just be a hill with some jumps,” he said as he loaded his snowboard into the back of his car. “This was fun. I wanted to get more rail work in.”

The 28-year-old had visited Colorado multiple times before but he said this week’s storm is the first “proper snow” he’s experienced as a state resident.

“I’ve basically been in a T-shirt since I moved here,” he said.

Update 12:50 p.m.: A brief lull in snowfall pummeling the Front Range is over, and snow will continue throughout the Denver metro into the evening before tapering off Friday morning, according to the National Weather Service.

Denver residents can expect to see between 4 and 10 inches of additional snowfall through the evening, with the most accumulation in the south and west areas of the city, said meteorologist Chad Gimmestad with the NWS Boulder office.

“We’re going to have steady snow again through the afternoon into the evening and diminishing overnight. There may be a little bit left over Friday,” Gimmestad said.

The heaviest snow will continue to hit the foothills, with an additional 1 foot to 2 feet of snow expected, he said.

The storm is expected to continue to snarl roads and major highways through the day, with the Colorado Department of Transportation warning of a likely Interstate 25 closure at Monument Hill in the afternoon and evening.

Before the snow picked back up, some residents in Denver’s Baker neighborhood took advantage of the lull to shovel sidewalks or get a quick bite. At 11 a.m., the traffic on South Broadway — a typically busy thoroughfare — was abnormally light.

The Mayan Theater, Native American Bank, restaurant Chubby Cattle Denver and tattoo shop Sol Tribe all hung signs on their front doors, indicating temporary closures due to the snow storm. But coffee shops and restaurants still attracted clientele. Ten minutes after opening, Postino Broadway had already seated two tables. Five customers sat at Snooze, an A.M. Eatery’s bar, with eight tables occupied and a slight wait at the host stand.

“We’re closing early,” said Genia Simonova, the barista behind the counter at Huckleberry Roasters. Three customers sat at tables inside, typing on their laptops, with hot drinks and pastries. Simonova described business as “pretty slow,” with most patrons stopping by to either use the coffee shop’s wifi or find a place to work away from crowded homes.

Drivers filled up on gas and grabbed coffee inside of gas stations Conoco and Sinclair, but Conoco employee Michelle Gonzales said, “We still have a steady pace, but not as busy as we should be.”

The snow along Broadway had already turned to deep slush and water at some intersections. Around two dozen patrons shopped at Safeway, with at least one customer heading toward his parked car with a new snow brush in hand. On Tuesday evening, the shelves at Trader Joe’s in the Capitol Hill neighborhood were barren, but, by Wednesday afternoon, only the frozen pizza and fresh meat sections lacked product at Safeway. By noon, the wind and snow began to pick up again in the area.

Update 11:23 a.m.: Most of Denver and the northern and eastern suburbs will start seeing a lull in the snow until about noon, National Weather Service Boulder meteorologist Paul Schlatter said, but additional heavy snow is still on the way.

Central Denver could see an additional 8 to 12 inches of snowfall from noon to midnight, Schlatter said, bringing the total to about 10 to 16 inches by the end of the storm.

Denver International Airport, which has only seen about a half inch of snow so far because of temperatures hovering right above freezing overnight, will see increasing accumulation as the temperature drops below freezing.

Schlatter said that area, as well as Interstate 70 east of Denver toward Limon, could pick up about 4 to 6 inches of snow.

The western and southern Denver suburbs won’t see the same lull as other parts of the metro and will pick up an additional 16 to 22 inches throughout the day. Interstate 25 south of Castle Rock to Colorado Springs will likely see another foot of snow.

Schlatter said the NWS still expects over three feet of snow for the foothills.

Traffic was light and few people were out in the west Washington Park neighborhood Thursday morning. But Ian Peterson was out and busy clearing the sidewalks around the block at Pearl Street and Fourth Avenue.

“I have this thing, so It’s easy,” Peterson said, pointing to his snow blower.

Down the street, Jenn Prileszky was watching as her three children were helping a neighbor build a snow fort. She said her kids heard the snow blower going and wanted to get outside.

“This is our first winter in Colorado so the snow is still kind of a novelty,”  said Prileszky, whose family recently moved from Georgia. “We’ve been in the mountains a bit.”

Isabel, 4, and her brothers Adam, 3, and Teddy, who will be 1 on Sunday, had their snow suits and hats on and were ready to help packing snow for the walls of the fort.

Original reporting, 6 a.m. Thursday: A major Colorado snowstorm arrived overnight Wednesday and has already dropped more than 2 feet of snow in some areas of the Front Range foothills and up to 10 inches across metro Denver early Thursday morning.

The storm is forecast to drop more than a foot of snow over most of the Denver area and more than 4 feet of snow in some areas of the foothills and mountains by Friday morning, according to the National Weather Service in Boulder.

Outside the foothills, there is a lull in the snowfall Thursday morning across Denver, but forecasters said that’ll pick up again by Thursday afternoon.

“We don`t expect a total cessation, but the lower elevations roughly along/just east of I-25 will see some breaks,” forecasters said on the NWS website. “Widespread and heavier snowfall is then expected to redevelop (Thursday) afternoon and continue into the evening.”

Forecasters expected snowfall rates to increase to about 1 inch per hour in the Denver and Boulder areas and up to 2 inches per hour in the foothills.

The snow will taper off again before daybreak Friday morning, but not before another 6 to 12 inches falls across metro Denver and another 14 to 26 inches falls in the foothills.

“Therefore, the storm total forecast with some spots reaching 4 feet or more in the foothills is right on track,” forecasters said.

School districts across the region canceled classes Thursday, including in Denver, Englewood, Littleton, Westminster, Cherry Creek, Jefferson County, Douglas County and Adams County.

Most Front Range city and county governments, as well as the Colorado General Assembly, are also closed Thursday.

Major highways likely will see closures throughout the day due to adverse driving conditions, including Interstate 70, Interstate 25 and U.S. 285, according to state transportation officials.

NWS forecasters advised drivers not to drive into the foothills at all or be prepared to get stranded for an extended amount of time. Across metro Denver as well, difficult travel is possible and many neighborhood streets could become impassable.

People should only try to drive in the event of an emergency and be prepared with a winter survival kit in case they become stranded, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation.

Road conditions began deteriorating along the I-70 mountain corridor Wednesday night, with the highway closing at multiple points for safety concerns.

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