Colorado is prepping for a major winter storm that could dump feet of snow, with the governor on Thursday activating members of the National Guard to be ready to assist in search-and-rescue efforts.
The weekend storm starts Friday night and could leave up to two feet of snow in the Denver area and even more in areas like Boulder and Fort Collins by Monday, the National Weather Service said.
Parts of Wyoming, including Cheyenne, could also see two feet or more by Monday morning.
Travel will be “difficult or impossible,” the weather service in Boulder said, and Colorado officials urged people to stay home or in another safe place, especially during the storm’s peak.
“Let me advise you: You don’t want to be one of those people that might have to be searched, found and rescued,” Gov. Jared Polis said Thursday. “Much better to, if the snow starts coming down hard in your area, stay at home and not go out.”
Winter Storm Warning issued for Mountains, Front Range Foothills and the Urban Corridor from Friday night into early Monday. Travel will be difficult to impossible through the weekend. Stay tuned into NWS Boulder for the latest updates. #cowx pic.twitter.com/rS74LKTjvB
— NWS Boulder (@NWSBoulder) March 12, 2021
Polis said he authorized the activation of the Colorado National Guard, which will entail around 50 personnel along with specialized equipment to assist in search and rescues.
The director of the state’s department of transportation said snow could fall at a rate of an inch an hour, and she urged people to keep roads clear for essential travel.
The Northern Front Range, which includes Fort Collins, is expected to be the hardest hit, Polis said.
The city of Boulder said it could be the biggest snowstorm seen this year.
Denver’s airport warned of expected flight delays and cancellations, and the Federal Aviation Administration said that travel in Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska could be affected.
The chief of the Colorado State Patrol said that if drivers must travel, they should be prepared with extra clothes, food and water in case they are stranded.
Phil Helsel is a reporter for NBC News.