Winter Storm - March 17-20, 2003
A large, slow moving, moist storm system set up over the southern Great Plains on Monday and brought persistent rain and snow to Southern Colorado from Monday Night through Wednesday night. Most of the accumulating snow fell above 6000 feet, which included the Central and Southeast mountains and high valleys, and the adjacent plains. Areas hardest hit by snow on the plains were the Northern half of El Paso County, and from Southern Pueblo County to the New Mexico state line. Snow amounts just north of Colorado Springs reached above 3 feet, while the official reading at the airport was just 1.7 inches. Many areas around Trinidad received over 1 foot of snow, and Huerfano county amounts close to the mountains ranged from 1 1/2 feet to nearly 4 feet. Sustained winds of 20 to 40 mph caused considerable blowing and drifting of snow, closing several highways and portions of the interstate. Drifts of 4 to 6 feet were reported across portions of Northern El Paso county.
But the greatest amounts of snow fell in and near the Wet Mountains, in Pueblo and Custer counties. Unstable, moist air flowed into the Wet Mountains from Monday night through Wednesday night. Snow amounts were around 5 feet in Custer County northeast of Westcliffe. But even higher amounts were measured and estimated on the east slopes of the Wet Mountains, on the Pueblo Custer county line between 8700 and 9000 feet. Just north of San Isabel Lake in Custer County on highway 165, a very accurate measurement of 74 inches was made. In that same area, an estimate of around 84 inches was logged on the shore of San Isabel Lake. Similar estimates of 6 feet were confirmed a few miles north of San Isabel Lake.
Many of the SNOTEL sites high in the southeast mountains
reported between 2 and 4 feet of new snow, which equated to an increase of snow
water equivalent (SWE) of anywhere from 1 to almost 5 inches.
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