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May 12, 2014

Spring snowstorm threatens

DENVER — A powerful spring storm dropped more than a foot of sloppy, wet snow in parts of Colorado and Wyoming on Mother’s Day, and forecasters warned that instability ahead of the cold front created conditions ripe for tornadoes and severe thunderstorms in the Plains states.

The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for most of northern Colorado and parts of southern Wyoming for all of Sunday and for Monday morning. Strong thunderstorms and tornadoes developed in Nebraska and were threatening to push south on Sunday. The storm also created high winds across the West.

Kyle Fredin, a meteorologist for the weather service in Boulder, said the weather pattern is typical for this time of year, and “it’s going to be kind of the same thing pretty much through the end of June.”

Several tornadoes were reported in southeastern Nebraska, the weather service said, blowing down outbuildings and damaging power poles and irrigation systems. Large hail and strong winds seen in the state were expected to head south into Kansas, and a tornado watch was issued for parts of Oklahoma.

The storm was expected to weaken as it heads northeast from the Plains, possibly bringing rain as it moves into the Great Lakes, the weather service said.

In Colorado, snow amounts could vary greatly as temperatures continue to drop later Sunday. But up to 15 inches could fall at higher elevations and 4 to 9 inches could fall at lower elevations, including Denver and other cities along Colorado’s Front Range.

“May snow certainly isn’t unheard of here in Colorado, even down in the Denver metro area,” said David Barjenbruch, another weather service meteorologist in Boulder. “If we see the total accumulations that we are anticipating from this storm, we are certainly going to see a top 10 May snow event for the Denver metro area.”

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