A major winter storm and frigid temperatures brought summer to a screeching halt in the Rockies on Tuesday.
A day after temperatures soared into the 90s in Denver, highs were only expected to top out in the 30s on Tuesday, forecasters said.
“This would be the earliest in recorded history that a swing of this magnitude occurs,” AccuWeather meteorologist Jake Sojda said. Usually, such wild swings in temperature occur in the winter, he said.
Weather.us meteorologist Ryan Maue tweeted that “at 10:00 a.m. ET there were 1.3 million Americans in the Lower 48 at or below freezing – on September 8th – in summer!”
Snow is accompanying the chilly temperatures: Away from paved surfaces, Denver is expected to receive 3 to 6 inches of snow by Wednesday morning with higher accumulations expected in the higher elevations of the Rocky Mountains, AccuWeather said.
As much as 2 feet of snow was possible in the highest peaks of Colorado, the National Weather Service said. The Weather Service in Denver warned of broken tree limbs, scattered power outages and slick mountain roads due to the snow.
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In addition to Colorado, winter storm warnings were also in effect in portions of Wyoming, Utah, Nebraska and New Mexico.
Strong winds knocked out power in northern Utah, where temperatures dropped by 40 degrees.
Freeze and frost warnings were also posted for parts of Montana, Idaho, Colorado, Nebraska, North Dakota and Minnesota.
One bit of good news was that the heavy snow could suppress the Cameron Peak Fire, a major blaze in northern Colorado that more than quadrupled in size over the hot Labor Day weekend.
The cooler air mass will also spread into the Pacific Northwest and Great Basin, easing the recent heat wave there, the Weather Service said.
The searing, record-breaking heat that scorched California over the weekend will also be diminished on Tuesday and Wednesday. The “triple-digit heat that the West Coast has seen over the past few days will be a thing of the past by the middle of the week,” Weather.com said.
In the central U.S., the cold front that brought the chill to the Rockies will continue to slowly push east through the end of the week, providing a focus for heavy rain and thunderstorms along and ahead of the front, especially for the Southern Plains, the Weather Service said.
A swath of heavy rain can also be expected across the upper Midwest north of the front.
Contributing: The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Denver weather: Snow storm hits Rockies after 90-degree weekend