On March 23, 2017, a strong upper trough moved across the Rocky Mountains into the southern plains, and associated surface low deepened over SE Colorado during the evening hours. A dryline extended south from the low through west Texas, with a cold front west of the dryline in New Mexico. During the evening, the cold front accelerated eastward as the system strengthened, kicking up quite a bit of dust from New Mexico and Mexico. The dust can be seen in GOES-16 visible satellite imagery (first image). Additionally, the colder temperatures behind the cold front, and significantly warmer temperatures between the dryline and cold front, could be seen in the 10.3 um IR imagery (second image). As the system strengthened, the cold front raced towards and overtook the dryline. Thunderstorms initiated along this boundary interaction. The readily available 5-min, GOES-16 imagery could be used to monitor the rapid acceleration of the cold front towards the dryline, and anticipate the timing and location of this boundary interaction and subsequent thunderstorm initiation.
Below is a wide look at the storm system evolution from late on the 23rd to early on the 24th. The three GOES-16 water vapor bands (15-min Full Disk) show a rapid tightening of the circulation over SE Colorado. As the surface low strengthened, strong northerly winds developed across the eastern Colorado Plains. Blizzard conditions north of Colorado Springs closed I-25, and widespread wind gusts of 60+ mph were reported across the Colorado Plains, including 75 mph in Pueblo and 63 mph in Colorado Springs.
-Bill Line, NWS