Temperatures Tuesday are expected to be downright spring-like, but the respite will be short-lived.

The warmth is ahead of extremely high winds and much colder temperatures that are expected to hit the Southeastern Plains, including Otero and Bent Counties, beginning Wednesday.

"Damaging winds are near certain," National Weather Service Meteorologist Steve Hodanish told the La Junta Tribune-Democrat. "It's going to be very, very windy Wednesday afternoon and Thursday, with winds decreasing but still strong through Thursday,"

Hodanish said gusts could reach 65-75 mph during that time frame.

The question is whether we'll see rain or snow. 

Hodanish said there's an 80 percent chance of precipitation Wednesday, but the unknown at this time is what type of precipitation is going to occur.

If the temperature dips low enough, the snow and wind will combine into blizzard conditions.

"People really need to pay attention to the weather on Wednesday," Hodanish said.

Driving conditions across Southeastern Colorado could be treacherous Wednesday. Before heading out, check with CoTrip.org for current road conditions, including closures.

As Hodanish warned, folks need to stay aware when wind speeds hit the "damaging" level, which the NWS describes as being above 58 mph.

During high-wind conditions, small branches can break off trees, street signs may become loose and unsecured objects can be blown about, becoming dangerous projectiles. Large weak or diseased trees can lose branches or even blow down. Power outages can also occur.

To prepare for high winds:


Make sure your property is secure: Remove any dead trees or overhanging branches near structures, loose roofing materials and objects in yards, patios, roofs or balconies that could blow away.
Shutter windows securely and brace outside doors.
Bring in unsecured objects from patios and balconies and secure outdoor objects, such as lawn furniture or garbage cans that could blow away and cause injury.

If you're caught outside during high-wind conditions:


Attempt to take cover next to a building or under a shelter.
Stand clear of roadways or train tracks, as a gust may blow you into the path of an oncoming vehicle or train.
Use handrails where available on outdoor walkways and avoid elevated areas, such as roofs, without adequate railing.
Watch for flying debris.
Avoid anything that may be touching downed power lines, including vehicles and tree branches. Puddles and even wet or snow-covered ground can conduct electricity in some cases.

If you're driving in high-wind conditions:


Keep both hands on the wheel and slow down.
Watch for objects blowing across the roadway and into your path.
Keep a safe distance from cars in adjacent lanes, as strong gusts could move them into your lane of travel.
Take extra care if you're driving a high-profile or light vehicle or towing a trailer, and heed Colorado Department of Transportation alerts and closures.
If winds are severe enough to prevent safe driving, get onto the shoulder of the road and stop, making sure you are away from trees or other tall objects that could fall onto your vehicle. Stay in the car and turn on the hazard lights until the wind subsides
If a power line falls on your car, stay inside the vehicle. Take care not to touch any of the metal frame of your vehicle. Honk your horn, roll down the window and warn others of the danger. Ask someone to call the police, and do not exit the vehicle until help arrives, unless it catches on fire. In that case, open the door but do not step out. Instead, jump to safe ground without touching any of the metal portions of the car's exterior

The temperature Tuesday is expected to top out at 68, but Wednesday's high at this time is expected to hit the mid-40s. Below-freezing temps are forecast Wednesday night, and cold, cloudy conditions will continue Thursday. The high Thursday is expected to be only 42, and the low will plummet to 21.

The sun is expected to return Friday as the barometric pressure begins to rise and warmer temperatures return for the weekend.

jfairman@chieftain.com