Update: Remember that most resorts outside the Front Range in this forecast are closed for the season. The next storm system will impact southern Colorado primarily on Thursday night and Friday. Moisture will spread north Friday afternoon through Saturday and impact the Front Range Ski areas. This system is very moist. The lack of cold air may limit snowfall in some areas. Multiple wind shifts may land some snow for most every mountain range in Colorado (Above 8,000 feet). Friday morning will deliver significant snow in the south as it pushes due north in a line from Durango to Aspen. (Southern and northern San Juans). Winds are what allow us to focus on snowfall as direction is often the key component on who sees the highest snow totals. This system will tease us with S, SE, W, and finally NE which impacts the urban corridor Friday afternoon into Saturday.
Heavy snow will be falling over the San Juan Mountains Friday morning under southerly flow. The lack of westerly winds may limit snowfall to 5-8 inches over Wolf Creek (Closed), and really crank out impressive amounts west and north of Pagosa Springs. If this were mid winter, I would be chasing to Silverton, Purgatory where it's possible that 12-15 inches fall by late Friday. Metro areas at higher elevations near Lake Vallecito may see significant impacts (North of Durango). Telluride grabs moderate snow just on the western edge of the highest moisture. Most of the snowfall in the southern and central mountains will fall late Thursday night into Friday late morning before pushing north and east towards the urban corridor Friday evening.
Below: Total snowfall Friday morning showing most precipitation extending from the southern San Juans due north into Red Mountain Pass, Ouray, Silverton, and Aspen (The 9 on the map is near Aspen or the Maroon wilderness). Most of this snow will be at upper elevations with much less at the bases.
Snow will increase over the I-70 corridor Friday afternoon and continue into Saturday morning. The GFS model is showing higher amounts for Eagle County (Vail, Beaver Creek) with the Euro pushing higher amounts towards Grand County (Berthoud Pass, Winter Park) and Loveland Pass. The NAM shows decent snow for both areas. Multiple wind shifts are creating some mystery wildcards to this forecast.
Below: GFS as of Saturday morning increasing snow totals in the western sections of Colorado including Steamboat. Higher amount noted north of Boulder County into Rocky Mountain National Park with moderate amounts near Loveland Pass. The Euro shifts more moisture east over the Front Range ski areas (We can't share the Euro on this post).
The bottom line: Confidence is very high for significant high mountain snow (12-16) for the San Juan mountains Thursday night into Friday. Confidence is moderate for 5-9 inches in areas west of Summit County (Vail Pass). Aspen may score higher amounts.
If I were hunkered down on the Front Range, I would be watching all resorts Friday PM through Saturday AM. Models are showing higher amounts north of I-70 (Berthoud Pass and Winter Park). A Basin and Loveland should also do well in this pattern provided winds continue with a north or northeast direction (Too far east puts more snow on the front range foothills and can skip areas on the western side of the Divide). Its not likely, but skunks can push most snow up north into Rocky Mountain National Park, Eldora, and areas east or north of most of Summit County.
There are lots of wildcards in this final forecast for the season. If I had to guess on amounts plan on 5-9 inches on Vail Pass, 12-15 inches in the southern San Juans, 3-5 Steamboat, 11-15 Berthoud Pass, 7-10 Winter Park, 6-11 Loveland, 6-9 A-Basin, and 4-9 for Breckenridge.
The Good: Mostly Friday afternoon through Saturday snowfall for the Front Range. Most ski areas should see decent totals by 9 AM Saturday. Snow showers continue during the day. The Bad: Some of you that took your snow tires off may be struggling in traffic on I-70 Saturday morning. Multiple wind shifts puts lots of discrepancy in my forecast. Its possible that the Front Range Foothills or Rocky Mountain National Park score the highest amounts.
Enjoy the powder everyone! Thanks for all your support in following the Chase Forecast this season. I will be in Mountain Bike mode chasing brown pow for the next several months. You can chase the dirt from the year round rideable areas(Front Range near Denver, Moab, Fruita) to the south sides of Park City, Sun Valley and lower elevations of Jackson. This is followed by higher elevations near Aspen, and Crested Butte. There really is a chase here (Tacky dirt, wildflowers, etc.).
Enjoy the remainder of your turns this season! Lets hope this storm delivers as forecasted!
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