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Wednesday October 1st 2014 9:14am

Summary:

Expect a wave of moderate to heavy rain and snow to move through Colorado on Wednesday with lingering snow showers on Wednesday evening (snow accumulations down to about 9,000ft). Thursday through most of next week will be dry, with the next chance for precipitation around Friday October 10th.

Details:

Yesterday was a cloudy and cool day for most of the Colorado mountains with snow showers falling during the afternoon and early evening.

After a mostly dry night, another wave of precipitation is moving into western Colorado on Wednesday morning. As of about 8am this precipitation is over the western slope and a few showers are pushing east into the higher mountains.

colorado weather snow radar

Wednesday 8am radar. Source: Weathertap.com

Look for bursts of moderate to heavy snow during Wednesday midday as this wave of precipitation passes through. The snow level will start off around 10,000ft, but then drop to 9,000ft during the moderate showers, and perhaps even lower during the most intense bursts of precipitation. Overall this first wave of snow should drop 2-4 inches.

There might be a lull in the precipitation late this afternoon, then additional snow showers will develop this evening from Aspen to the north and these showers will continue through about midnight. This second wave of snow should add a few more inches so by Thursday morning total accumulations will be around 4-6 inches for the northern half of Colorado and the northern San Juans, with just light amounts in the southern San Juans.

colorado ski snow forecast

Source: OpenSnow.com map via NWS

Thursday morning will be dry with a few lingering clouds, then most areas should see full sunshine for the rest of Thursday. The weather will be dry, sunny, and tranquil from Thursday night through next Wednesday with increasing temperatures through the week. The only exception to this tranquil weather will be a few clouds and increased winds for the mountains north of I-70 on Thursday night (10/2) as a weak storm passes by to our northeast.

The next chance for precipitation will be around Friday October 10th, but this potential storm doesn't look like a big deal. There are hints of a potentially stronger storm close to the middle of the month, but 15 day forecasts are pretty unreliable, so we'll have to wait a week or so to see what transpires.

JOEL GRATZ

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Tuesday September 30th 2014 7:13am

Summary:

Mostly cloudy with snow showers continuing on Tuesday for the northern half of Colorado. A stronger storm will drop 3-6 inches of snow across northern and central Colorado on Wednesday afternoon, then Thursday through early next week will be dry.

Details:

Monday was a great day across Colorado with moderate to heavy precipitation falling during the afternoon and evening. Most mountains above 10,000 feet saw accumulating snow, with totals around 3-6 inches above about 11,000ft. During the heavier showers, the snow level dropped to around 8,000ft in spots, like near Wolf Creek Pass. This temporary drop in the snow level can happen as heavy precipitation pulls down down colder air from higher up in the atmosphere.

Below is a picture of Wolf Creek Pass during the heaviest snow on Monday afternoon. A reader commented that the pass received about 8 inches of snow. Nearby SNOTEL sites showed about 0.6 inches of snow water equivalent, so 6-8 inches seems legitimate.

wolf creek snow

Look at that snow on Wolf Creek Pass. Has me dreaming of winter powder! Source: OpenSnow.com via CDOT

The storm that brought the snow (and heavy rain and hail east of the mountains) is now in the upper midwest, but fear not because more action is in store for the next two days.

On Tuesday look for a mostly cloud day from Aspen north to I-70 and Steamboat with another wave of precipitation moving through during the late afternoon and evening. The mountains above 10,000 could see another few inches of snow from any heavier showers that move overhead. Areas south of Aspen will see a mix of sun and clouds.

On Wednesday a more potent storm will push through during the midday and afternoon hours. Most mountains from Aspen north to Wyoming will see about 3-6 inches of snow, with perhaps a bit more for some lucky areas. If we can keep snow showers around during Wednesday night after the sun goes down, flakes might fall down to 8,000ft or so. This storm will mostly target the northern 2/3rds of Colorado, so the San Juans will see some snow but not as much as areas further north.

colorado ski snow forecast

Snow forecast for Wednesday afternoon and evening. Don't look too closely at the bullseye of colors and focus instead on the general amounts showing 3-6 inches for most areas. Source: CAIC

Thursday will start off chilly with lingering morning clouds across northern Colorado, then the sun will shine brilliantly through the rest of the day.

Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday all look sunny and dry with warming temperatures. Some snow may stay on the peaks, but the rest of the snow will melt through the end of the week and weekend. Get out and enjoy the late autumn beauty!

I don't see a strong signal about when the next storm will move in, though the models are hinting at some cooler weather with a chance of precipitation sometime around the 10th-15th of October.

JOEL GRATZ

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Monday September 29th 2014 9:03am

Summary:

A few inches of snow will fall for most mountains Monday afternoon and Monday night above about 10,000ft. Tuesday will be cloudy with high-elevation snow showers for the northern half of Colorado, then another storm will bring 2-4 inches of snow to many mountains on Wednesday afternoon and Wednesday evening. Thursday through the weekend will be dry and sunny.

Details:

Rain and snow (above 12,000ft) moved across Colorado on Sunday with the heaviest rain (0.50-1.00 inches) falling on the western slope.

On Sunday night, another batch of showers moved across the state and with the temperatures being cooler by a few degrees, snow fell down to about 11,000ft. Here is the view to the east from the top of Copper Mountain on Monday morning. Nice to see some white on the peaks of the 10 Mile range!

copper mountain snow

Source: Webcam on OpenSnow.com via Copper Mountain

After a dry morning on Monday, another round of showers will move through Colorado on Monday afternoon and Monday night. This batch of showers is currently over southern Utah. 

colorado radar

Radar at 8am Monday. Source: Weathertap.com

Similar to Sunday, look for snow levels around 12,000ft during the day, then they will fall to about 10,000ft on Monday night into Tuesday morning. Most mountains will pick up a few inches of snow at the higher elevations, and the passes above 10,000ft could be snowy by Tuesday morning.

Tuesday will continue the trend for clouds and showers for the mountains from Crested Butte north to I-70 and Steamboat. While there could be showers at any time during the day, it appears that a stronger wave will move through on Tuesday evening bringing another inch or two of snow.

Wednesday morning might dawn dry, then one last wave of energy will move through Colorado on Wednesday afternoon and Wednesday night. This will be the coldest wave and should drop snow levels to 8,000-9,000 for central and northern Colorado. From mid-mountain to the summit of many ski areas across central and northern Colorado there will likely be 2-4 inches of snow during this time as total precipitation should be about 0.2-0.4 inches (convert at about a 10-to-1 liquid-to-snow ratio).

colorado snow forecast Wednesday

Forecast from the American GFS model for Wednesday night. Source: Weatherbell.com

If this week occured during the winter, I'd say Tuesday morning and Wednesday last run / Thursday first run would be great times to ski. However, this week it's Thursday morning that will be a great time to take photos as the mountains turn white with some Aspen leaves remaining at mid slope and clear skies overhead.

Starting on Thursday and continuing through the weekend we'll see dry and sunny skies with comfortable temperatures in the 60s for many mountain areas during the day. It'll be another glorious weekend to enjoy Colorado's fantastic scenery while doing nearly any sport you can think of (except for skiing, of course:-).

The next shot at cooler air and precipitation will likely come sometime between Thursday October 9th and Sunday October 12th.

JOEL GRATZ

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Sunday September 28th 2014 7:29am

Summary:

Rain and snow above 11,000-12,000ft will move across Colorado on Sunday, then another round of showers will hit on Monday. Tuesday will be cloudy with some lingering showers over the northern half of the state, then a cooler storm will bring snow to areas above 8,000-9,000ft on Wednesday afternoon and Wednesday night. Thursday through next weekend will then be dry and sunny.

Details:

On Saturday storms kicked up over the western Colorado mountains starting in the early afternoon and there were some heavier downpours. The heaviest rain was further west over Utah, and this will be what's in store for Colorado on Sunday.

The center of the storm is swirling over Nevada on Sunday morning and it is in no hurry to move anywhere. This is typical of storms that are cut off from the main west-to-east flow of weather.

colorado weather satellite

Sunday morning water vapor satellite image. Source: Weathertap.com

As the storm sits over the Great Basin and sloooooowly moves east, two waves of energy will create showers and storms over Colorado.

The first wave of energy moved through Utah on Saturday and Saturday night (I am in Moab, UT, and it rained most of Saturday night, sometimes heavily). This wave is currently over western Colorado on Sunday morning, where a steady rain is falling over the western slope and over the San Juan mountains.

colorado weather radar

Sunday morning radar image showing heavy rain over western Colorado. Source: Weathertap.com

The rain on Sunday morning is currently west of most of the ski areas, however the San Juan mountains (Silverton, Telluride, Durango, Wolf Creek) are seeing snow over about 11,500ft to 12,000ft.

colorado weather radar

Western Colorado radar as of Sunday morning. The precipitation is falling as snow above about 12,000ft. Source: Weathertap.com

Here's how the rest of the storm will play out:

  • On Sunday, the rain over western Colorado will move east across the state through the day. Most mountains will see rain and snow above 12,000ft by the afternoon.
  • On Monday, another wave of rain and snow will move across the state. Snow levels will likely drop down to 10,000 ft, and there could be severe storms over the eastern plains. The atmosphere will be agitated and will let us know!

  • From Monday night through Tuesday night, a moist flow from the west will keep clouds pressed against the central and northern mountains with continuing rain showers and snow over about 9,500ft. If this were winter, Tuesday would be a potential powder day for Steamboat, the higher elevations of Summit County, and perhaps Aspen as well.

  • From Wednesday midday through Thursday morning, a colder storm will swing through Colorado from the northwest with another round of rain and snow. It should be cold enough for accumulating snow down to perhaps 9,000ft, with flakes potentially falling down to 8,000ft from Aspen north to I-70 and Steamboat. Still a little uncertain on how cold the air will be, but the take away is that by Thursday most mountains will have a fresh coat of a few inches of snow.

 

Following the storm, Thursday will be dry and sunnier with snow melting on the mid slopes. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday will be lovely fall days with snow on the peaks, still some golden Aspen leaves left along mid slope, and average temperatures for fall. A glorious weekend:-)

The next chance of a storm will be sometime mid to late the following week, between Wednesday October 8th and Sunday October 12th.

JOEL GRATZ

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Saturday September 27th 2014 7:49am

Summary:

It'll be dry and sunny on Saturday morning, then look for rain and high elevation snow showers from Saturday afternoon through Wednesday night. Next Thursday through Sunday (10/5) should return to dry and sunny weather.

Details:

Friday started dry and stayed that way for most areas, though a cluster of storms did pop up over the central mountains and San Juans late in the day.

Now on Saturday morning, the day will start out dry and sunny but clouds will build during the afternoon with showers over most mountains starting around 2pm and continuing through the evening.

A heavy batch of rain will then move through western Colorado late Saturday night through Sunday afternoon. This slug of rain is currently over Utah and will slowly move east during the next 24 hours.

colorado weather forecast

Radar at 7am on Saturday morning. Source: Weathertap.com

As the heavier rain moves across Colorado on Sunday, expect snow to fall above about 11,000ft, so the highest peaks will see accumulating snow.

Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday will all be fall-like days with cooler air, some clouds, and rain and snow showers. This weather will mostly be confined to the central and northern mountains, but parts of the San Juans will see action as well.

Snow showers could fall over 10,000ft at any time on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, though the best chance for accumulating snow will occur on Wednesday as temperatures cool with a secondary storm dropping down from the northwest. This second storm won't be quite as strong as some of the models thought, so you can get excited for some snow but I don't think accumulations will be more than a few inches for most areas of the central and northern mountains (roughly north of Aspen).

All of the cool and stormy weather will exit stage left on Wednesday night leaving sunny and dry weather for Thursday, Friday, and next weekend. It looks like we'll be back to the warm autumn weather we've seen lately, so you'll get at least one more weekend to enjoy non-winter sports in the mountains. Man, I'm ready for the snow to come, but I guess crystal clear blue skies, snow-capped peaks, and golden leaves will have to do for now:-)

JOEL GRATZ

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