Following 4-10 inches of snow on Thursday, we will see dry weather and sunshine for two days on Friday and Saturday. Then the final storm in the series will bring snow and very cold air from Saturday night through Sunday night with 6+ inches near and east of the divide. Next week will be warmer and drier, though a few showers will return late in the week.
Short Term Forecast
Let’s start with how much snow fell on Thursday.
Ski areas are not officially reporting snow, so the numbers below are from the snow stake webcams and backcountry weather stations called SNOTEL.
* Wolf Creek – 10” (SNOTEL)
* Snowmass – 10” (snow stake)
* Grand Mesa / Powderhorn – 10” (SNOTEL)
* Sunlight – 9” (snow stake)
* Beaver Creek – 7” (snow stake)
* Vail – 7” (snow stake)
* Aspen Mountain – 6” (automated measurement)
* Winter Park – 6” (snow stake)
* Loveland – 4” (snow stake)
* Purgatory – 4” (snow stake)
The mountains at the top of the list were all areas under the intense band of snow that we talked about in the forecast the day before the storm. Wolf Creek was not under that intense band, but a southwest wind is golden for Wolf Creek and they snuck out another double-digit total.
Wolf Creek is opening for lift-serviced skiing this Saturday and Sunday (October 13-14) and will reopen on weekends. Before Thursday’s snowfall, Wolf reported a 20-inch storm total, so now they are right around 30 inches for the week.
One of the other winners on Thursday was the Aspen area. The clouds briefly cleared during the early afternoon to reveal this scene, with Buttermilk in the foreground and Aspen Highlands in the background.
And the snow stake camera Snowmass proved the double-digit tally.
The last picture that I'll share today was sent in by a reader on Wednesday, before the latest snowfall. This is from Berthoud Pass, near Winter Park. This area added another 6 inches after this picture was taken.
To the forecast…
Friday will be dry and mostly sunny with high temperatures in the 40s. I haven’t written a forecast like that for a while!
Friday morning's radar animation shows no showers over Colorado.
Friday morning's infrared satellite image shows high clouds (blue colors) over the southern mountains with low clouds (grey colors) over the northern and central mountains. The low clouds should dissipate by mid-morning on Friday.
Saturday will also be dry and mostly sunny with high temperatures in the 40s. Two days of mid-October sunshine and warmer temperatures should melt a lot of the snow on the lower slopes and on south-facing slopes.
Saturday night and Sunday is when the next storm will bring snow and the coldest air of the season.
Temperatures will be very cold with snow falling down to the elevation of all mountain towns, and even down to the cities in the Denver metro area.
The best chance for the deepest snow totals will be near and east of the divide where we could see 4-8+ inches of fluffy, cold pow. The area from just west of Denver north to Wyoming will be favored, and also the area west of Pueblo in the southeast mountains will be favored.
Other mountains could see 1-3 inches, but a wind direction from the north and east will not be favorable for lots of snow at most areas west of the divide. An exception might be around Wolf Creek which could get lucky with more than 3 inches, though much of the snow for them could fall on Sunday afternoon and evening which would be the last few hours of lift-serviced skiing or after the lifts close for the weekend.
The wildcard in the forecast will be the jet stream, which will help to produce a narrow band of intense snow, and wherever this sets up could get more snow than forecast.
To the maps!
The snow forecast from an average of 51 versions of the European model highlights the area east of the divide being favored. Snow totals are usually higher than this model because the model is low-resolution and doesn’t accurately depict the mountainous terrain.
The latest single run of the European model also favors east of the divide.
The American GFS model favors east of the divide, with higher totals than the European.
And the high-resolution CAIC WRF model is in line with the American GFS, with 5-8+ inches east of the divide, 2-4 inches west of the divide, and sneaky high totals of 6+ inches Wolf Creek (though again much of this could fall after lifts close on Sunday).
A final word about the Saturday night and Sunday storm – New Mexico mountains should do very well with 4-8+ inches at Red River, Taos, Santa Fe, and Angel Fire. It’s great to see this early-season snow hitting these areas after they experienced a tough season (low snow) last year.
Monday morning will be cold but clear.
Most of the rest of next week will be dry for most of Colorado with a slow warming trend. A stalled storm to the southwest of Colorado could push showers into the southern mountains during the middle and end of the week, but right now it looks like snow accumulations would only be at the higher elevations and would be light.
The next threat of a significant storm could be about two weeks away, sometime between the final five days of October and the first five days of November.
Thanks for reading … next update on Saturday, October 12.
PS - I updated info for a few of my upcoming talks. See below and hope to see you in person soon!
My upcoming presentations about the winter forecast and tips for chasing pow!
* October 18 in Colorado Springs at Ute & Yeti starting at 630pm. Beer & food available for purchase. Free to attend! Details here.
* October 25 in Golden at Powder7 ski shop starting at 630pm. Free to attend!
* November 1 in Boulder at Neptune Mountaineering starting at 600pm. Free to attend! There will be happy hour, my talk, the short film “Abandoned” about lost ski areas, and a raffle with REALLY good prizes. Details here.
* Early November in Summit County
* November 28 in Vail
* December 5 in Denver
We have an iPhone app that provides detailed weather forecasts for your hiking, biking, and climbing adventures. OpenSummit now includes forecasts for 1,000 of the highest and/or notable summits and hiking areas across the United States. Download OpenSummit (iPhone only)
Steamboat, Granby, Beaver Creek, Vail, Ski Cooper, Copper, Breckenridge, Keystone, Loveland, Abasin, Winter Park, Berthoud Pass, Eldora, Rocky Mountain National Park, Cameron Pass
Along the Divide
Loveland, Arapahoe Basin, Winter Park, Berthoud Pass
East of the Divide
Eldora, Echo, Rocky Mountain National Park, Cameron Pass
Aspen, Sunlight, Monarch, Crested Butte, Irwin, Powderhorn
Telluride, Silverton – north side of the southern mountains | Purgatory, Wolf Creek – south side of the southern mountains
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