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The Colorado Daily Snow

Snow & Powder Forecasts for Colorado
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Another Powder Day!

 

Summary

The southern mountains saw snow all day on Sunday, the snow continued Sunday night, and it will continue through the first half of Monday. In the central and northern mountains, the snow stopped during the day on Sunday but it started up again on Sunday night and will continue (off-and-on) during the day on Monday. All of this points to Monday being another good powder day, and Tuesday could be a deep day for areas east of the divide. Wednesday morning could offer surprise powder for some mountains, then Thursday should be dry. I think our next storm cycle will start on Sunday February 7th and continue for at least two or three days, favoring the northern mountains.

 

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Details

The good times will keep on rolling!

As a brief recap, almost every mountain in Colorado saw about 8-14 inches of snow fall on Saturday night through the first half of Sunday. It was a full-on powder day for most areas with good skiing and just a bit of crust remaining under the snow on south-facing slopes.

During the day on Sunday, the central and northern mountains saw the snow stop with a few breaks of sunshine while the heavy snow continued during the day in the southern mountains (where Wolf Creek picked up about 12 inches in roughly 9 hours).

On Sunday night, the snow continued to fall on the southern mountains, and areas of heavier snow pushed north through the central and northern mountains. I think most central and northern areas will measure 3-6 inches on Sunday night, while amounts will likely be closer to 6-10+ inches in the southern mountains. This means that Monday should be another good powder day for almost every mountain!

Remember that during multi-day snow storms, the ski quality usually gets better as time goes on, even if each 24-hour snow report isn’t deeper than the last. This is because the base is soft and powdery so any new snow that falls will ski delightfully.

One caveat to the assertion that the snow will continue to ski better and better is that the temperatures on Sunday night have been on a slow warming trend in the central and northern mountains. This could mean that Sunday night’s snow will be a bit heavier than we normally see, so the ski quality could be a bit iffy with the denser snow from Sunday night on top of the lighter snow from Sunday morning which is on top of denser snow that fell during the beginning of the storm on Saturday night. Yes, the snowpack is getting complicated! Mainly this means that if you’re in the backcountry, be mindful of this complexity. If you’re skiing inside the ropes, just go into the day with low expectations and be happily surprised if the snow is not denser and skis very well. Low (or reasonable) expectations can make for a really good day on the hill!

Now on early Monday morning, the western US infrared satellite image shows our storm swirling over Las Vegas. Ahead of the storm, you can see blobs of green colors moving from southwest to northeast. These green colors show higher (colder) cloud tops, and we can infer that heavier snow is falling in these areas.

Source: Weathertap.com

 

Looking at the radar over Colorado, we can see areas of heavier snow and areas of no snow, generally moving from the southwest to northeast across the state. Remember that there are gaps in the radar coverage due to the radar beam getting blocked by the taller mountains, so even though radar doesn’t show precipitation it still may be snowing.

Source: Weathertap.com

 

The splotchiness of the radar and satellite images indicates that we’ll see times of heavier snow followed by times of light or no snow from late Sunday night through Monday for the central and northern mountains. I put about 3-6 inches of snow in the forecast for each of these time periods and I still feel good about that even though it’s tough (or impossible) to forecast each period of heavier snow.

The snowfall on late Sunday night through Monday should be more consistent for areas east of the divide where winds from the east should keep the snow cranking during most of this time. Also, I think the snowfall will be rather consistent for the southern mountains through about noon on Monday, then it may taper off.

The next phase of the storm will kick in on Tuesday as winds swing around to blow from the north and north-northwest. This can favor Powderhorn, Telluride, Silverton, Ouray, and Irwin with heavier snow, so watch these areas on Tuesday and Wednesday morning. And, speaking of Wednesday morning, we might see a pop of snow for the northern mountains on Tuesday night into Wednesday morning as the winds go to more of a northwest direction, so keep this time in your mind as it will be the last chance to ski powder during from this storm.

We should see dry weather from later Wednesday afternoon through Saturday, but I can’t rule out light snow on Thursday night or Friday. I have low or zero confidence about this late-week snowfall as right now there is no consistency in the forecast models.

I do have higher confidence that we will see snow return for the northern mountains on Sunday February 7th and continue through at least Tuesday February 9th. This snow may also affect the central mountains, but with winds from the northwest and north, I would expect the best accumulations near and north of I-70. More on this storm in a few days after we get through the current storm cycle.

Have a great Monday, enjoy the snow, and look for my next update on Tuesday morning. If there are big changes to the forecast I will update on Monday night.

Thanks for reading, and yay for powder!!!

JOEL GRATZ

 

Geography Key

Northern Mountains
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, Abasin, Winter Park, Berthoud Pass

East of the Divide
Eldora, Rocky Mountain National Park, Cameron Pass

Central Mountains
Aspen, Sunlight, Monarch, Crested Butte, Irwin, Powderhorn

Southern Mountains
Telluride, Silverton, Durango, Wolf Creek (Telluride and Silverton are on the northern side of the southern mountains)


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