Following the 2-5 inches that fell in the northern mountains on Tuesday morning, we'll see dry and warm weather through early next week. Then the atmosphere should push more storms into the western US starting around the middle of next week, and I am hopeful that this will translate into cooler weather and more snow here in Colorado as we head into early December.
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Short Term Forecast
I wasn't able to get out, but I heard that skiing was enjoyable on Tuesday morning in the northern mountains, thanks to the 2-5 inches of snow that fell late Monday night through mid-morning on Tuesday.
Looking back a bit further, the following pictures were sent to me this past Saturday after the storm dropped 6-12 inches of snow across Colorado.
Keystone (taken from a commercial aircraft):
Arapahoe Basin (taken from a commercial aircraft):
The current snowpack in Colorado ranges from 30-70% of average in the southern mountains to about 70-100% of average in the central and northern mountains. I know it feels like there hasn't been much snow this year, but the average snowpack for November 22nd is also pretty low. This data is based on ~30 years of historical measurements from backcountry SNOTEL stations.
Snowpack is one thing, and open, skiable terrain is another. There isn't a LOT of inbounds terrain that's open, but there is some and it's slowly expanding.
Mountains that are open
Mountains that are opening Wednesday
Mountains that are opening Thursday
The forecast for the rest of this week and this weekend is for warm and dry weather. A large area of high pressure is hanging over the mountain west, and this is pushing most storms well to our north and west. One storm will pass close by on Friday into Saturday, but current models show that we will not see any flakes here in Colorado. In terms of temperatures, they will be above average, with on-mountain highs in the 40s with lows hopefully just low enough to make snow at night.
I have been talking for days about potential snow around November 29th (next Wednesday). Whatever happens from that potential storm (a few flakes, a decent bit of snow, etc), it looks like it might be the first storm of a somewhat new weather pattern. We don't need a massive shift in the weather pattern to get snow. Instead, we just need a slight shift and for storms that are hanging a bit to our north to head south toward Colorado.
Some of the longer-range models suggest that this slight shift will occur as we head into early December. I am hopeful, but also realistic that pattern shifts can take a bit longer to materialize than the models expect.
This model below, the CFSv2, is not known as being terribly accurate, so take the following map with some skepticism. For the month of December, this model shows that the area of above-average precipitation (green color) will extend from the northwest into the central Rockies around Utah and edge into Colorado.
This forecast gives me some hope that the model is forecast a slight change in the pattern over the next few weeks. Also, this forecast for December is created from 6 days of 4 model runs averaged together, so this isn't just me cherrypicking one model run to make us feel good.
There is some cause for optimism in the longer-range, but like a lot of folks say about weather forecasts, I'll believe it when I see it.
In the meantime, don't forget that the Friends of CAIC are hosting the 10th Annual CAIC Benefit Bash in Breckenridge next Saturday, December 2nd. This is a fundraiser to support the Colorado Avalanche Information Center in their mission of avalanche forecasting and education in Colorado. It’s the party of the season (seriously, it's awesome)! Maybe if more people buy tickets, the snow will come:-) More details here: https://adecadedeep.eventbrite.com
Thanks for reading!
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, 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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