Snow will begin to fall on Thursday then heavier and steadier snow should fall on Thursday night into Friday morning. Most mountains should see at least 3-6 inches, and some locations will report 10+ inches by Friday morning. If you’re looking for fresh snow, plan to ski on Friday morning. After this system, Friday night and most of Saturday will be dry, then snow will return on Saturday night and Sunday, with two additional storms next week.
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Short Term Forecast
I will be in the Aspen backcountry on a hut trip from Thursday morning through Sunday afternoon and Sam Collentine will take over my forecasting duties during this time. I’ll see you again on Monday morning.
March has been dry, with only 20-50% of average snowpack accumulating during the month.
Thankfully, we have reached the end of our dry weather pattern, and storms are now lined up every few days.
On Thursday morning, our Storm #1 is spinning over western Utah.
While most of the precipitation is over Utah and Arizona, some showers are already making it into Colorado. Here is the radar from Thursday morning.
That little streak over Aspen dropped a quick coating to an inch, and it’s nice to see some places in Colorado reporting fresh snow this morning!
As I’ve been talking about for days, there is still a lot of uncertainty regarding the details of the storm on Thursday into Friday. All models agree about the general track of the storm as it will cross the mountains of Colorado and will then slow and strengthen over the southeastern plains. However, all models disagree about the exact snowfall amounts.
Here is the National Weather Service forecast for snow between Thursday morning and Friday midday. The highest amounts are in the north-eastern mountains close to the divide.
Below is the American GFS model forecast for snow.
Below is the American WRF 3km model forecast for snow.
And finally, here is the University of Utah ensemble forecast for Loveland, showing a range of 3-9 inches (lower-left).
There is a LOT of variability between the models. In situations like this, I like to focus on the wind direction. In this case, we’ll have showery snow (hit-and-miss) on Thursday with a wind direction from the southwest, then likely steadier snow on Thursday evening and Thursday night with a wind direction from the north and northwest.
A wind direction from the north can be very good for Powderhorn, the north side of the San Juans (Ouray), and Winter Park.
A wind direction from the northwest can be good for Telluride, Silverton, and also Aspen and the I-70 corridor from Vail east to Loveland and the divide.
Throwing all of this together, your best chance for powder will be on Friday morning. Most mountains will receive at least 3-6 inches as there is enough energy and moisture to create at least this much snow. Some mountains will receive 6-12+ inches if they get a favorable wind direction (see above) or if the storm tracks a bit further west (this would benefit the divide at places like Winter Park, Berthoud Pass, and perhaps Loveland and Abasin).
The only downside to this storm is the temperature, which will start warm, and then drop on Thursday night so that the snow level moves down to about 6,500 - 7,000 feet by Friday morning.
Note that this storm will likely produce heavy snow at the higher-elevation areas south of Denver and north of Colorado Springs, so driving I-25 between these cities will be difficult or impossible on Friday morning.
We should see clouds dissipate and the sun return by Friday afternoon, and then expect dry weather on Friday night through at least early afternoon on Saturday.
Storm #2 will then arrive late Saturday afternoon or Saturday night with snow continuing through Sunday. This storm will be weaker than Storm #1 on Thursday and Friday, though it should be able to produce at least 2-4-ish inches for most areas.
We may then see a break on Monday, with Storm #3 on Tuesday into Wednesday, and then Storm #4 later in the week between about Thursday and Sunday (April 2nd).
Both Storm #3 and Storm #4 may take a more southern track, which could favor the southern mountains, eastern mountains, and also the mountains in New Mexico (if you’re looking to chase).
Again, the only unfortunate part about Storms #2, #3, and #4 is that temperatures will be on the warmer side, so the quality of the powder will likely be average to a little thick, and not light, blower pow.
Thanks for reading and enjoy Thursday night’s storm!
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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