We are about one day into our storm cycle which started on Wednesday evening and will continue through Sunday afternoon. Most mountains have already received a few inches (or more!) and we’ll see additional storms on Friday night and again on Saturday night. Multiple days of consistent snow usually leads to the best conditions, so get out there and take advantage of this cycle! Dry weather will likely return early next week, then we’ll have a chance for a storm during the middle or end of next week, with a semi-active pattern continuing through early-to-mid March.
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Short Term Forecast
Snow began to fall on Wednesday night and accumulated through Thursday before taking a break on Thursday night (a few mountains continued to show light snow on Thursday night). This first storm of the series brought winds from the southwest, which is generally best for the southern mountains, but there were some outliers and surprises.
Below is the storm total from Wednesday night through Friday morning at 500 am.
Winter Park - 6” (snow stake camera)
Beaver Creek - 4”
Steamboat - 4”
Vail - 3”
Copper - 2”
Keystone - 2”
Powderhorn - 11”
Sunlight - 5”
Snowmass - 2”
Wolf Creek - 33”
Silverton - 11”
Purgatory - 10”
Hesperus - 8” (estimate)
Telluride - 3”
In the northern mountains, no big surprises. Most of the snow came as hit-or-miss showers with all mountains getting at least a dusting to an inch, and the ones I listed above have the highest totals.
In the central mountains, the 2-5 inches from Snowmass to Sunlight makes sense as they can do ok/well on flow from the southwest or west-southwest. The 11 inches at Powderhorn was surprising and I am happy that they are doing well as they had a very tough season until a few weeks ago and that treed terrain is super fun to ski in pow. The 12 inches at Monarch is something I can’t explain – perhaps, like Monday night, it was a case of being in the right place at the right time to get under a band of more intense convective snow.
In the southern mountains, the snowfall pattern makes sense based on southwest winds, with Wolf Creek, Silverton, and Purgatory getting the most snow. Telluride should do better with the next two storms which will bring winds from the west and northwest.
Of course, the biggest outlier was Wolf Creek with 33 inches falling in about 24 hours, and my estimate is that about 27 inches fell in 12 hours on Wednesday night and Thursday morning. Whaaaat? Yes, the nearby SNOTEL station and webcams confirm the dumpage – this is NOT an erroneous report. Wolf always does well with a southwest wind and usually blows through the upper end of the forecast range. But this is an amazing amount of snow, and I think the reason that they received this much snow is that all factors were perfect, not just the wind direction. The moisture was plentiful and the temperature was in the low-to-mid-teens near the summit, which puts the temperature in the perfect range to produce big, perfect dendrite flakes. That’s the only way to get 2+ inches per hour. If anyone was at Wolf Creek on Thursday, please post your report and pictures/video in the comments. Thanks!
Thanks for bearing with my above analysis … I do this to help myself learn about past events in order to (hopefully) improve future forecasts, and I hope that this brings you a bit of additional knowledge as well!
Friday will bring snow showers. We are in between systems but there is enough moisture and lift in the atmosphere to create snowflakes. The best chance for snow will be in the southern mountains (southwest wind) and in the western mountains which will be the first areas to come under the influence of the next system (Steamboat, Powderhorn, Sunlight, Snowmass, Beaver Creek).
Friday evening through Saturday morning is when we’ll see the next storm with an average of 3-6 inches and perhaps up to 8-10 inches in luckier areas. This storm moved through Utah on Thursday night and dropped snowfall in this range (generally 3-6 inches with 13 inches at Snowbasin), and we’ll likely see similar amounts here in Colorado. As I mentioned, a few spots could report a surprisingly high number on Saturday morning, so keep your eye on snow stake cameras on Friday night to spot the outliers!
After a short break on Saturday morning through midday, the next and final storm will bring snow from Saturday afternoon through Sunday midday with an additional 2-5 inches. This storm will bring winds mostly from the west, which could favor Steamboat, Beaver Creek, the Aspen-area, and Telluride.
* The best powder will likely be on Saturday morning (all mountains) and Sunday morning (all mountains).
* A few inches of snow every 24-36 hours may not seem amazing but it can add up to super soft and fun conditions.
* The only downside about this storm cycle is that temperatures will be cold on Saturday and Sunday, perhaps just a bit too cold for the atmosphere to produce a lot of snow. It’s right on the borderline between needing cold temperatures for fluffy snow, and having temperatures that are too cold and getting smaller flakes and slower and denser snow.
Below is the high-resolution 4km CAIC WRF model showing the snow forecast from Friday through Sunday.
And below is the higher-resolution 2km CAIC WRF model showing the snow forecast from Friday through Sunday.
Enjoy the pow this weekend!!!
We will see dry weather from Sunday afternoon through about next Tuesday with the exception of possible snow showers in the very northern mountains on Sunday night and Monday.
Then, during the middle of next week, a piece of a storm over California will slowly move east and should bring snow to Colorado sometime between Tuesday night and Thursday. This storm might stay too far to the south to bring snow to all of Colorado, but it’s too early to know the details. Right now I’d say that the best chance for snow in Colorado during the middle of next week will be in the southern mountains.
After that, the main area of storminess should stick over the west coast as we head into early March, but all models show some of this storm energy ejecting east toward Colorado, so we should see additional chances for snow through at least the first to second week of March.
Thanks for reading!
Hut available for Sunday night!
There are 16 spots available at the McNamara Hut outside of Aspen for Sunday night, February 25th. This hut was reserved by a friend of mine but they can no longer use it. Should be good weather for the night with snow ending Sunday midday and powder laps on Sunday afternoon and Monday morning under clearing skies. If you are interested in taking some or all of these spots, email [email protected]
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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