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The Colorado Daily Snow

Snow & Powder Forecasts for Colorado

All aboard the pow train

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Summary

It’s a powder day on Wednesday morning with most central and northern mountains reporting between 5-10 inches of snow. Wednesday and Thursday should be mostly dry (and cold!) and then we will likely see snow every day from Thursday night through the following weekend (Dec 18th) with multiple powder days and snow accumulations of a couple FEET. Seriously. This could get very, very fun:-)

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Short Term Forecast

After a dry start to the day on Tuesday, snow fell heavily from late Tuesday afternoon through the early morning hours on Wednesday. This storm was compact and the timing and snow amounts were well forecast by most models. We talked about most of the central and northern mountains receiving 4-8 inches on Tuesday night leading to a powder day on Wednesday. And thankfully, that’s what happened!

This storm was compact and the timing and snow amounts were well forecast by most models. We talked about most of the central and northern mountains receiving 4-8 inches on Tuesday night leading to a powder day on Wednesday. And thankfully, that’s what happened!

Below are the highest snow totals I found on Wednesday morning, which were in the central and northern mountains. Most of this snow fell after the lifts closed on Tuesday afternoon.

Steamboat - 9.5”

Aspen Mountain - 8”

Aspen Highlands - 8”

Snowmass - 8”

Eldora - 8”

Beaver Creek - 7”

Vail - 7”

Monarch - 6”

Breckenridge - 6”

Winter Park - 5”

Keystone - 5”

Crested Butte - 5”

Abasin - 5”

Southern Mountains - 2-3”

You can view all of the snow reports for Colorado here: http://opensnow.com/state/CO/reports

On each mountain’s page, we show every webcam for each ski area in Colorado, including the snow-stake cameras. Here are the two deepest snow stakes on Wednesday morning:

Wednesday morning is a powder day for most areas. Dress warmly as the temperature will generally stay in the single digits for most of the day. Some sun will shine and there will also be a few flurries and clouds lingering behind the storm.

Thursday should be dry and sunny for most of the day with high temperatures climbing into the teens.

From Thursday night through Sunday a feed of moisture from the Pacific should bring snow to Colorado each day. Snow will favor the central and northern mountains and should also fall in the southern mountains.

Since this will be a nearly continuous feed of moisture, I am having a difficult time isolating which days or nights might bring the most snow.

The only call I can make now about the timing of the next powder day is that there will be fresh snow on Friday, likely deeper snow on Saturday in the central mountains, and fluffier powder on Sunday morning in the central and northern mountains.

Conditions should get better and deeper each day, starting on Friday morning and continuing through Sunday, so heck - instead of trying to time the deepest snow, just plan to ski as many days as you can from Friday through the weekend:-)

This moisture from the Pacific Ocean will bring the possibility of deep snow (moisture is the fuel for snow, so more moisture = more potential snow). This Pacific moisture will also bring warmer air on Friday into Saturday, so the powder could be a bit thicker until cooler air arrives on Saturday night into Sunday.

If I had to pick right now, I’d say that Sunday would be the best quality powder day because we’ll have a base of somewhat thicker snow from Friday and Saturday and then fluffier snow from later Saturday through Sunday.

The deepest snow totals will likely be in the central and northern mountains. Perhaps 8-16 inches, likely more in spots. Each group of mountains will be favored at different times through the weekend, depending on the wind direction.

A wind from the west and west-southwest on Friday and Saturday should favor the central mountains (Irwin, Sunlight, Aspen/Snowmass, Crested Butte, Monarch, maybe Telluride if the storm drops far enough south).

Also, I’ve seen this setup before (big Pacific moisture with a west or west-southwest wind), and sometimes it can bring higher-than-expected snow totals to the higher mountains of Summit County like Abasin, Loveland, Keystone, Breckenridge, and Copper.

And, Steamboat can get in on the action with a west-southwest or west wind as well, especially since the cold air in the Yampa Valley can hang around and act like a wedge to lift the incoming warmer and moist air (this lift creates snowfall).

Later in the weekend, from Saturday afternoon through Sunday, the wind direction should transition to blow from the west-northwest and northwest, and this should favor most mountains near and north of I-70.

Tuesday night’s storm (Dec 6) was a relatively easy forecast since it was a compact storm. The forecast from Thursday night through the weekend is NOT easy because this is NOT a compact storm and is rather a near continuous push of moisture with small waves of energy moving quickly through the flow. Expect changes to the forecast and some surprises!

And the snow will not end on Sunday. Oh no. Read on…

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Extended Forecast

The flow of moisture from the Pacific will continue for most of next week and next weekend, through about Sunday, December 18th.

It might not snow every second of every day between now and the 18th, but it might. It’s going to be a great storm cycle for base building and opening more terrain.

From the University of Utah, I’ll leave you with these forecasts showing snowfall only through the 14th. More snow will fall beyond this time.

The mountains just north of Steamboat. Four FEET or more? Very possible at the Tower SNOTEL on Buffalo Pass. Steamboat resort likely won’t get this much, but their totals should be impressive.

The I-70 and central mountains will see impressive totals. Maybe 1-2 FEET through the middle of next week.

This entire 10-day storm cycle, from Dec 8 through Dec 18th, could drop a massive amount of precipitation, perhaps 1-5 inches of liquid equivalent. This is a 10-day forecast so don’t focus on the details, just the general idea.

Translate that to snow and we’re talking 10-50 inches.

By the time we get to Sunday, December 18th, it is possible that the southern mountains will get 1-2 feet of snow and the central and northern mountains could get 2-4 feet of snow. Sometimes it won’t snow, sometimes it will snow heavily, and sometimes you’ll only see snow reports of a couple of inches. But when you add up a few inches per day and night over 10 days, amounts should be impressive!

Try to ski as many days as you can between now and the 18th as conditions will continue to improve and the slopes will have fewer people before the holiday rush!

Thanks for reading!

JOEL GRATZ

Announcements

1) I am giving a talk in Frisco on Saturday, December 10th at 6pm. The entire Kickoff Event at Elevate Co-Space lasts from 4-8pm and will host many companies with other speakers. Full details: https://www.facebook.com/events/1620297181605207/

2) Contest – Prepare for the upcoming season with the Gear Up For Winter Sweepstakes presented by Liftopia! Prizes include new DPS skis, limited edition SPY goggles, Yakima cargo box, and $1,500 worth of gift cards from Liftopia, EVO, and The Feed. Enter to Win: http://opsw.co/2gdRiuy

3) We are writing Daily Snow posts specific to Steamboat (http://opensnow.com/dailysnow/steamboat), Copper (http://opensnow.com/dailysnow/copper), Vail (http://opensnow.com/dailysnow/vail), and Breckenridge (http://opensnow.com/dailysnow/breckenridge).

 

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 – north side of the southern mountains
Purgatory, Wolf Creek – south side of the southern mountains

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