The Colorado Daily Snow

Snow & Powder Forecasts for Colorado

I'm outta here for 10 days, but the precipitation will stick around

Summary

  • Snow will end by mid morning on Friday
  • Looks like most mountains picked up 2-5 inches over 11,000 feet
  • Showers continue Saturday, Sunday, Monday
  • Slight drying trend Tuesday through early June
  • Temperatures warm up later next week
  • This is my last post until June 2nd

 

Details

A wave of precipitation moved from south to north across the state on Thursday night, when a few inches of snow fell on most mountains. This rain and snow is still over northern Colorado as of early Friday morning. The webcam from the top of Loveland Pass shows that snow is in the air and also accumulating on the road surface at 11,990 feet. This storm has been a bit warmer than our previous storms, so snow is only falling down to about 10,000 feet, with the best accumulations occurring over 11,000 feet.


Source: CDOT webcam

 

The radar animation shows showers and steady precipitation drifting across the northern Colorado mountains and plains. Look closely at eastern Colorado where you can see a slight counter-clockwise rotation in the precipitation shield. This rotation shows the vorticity maximum, or in general, the center of the storm.


Source: weathertap.com

 

Due to our consistent storms from late April through late now in late May, the snowpack in many regions of Colorado is above average for this date. Normally by May 22nd, our snowpack is in a steady decline. But many areas have held steady during the last few weeks, which is why we are well above average. 

The snow that is falling on Friday morning will eventually let up, and then the rest of the day will be typical with cumulus clouds building into afternoon showers. 

Some of these Friday afternoon showers could linger through Friday night as yet another storm approaches Colorado from the southwest.

On Saturday, I think a lot of the state will see dry conditions in the morning as we'll be just ahead of the next storm. Most models are showing a tongue of dry air for the morning, at least at the lower levels of the atmosphere, so we may be able to squeak out a nice start to the day. 

Then, starting around noon on Saturday, showers will increase over Colorado as the storm moves right over the state. Snow levels will likely get down to 8,000-9,000 feet, with the best accumulations over 10,000 feet.

On Saturday night into Sunday, precipitation will likely continue over many mountains. The storm will move into northeastern Colorado, and wrap-around moisture will keep snow and rain falling from the sky.

Monday will offer continued showery weather, though temperatures should increase by the afternoon, so snow levels will likely pop up to 11,000 - 12,000 feet.

If you're looking for a drier time period this weekend, perhaps look at either Saturday morning or Monday. I can't guarantee perfect weather during either of these times, just a better chance for drier weather.

Looking ahead to the week of May 26-29th, we will see a subtle shift in the weather pattern with warmer temperatures and less shower activity, but the weather will NOT be completely dry.

Here's a way to look at the slight change in the pattern that we'll see next week.

First, start with the weather pattern that we'll experience during the Memorial Day weekend. A storm from the southwest will be over Colorado, and it is a rather cold storm for this time of year with below-average temperatures (blue colors).


Source: weatherbell.com

 

Now look at the weather pattern (below) for the last few days of May. You can see a dip in the lines just to the southwest of Colorado, which shows continued troughiness (storminess) coming from the southwest. This will keep precipitation in the forecast. However, look at the colors. Temperatures will be warmer, and closer to average for this time of year.


Source: weatherbell.com

 

The punchline is that troughiness and moisture will continue to impact Colorado through the end of May, but temperatures will finally warm up, closer to average for this time of year. This should mean that many low and mid elevation trails will begin to melt and dry out, though the upper mountains will likely hold considerable snow well into June.

Before signing off, I wanted to leave you with some information about a new forecasting model that I may begin to use here on Opensnow. This isn't the standard American GFS model but the new G(F)FS model:

The G(F)FS = "The Gus (Fur) Forecasting System"

This model is produced by Gus. He's a dog, and his fur has accurately predicted the weather patterns this year.  Crazy thick fur started growing in early December, then there was a cold spell thru mid January. Then he started shedding like it was April but in mid January, and temperatures hit 50 degrees in Jan/Feb. He then grew back thick fur in mid March, but in a constant shed/regrow state. And sure enough, the weather constantly fluctuating daily between wet, dry, cool, and warm.  As of late April, Gus is in a slow shed process, but oddly still thick fur for this time of year. Gus' fur indicates wet weather will continue until late May, so don't expect flip flop weather until early June.

 

Of course this new G(F)FS model is pretty much a joke, written and conceived of by my friend Tamra in Steamboat back in late April. But it's been oddly accurate, so maybe Gus' fur model is not a joke but instead a much stronger weather predictor than that groundhog back on the east coast. I'll check in with Gus and Tamra early in the fall to see what the fur says about the early winter months.

Ok folks, it's May 22nd and I'm thrilled that the snowy weather has given me an excuse to keep writing well into the spring. But this will be my last post until June 2nd as I am heading to Ecuador with my family and will be offline during the trip. This will be a welcome break from the interwebs.

I cannot thank you enough for reading the Colorado Daily Snow and for helping Opensnow to keep growing year after year. I wrote my first snow forecast in December 2007 to an email list of 38 friends. At that point, it was a fun hobby as I was trying to help our crew figure out where and when to ski the best powder. Only in my dreams did I think that the initial email list would blossom into a sustainable, growing business that now supports a few full-time folks (me included) and a couple of other forecasters around the country. I hope that we can continue to grow Opensnow, which will allow us to fund the development of products and features that will make it easier to plan outdoor adventures (we'll be doing summer forecasting for hiking and biking starting in June, so check back soon).

Have a great 10 days, and I'll write my next update around June 2nd.

 

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)