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The Colorado Daily Snow

Snow & Powder Forecasts for Colorado

Optics and looking ahead to our next powder days

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Summary

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday should be dry days with more sun each day. Then the first stormy period will bring snow from Thursday night through Sunday morning with the highest amounts in the southern mountains. The next stormy period will occur from Monday afternoon through Wednesday afternoon and could drop significant snow on all mountains. After that, we could experience dry weather for the last few days of January.

Quick word from the Vilar Performing Arts Center

Brett Dennen LIVE! The VPAC in Beaver Creek Village is hosting singer-songwriter Brett Dennen on Friday, January 20th. If you haven’t checked out this unique venue, this show will be phenomenal. Tickets are only $38. Check out their full winter lineup: http://opsw.co/2jridVj

Short Term Forecast

Before getting to the forecast, let’s look at some atmospheric eye candy.

In yesterday’s post, I linked to a time-lapse of low clouds at Steamboat from Sunday, January 15th (https://www.youtube.com/embed/FjOK8-72pcg).

Today I have some images of low clouds at Vail. First, here is a view looking south from the summit of Blue Sky Basin with low clouds illuminated by the moon. Cool!

Also, I received the picture below from a reader (Jeff L.) showing a teardrop shape. This is called a “Lower Tangent Arc” and can be seen below the sun (see the schematic on the right). The arc changes shape depending on how far the sun is above the horizon. For more information and to see how the tear drop changes shape, click here: http://opsw.co/2iCZxB1

Ok, to the forecast…

The storm that brought snow to Colorado from Thursday through Monday night has finally exited stage right. Total amounts range from 3-6 inches in the northern and central mountains to over one foot in the southern mountains.

Behind this storm, lingering moisture will keep some low clouds around on Tuesday, though the atmosphere should become drier through the day, and I think most areas will see plenty of sun by on Wednesday and Thursday as we round out a 3-day stretch of dry weather. It has been a while since we’ve seen the sun for this long!

The next surge of moisture and snow should arrive on Thursday night. During this time, all mountains should receive some snow, though the winds from the south and southwest should favor the southern mountains, the Grand Mesa, and the Elk Mountains.

After snow starts on Thursday night, it could continue through Sunday morning as two storms track to the south of Colorado. From Thursday night through Saturday afternoon, the track of the storms and wind direction from the southwest should favor the southern mountains. The best powder at Purgatory, Wolf Creek, and Silverton could be on Saturday. Then the wind direction should switch to blow from the west and northwest on Saturday night and Sunday morning, so the best powder on Sunday could be at Telluride, the central, and northern mountains.

The ensemble forecast from the University of Utah shows 20 model forecasts for snow through Sunday. There is reasonable confidence (lines close together) that the southern mountains could receive 1-2 feet of snow.

There is lower confidence for the central mountains (lines further apart) where 6-12 inches is the most likely forecast.

There is even lower confidence for the northern mountains with amounts ranging from 2-10 inches.

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Extended Forecast

There will be a break in the snow on Sunday afternoon and Sunday night, then the next chance for snow should start on Monday or Monday evening and continue through Wednesday night.

This second storm could hit Colorado more directly (versus the previous storm that will largely stay to the south). A more direct track over Colorado could mean that snow amounts will fall more equally across all mountains. I think Tuesday (Jan 24) could be a storm-skiing day with the deepest, softest powder on Wednesday morning (Jan 25). Snow could hang around the northern mountains through Thursday. This is still 7-8 days away, so stay tuned for updates.

Between now and Wednesday the 25th, most of the western US and Canada will receive 1-2 feet of snow from multiple storms. Good news!

Looking far ahead, I think the final 3-5 days of January will be dry, so live it up during the next two storm cycles!

JOEL GRATZ

Announcements

I am a fan of fun in the mountains AND learning about the mountain environment. Please take a moment to consider making a donation to get these kids up to the Keystone Science School for 3 days of fun and learning in March. I am thrilled that OpenSnow contributed $100 toward their tuition and transportation. Their teacher, Robert Cooper, emailed me and asked for a shout out because “I often give some press to great companies doing great things, and these are great kids doing great things.” Sounds great to me! More info here: https://www.gofundme.com/keystone-science-school-experience

 

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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