Colorado will experience dry weather through the end of next week, and then we could see our next storm around Valentine’s Day (February 14th). Another storm is possible later the following week, around Friday February 19th. I do not anticipate that either of these storms will be very strong, and we will likely need to wait until the end of the month to see a real pattern change toward colder and consistently stormy weather.
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On Friday morning, Steamboat added another 4 inches to it’s 4 inch report from 5am, so the turns must have been pretty good up there! Other northern and central mountains saw lingering clouds through late morning and midday with storm totals only in the 1-2 inch range. This is one to two inches lower than I hoped for, but we’ve been talking about Thursday night’s storm being a weak one, and that was true for most areas south of Steamboat.
From today, Saturday, through next Saturday, I expect most snow reports to show zero inches each day as a ridge of high pressure takes control of the weather over western North America. The mountains along and north of I-70 may see periods of flurries or snow showers (and strong winds!) from Saturday night through Tuesday morning as weak storms slide by to our northeast. I doubt we’ll see any accumulations for most mountains, though Steamboat and the divide areas may be able to generate an inch or two or three over this period.
Temperatures will stay around average through this weekend, then will begin a serious warm up next Tuesday and the warm weather should continue through next Saturday. This means that high temperatures on the hill could get into the 40s for many areas, and this warmth should result in a melt-freeze crust forming on south-facing slopes, and perhaps some thicker/heavier snow on all aspects.
When will the ridge of high pressure move away? Most models are projecting that it will continue through about February 20th, though the often-more accurate European model starts to break it down around the 14th. After watching for years as weather models incorrectly forecast pattern changes too soon, I now tend to side toward the later solutions, which would keep the ridge around through the third week of February.
Does this mean we will not see any snow for the next 2-3 weeks? Unlikely. We should see at least a few weak systems slide into Colorado, with the first one around Sunday, February 14th, and perhaps another around Friday, February 19th.
That said, I do not expect any big changes to the weather pattern until late in February or early in March. This is the time when we may get back into a consistently colder and/or stormier period. Of course I would be happy for this forecast to be wrong and for Colorado to see snowier weather much sooner than the end of February, but most of the data I look at and past experience points toward the end of the month as the most likely time that we’ll return to a snowier period.
One other thing today…the forecast for next season (2016-2017) shows about a 60% chance that La Nina will develop (see the blue bar on the right side of the image below, which corresponds to “SON”, or “September-October-November”).
Source: Columbia University
The 60 percent value matches with past history as we’ve seen a moderate to strong La Nina develop about 2/3rds of the seasons following a moderate to strong El Nino, like we’ve seen this season. If La Nina does show it’s face next winter, it would likely bring above-average snow to the northern and central mountains of Colorado, and most of the Northern Rockies would likely see healthy snowfall as well. I just wanted to mention this long-long range outlook as today is an otherwise slow news days for fresh snowfall in Colorado.
Have a great Saturday and look for my next update on Sunday morning when we’ll talk more about the Valentine’s Day storm and when the western ridge may break.
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
Aspen, Sunlight, Monarch, Crested Butte, Irwin, Powderhorn
Telluride, Silverton, Durango, Wolf Creek (Telluride and Silverton are on the northern side of the southern mountains)