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Tuesday August 26th 2014 9:08am

Summary:

Tuesday afternoon through Thursday morning will be cool and cloudy, with lots of rain showers over most mountains. Snow should accumulate on the higher peaks above 13,000ft, especially Wednesday afternoon through Thursday morning. The skies will clear by Friday afternoon, and Saturday and Sunday should be dry and sunny. The next storm will bring wind and rain showers to areas along and north of I-70 on Monday September 1st.

Details:

It's a cloudy start to Tuesday for most of Colorado as the cut-off storm I talked about yesterday is getting closer and closer.

While a few rain showers are already falling this morning, the showers will become far more numerous on Tuesday afternoon, Tuesday night, and last through Wednesday morning. These showers are brought to you by the approaching storm from the west combined with moisture streaming into Colorado from the Pacific Ocean to the southwest.

Below is an animated gif (everyone's doing it!) showing the short-term, high resolution HRRR model's forecast radar from Tuesday 7am through Tuesday 9pm. You can see how the showers are forecast to "explode" late in the day and overnight.

rain showers over Colorado HRRR model

High Resolution Rapid Refresh (HRRR) model forecast of how the radar will look on Tuesday afternoon. Source: Weatherbell.com

Temperatures are cool for this time of year, and this means that snow will once again accumulate on peaks over 13,000ft (this also happened a few days ago on Saturday). I don't expect deep accumulations, but some of the heavier showers might put down a few inches, perhaps up to 6 inches if we're lucky. While the NWS forecast map below only goes through Wednesday evening, I think we'll see the chance for snow continue through Thursday morning along the higher peaks of the continental divide along and north of I-70.

colorado snow over higher peaks

Snow is in the forecast for mountains over 13,000ft. Source: NWS

We'll continue to see a few showers and clouds around on Thursday and Thursday night, then Friday should be a nicer day though I can't rule out a shower or two as the slow-moving storm will hang around eastern Colorado.

Saturday and Sunday should be great days to enjoy the outdoors for the long weekend, then a storm to our north with clip northern Colorado sometime between Sunday night and Monday night. Expect gusty winds and afternoon showers.

storm hits northern colorado on Monday

Gettin' clipped on Labor Day. Temperatures in Celsius at 18,000ft. Source: Twisterdata.com

The first full week of September looks like we'll see average to below average temperatures ... perfect for getting in the mood for ski season!

JOEL GRATZ

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Monday August 25th 2014 8:36am

Summary:

A slow-moving storm will bring clouds, rain, cool temperatures and high-elevation snow to Colorado this week. The wettest / coolest time will be from Tuesday evening through midday Thursday. Light snow accumulations will be possible over 13,000ft. The storm will move away by Friday night, then Saturday, Sunday, and Monday should be dry with average temperatures.

Details:

Late August and early September are usually pretty dry over Colorado. I remember moving to the state on August 15, 2003 and the weather was nearly perfect (blue skies, comfy temps) for the first month I was here.

However, the next week will not be typical as we'll see cool, cloudy, rainy, and perhaps even a bit of snowy weather.

On Monday morning, the water vapor satellite image below shows two interesting features.

First, there is a storm swirling over southern Oregon that is "cut-off" from the main west-to-east flow of weather. These cut-off storms move very slowly because they are removed from the faster winds of the jet stream to the north. The cut-off storm will slowly head toward Colorado on Monday, and then will be close to or over the state from Tuesday afternoon through Friday afternoon.

The second thing of note on the satellite image is the grey and blue colors moving from the Pacific Ocean, over southern California and Arizona, and into Colorado. These colors show medium to high amounts of moisture in the atmosphere, and when this moisture combines with the cut-off storm, Colorado will see lots of clouds and showers during the upcoming week.

water vapor satellite image colorado

Source: Weathertap.com

As the cut-off storm approaches Colorado, expect showers over the eastern mountains on Monday afternoon, a break on Monday night, then a push of stronger showers and storms from midday Tuesday through Tuesday night. Rain showers will likely stick around for Wednesday and Thursday as well, with the chance for higher accumulations of rain on Wednesday and Thursday because the showers will move more slowly.

As for temperatures, the coldest air will settle over the state from late Tuesday night through Thursday morning, with readings cold enough for snow over about 13,000ft, and perhaps a bit lower. The forecast location of the coldest temperatures on Wednesday illustrate that the center of the cut-off storm will be over western Colorado, with a counter clock-wise flow of wind around the system.

cool temperatures over colorado

The main point of showing the temperature map is to notice how the circle of cold air (the storm) is cut-off from the main area of cold air to the north over Canada. The map is in Celsius, so -10C equals about 14F, and this is at 18,000ft. Source: Twisterdata.com

What does all of this mean for precipitation amounts?

Most models predict about a half an inch to an inch of rain for many areas. This won't be steady precipitation, so as usual in the summer months, some areas could see 2-3 inches while others see nothing at all.

Many mountains over 13,000ft should see a nice coating of snow with any showers from late Tuesday night through Thursday, so when the clouds give you a view, hopefully you'll see some snow-capped peaks:-)

steady precipitation for Colorado

Colorado will be one of the wetter places in the country during the upcoming week. Source: Weatherbell.com

Then after a wet week, the all important Labor Day weekend forecast looks pretty good. 

After a few remaining showers on Friday, our cut-off storm will finally move out of the state and we'll be left with perfect weather on Saturday, and most likely dry weather for Sunday and Monday as well.

We could see gusty winds and cooler temperatures on Sunday and Monday, especially for areas north of I-70 and east of the divide, but this all depends on the location of a storm that will cross Wyoming and Montana late in the weekend, so let's first focus on this week's cut-off storm and then I'll try to tighten up the weekend forecast in another few days.

JOEL GRATZ

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Saturday August 23rd 2014 10:02am

Summary:

Showers will cover the mountains for most of Saturday, with the heaviest showers falling along and north of I-70. Temperatures will be cool enough for snow to fall over 13,000ft during the day, perhaps down to 12,000ft on Saturday night.

Details:

Here are four pictures showing Saturday's storm moving through. First, the satellite showing the storm spinning over Idaho, pushing energy down to Colorado.

storm spinning over Idaho

The mountains are socked in with clouds, at least north of the San Juans. This will continue through most of Saturday with a few breaks in the afternoon.

clouds over the mountains

Under the clouds there are a few waves of rain moving through now, during the morning and midday, about 6-8 hours earlier than I talked about yesterday. The showers will continue through early afternoon, then after a break, there should be more showering during the afternoon (as evidenced by the showers now in Utah).

colorado radar

A closer look at the showers over western Colorado. This active weather pattern looks more reminiscent of fall than late August. Let's bring on winter!

western colorado radar

I'm hoping to see snow accumulate on the highest peaks above 13,000ft, perhaps down to 12,500ft or even lower. Post pictures in the comments on Sunday morning if you see snow up high!

JOEL GRATZ

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Friday August 22nd 2014 4:15pm

Summary:

Chilly air will hit Colorado on Saturday evening with possible light snow accumulations above 12,000-13,000ft for the mountains along and north of I-70. Another cold storm is likely on Tuesday evening and Wednesday with more flakes for the highest peaks.

Details:

During the summer, many computer models have predicted a cool and moist autumn season for Colorado. If the next two storms are any indication, these models may be exactly right.

On Saturday morning, the first storm will be over Idaho and will move quickly toward the east. The air will be cold enough for Montana and Wyoming to see a bit of high-elevation snow, and Colorado might also see flakes.

cold air to hit colorado on Saturday night

Forecast temperatures at 18,000ft on Saturday morning. Source: Twisterdata.com

As the cool air approaches, a line of showers will form and should push across Colorado on Saturday evening. The southern part of this line will likely dissipate as it moves over the San Juans since it will lack energy and moisture. However, the line should hold together over central and northern Colorado, especially along and north of I-70. Expect gusty winds on Saturday afternoon, culminating with showers between about 6pm-10pm on Saturday night. Temperatures could be cool enough for flakes of snow above 13,000ft, perhaps even down to 12,000ft if the showers are heavy enough and drag cold air down to the ground.

line of showers to move across colorado on Saturday evening

Forecast radar from the high resolution NAM model for Saturday night at 6pm. The heaviest showers will fall over northern Colorado. Source: Weatherbell.com

The coolest temperatures will occur after the showers, so we won't see a lot of snow on the highest peaks. By Sunday morning, temperatures should hover around freezing at 12,000ft.

temperatures will drop to freezing at Loveland

Forecast temperatures will likely hit the freezing make at 12,000ft on Sunday morning. Source: CAIC

Sunday should be a calmer day, as should Monday.

Then another cool storm will head toward Colorado on Tuesday with the likelihood of more high-elevation snow falling on Tuesday night into Wednesday. Woohoo!

We've had very few wildfires this summer in Colorado, thanks to the cool temperatures and consistent rain. However, wildfire season extends into the fall when conditions dry out and the winds increase. Hopefully the seasonal computer forecast models will be correct and fall will be wet and cool, negating the autumn fire season and starting the winter off with a bang.

Have a great weekend and enjoy the push of cool air on Saturday night! I'll be back next week with more regular updates ... it's that time of year!

JOEL GRATZ

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Friday August 8th 2014 7:07am

Pikes Peak at 14,110ft this morning, August 8th:

Nice to see snow once again:-)

Have a great weekend!

JOEL GRATZ

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