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Friday October 17th 2014 8:27am

Summary:

A few showers over the San Juans on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, then most of the state will see rain and high elevation snow on Tuesday night through Thursday morning. Then ... back to the sun.

Details:

The big story isn't the weather but that the WROD opens today at Arapahoe Basin. The WROD is affectionately known as the "white ribbon of death". It's pretty much what I grew up skiing back east, but in the west it gets a special acronym.

arapahoe basin

Our weather has been beautiful this week, albeit pretty boring. Sunny skies, mostly light winds, a few high clouds. This will generally continue through the weekend and into Monday. As additional moisture moves in, there will be a few afternoon showers over the southern third of Colorado on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. The rest of the state should stay dry.

colorado weather forecast
Source: Weathertap.com

Next week, I think Tuesday starts dry, but then a splitting storm will slowly push through Colorado with rain showers (snow over 10,000ft) on Tuesday night, Wednesday, and Wednesday night. Precipitation likely won't be all that heavy, but most areas will see wetting rains / snows.

Then Thursday (10/23) should clear out and we'll be back to dry weather through about the 27th or 28th. There is a bit of model agreement pointing toward our next storm during the last few days of October. Overall, not a very active forecast. I'll keep you updated.

JOEL GRATZ

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Thursday October 16th 2014 5:22am

Summary:

Dry with high clouds on Thursday and Friday, and oh yeah, Abasin opens on Friday(!). A few showers for southern Colorado on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, then most of the state should see scattered showers of rain and snow next Tuesday and Wednesday.

Details:

On Wednesday morning I wrote that temperatures for snowmaking would not be very good for the next 5-7 days. Then, of course, on Wednesday afternoon I received a press release that Abasin intends to open on Friday. So much for my knowledge of snowmaking! I was surprised that Abasin could open after only having a few nights of cool weather conducive to making snow, but kudos to them!

Our upcoming weather on Thursday and Friday will be similar to Wednesday as the atmosphere will be dry with only high cirrus clouds moving across the state from time to time.

On Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, additional moisture will be lifted into Colorado from the south, so look for scattered afternoon showers over the southern third to half of the state, mostly over the San Juan and Sangre de Cristo mountains.

Then on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week, a piece of the storminess over the Pacific Ocean will break off and move into the western US. This energy may cut off from the main flow of weather and spin to our south, so the forecast is definitely not set in stone. That said, most of the weather models agree that the entire state will see rain showers (high-elevation snow) on Tuesday and Wednesday, with the most precipitation over the southern third of Colorado.

colorado snow forecast
Precipitation forecast from the Canadian weather model. Source: Weatherbell.com

Late next week and weekend (roughly October 23-26) should return to dry weather, and then the last few days of the month could be stormy once again as another wave of energy pushes east from the Pacific Ocean.

JOEL GRATZ

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Wednesday October 15th 2014 8:49am

Summary:

Keep the sunscreen handy because it'll be sunny and generally dry for about the next 7 days. We could see some rain/snow next Wednesday or Thursday, though that looks like a transient storm versus a significant pattern change.

Details:

Yesterday was a perfect day with not a cloud in the sky. On the visible satellite image below, the white color that you see is snow on the mountains.

colorado weather
Source: Weathertap.com

Wednesday, today, through early next week won't be cloudless as we will see times of high and mid-level clouds, but most of the state will be dry for the next week. The southern mountains (San Juans and Sangre de Cristos) may see scattered showers Saturday and Sunday, but the precipitation will be hit and miss.

A small piece of the storminess over the Pacific Ocean will move inland during the middle of next week and we'll have a higher chance for showers (rain & snow) next Wednesday or Thursday. After that, many models return us to drier weather for a few days before a possible change to a more active pattern late in the month. At that range, 15 days, there's virtually no skill in the details of the model projections, so I'm looking at trends and like to share what I'm seeing, but take it as a very low-skill forecast.

In terms of snowmaking, Loveland, Abasin, and Copper had two productive nights Sunday and Monday night, but temperatures failed to drop to freezing on Tuesday night and it'll be borderline for the next week or so. I'm not a snowmaking expert, but I wouldn't expect much progress on that front for at least a week.

Patience, I suppose. It's great biking weather!

JOEL GRATZ

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Tuesday October 14th 2014 9:30am

Summary:

Sunny and dry for the rest of the week. Perhaps a few showers around this weekend and early next week. We will likely need to wait until the end of the month to see another significant storm.

Details:

Monday was a chilly day with snow on the peaks and mostly sunny skies (except for some lingering clouds along the divide).

This morning is gorgeous without a cloud over Colorado. Visibility from the top of Pikes Peak near Colorado Springs is over 60 miles as you can clearly see the snow-capped peaks of the Sangre de Cristo range to the southwest.

pikes peak
Source: Pikes Peak Cam at http://parks.coloradosprings.gov/pikespeak

Look for dry and sunny weather today on Tuesday.

Wednesday afternoon will be breezy for the mountains and temperatures near Denver could top 80 degrees.

Thursday and Friday should be dry as well.

The snowmaking outlook for the rest of the week is marginal. After a good night on Monday night with temperatures in the low 20s and relatively low humidity, overnight low temperatures for the rest of the week will just barely get into the lower 30s or upper 20s.

This weekend and into early next week, we'll see more moisture but the most that will happen will be a few scattered showers.

The weather pattern likely will not get interesting until at least 10 days from now. It's then that the storminess over the Pacific Ocean might finally push east into the United States. If and when this happens, the models are hinting that any storms would be cut-off from the main flow, and these cut-off storms usually move slowly, erratically, and can produce heavy precipitation but over a smaller area. We'll see what happens.

snow forecast colorado
Source: Weatherbell.com

I'll keep my eye on the long-range forecast as well as any chances for scattered showers before then. Otherwise, enjoy your biking, running, and hiking!

JOEL GRATZ

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Monday October 13th 2014 8:41am

Summary:

The webcams show that 5-7 inches was about the right forecast for yesterday's storm. There will be lingering clouds on Monday morning and Monday will be a chilly day. Otherwise, look for dry, sunny, and warmer weather for Tuesday through at least early next week. The next chance of a significant storm will wait until about the last 4-6 days of October.

Details:

The cold front hit northern and central Colorado on Sunday morning and produced a 30-60 minute period of heavy snow with almost no visibility. This initial band dropped a quick 3-4 inches and also closed I-70 over Vail Pass for a while. I mentioned this possible closure in yesterday's post because it appears that the biggest issue for I-70 is quick-hitting snow bands that drop visibility. I don't know what the solution is as it doesn't seem practical to shut the road down for 15 minutes in advance of a snow band like this, but that's probably what should happen. Hmmm.

After that first band went through, off-and-on snow showers dropped a few more inches during the afternoon and through about midnight. If this were winter, I would say that enough snow fell after lifts closed on Sunday to make Monday morning a soft/powdery time to hit first chair.

Total accumulations ranged from just a few flakes in the San Juans to a few inches around central Colorado (Crested Butte to Aspen) to about 5-7 inches for most areas along and north of I-70. The highest total was about 9 inches on the Breckenridge snow stake. All of the cams below are available on OpenSnow.com and are fed from the resorts. I'm glad so many mountains have adopted snow stake cams over the last few years, and we offer timelapse views of the cams so that you can see the snow piling up (some mountains have timelapse on their sites as well).

breckenridge snow stake

vail snow stake

steamboat snow stake

loveland snow stake

keystone snow stake

Looking ahead, today, Monday, will clear out after lingering morning clouds. Temperatures will stay chilly during the day, but warm up on Tuesday and beyond. The storm track will stay well to our north over Washington and British Columbia, and also well to our east. That will result in dry weather for Colorado over the next week.

precipitation forecast
Source: NOAA

The only "action" I see for the next 7-10 days will be stronger winds on Wednesday, some mid to high-level clouds on Wednesday and Thursday, and perhaps a few more clouds and a random shower next weekend.

For the next significant storm, we'll need to wait for the storminess over the northern Pacific Ocean to push east into the US. I do not see signs of this happening in any of the models (American GFS, Canadian GEM, European ECMWF) for at least the next 10 days, and perhaps not through 15 days. The trough over the Pacific will come inland eventually, but right now I'd count on a tranquil weather pattern through most of the rest of the month with potential storminess after about October 25th.

As for snowmaking conditions, they will be pretty good Monday night into Tuesday morning, but after that overnight temperatures will struggle to get below freezing for elevations below 11,000ft. The dry weather (low humidity) allows snowmaking to take place even with marginal temperatures, but the key point is that snowmaking conditions won't be ideal after Tuesday morning. 

The atmosphere giveth and the atmosphere taketh. So take what it gives you and enjoy another week or two of activities that don't involve sliding on snow. Those days will be here soon enough.

JOEL GRATZ

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