Most mountains will see snow on Friday, then snow will continue on Friday night and Saturday for the northern mountains. A transition will take place on Saturday night as a different storm moves into Colorado, focusing snow on the southern mountains from Saturday night through Sunday night. Then we’ll have a few snow showers left over on Monday and Tuesday with dry days on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. The next storm will arrive next weekend with a pretty good chance of measurable snow on both Saturday and Sunday (mother’s day).
Snowfall totals were scattered on Thursday and Thursday night. Wolf Creek received heavier snow during the day and is reporting 6 inches in the past 24 hours as of Friday morning (Wolf will be open this Saturday and Sunday). Aspen Highlands picked up 3-4 inches and will be open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. In the north, Abasin, Loveland, and Mary Jane are open full time and are all reporting a coating to 1 inch of snow as most of the heavier showers on Thursday and Thursday night just missed these mountains.
Now on Friday morning, the cold spot in the country is eastern Colorado as temperatures are 20-30 degrees below normal for this date.
The Friday morning radar shows that most of the action is over the plains and lower foothills just east of the divide. Looking at the motion of the precipitation, it appears that steadier snow should push west toward the divide (Abasin, Loveland, Mary Jane) this morning through midday. I say “should push west toward the divide” because this storm has had a history of behaving differently than most models predict, and even now the short-range models that specialize in forecasting the next 12-24 hours still disagree about the details of where the heaviest snow will fall.
For the rest of Friday, my best forecast is that the northern mountains should see a round of snow during the morning and midday, and then as the storm pushes to the east of Colorado, wrap-around moisture should keep snow showers in the air on Friday night and Saturday for Aspen Highlands and the open mountains in northern Colorado (Abasin, Loveland, Mary Jane). If these snow showers materialize, total snowfall of around 4-8 inches or 5-10 inches by midday Saturday is likely with the best powder on Friday midday/afternoon and again on Saturday morning/midday. However, I only have low-to-moderate confidence in this snow forecast, so there will likely be surprises on the high and low side. As for Wolf Creek and the southern mountains, they could get another 2-4 or 3-6 inches on Friday and Friday night, but again I have low confidence in this forecast.
Speaking of Wolf Creek, they will be favored during the next phase of this weekend’s storminess. As the first storm moves to the east of Colorado on Saturday leaving scattered snow showers on Saturday afternoon, another storm will strengthen to the west and south of Colorado, pushing snow into the southern mountains from Saturday night through Sunday night. Snow totals during this time should be in the 6-12 inch range along the southern part of the southern mountains, which includes Wolf Creek. They are the best bet for powder on Sunday.
On Monday and Tuesday this second storm will linger close enough to Colorado to keep clouds and showers around each day, but I think snow accumulations will be light for most mountains. Total snow accumulations from Thursday through Tuesday should reach 10 inches for most mountains with 20+ inches in the southern mountains.
Then finally we’ll grab three days of back-to-back-to-back dry and sunny weather for most mountains on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. The only snafu in this plan is that the next storm may bring more clouds and a few showers on Friday May 6th, especially to the southern mountains.
For Mother’s day weekend, we’ll extend our streak of “snow on the weekend” as another slow-moving storm from the southwest should bring clouds and snow to most mountains on both Saturday and Sunday.
Winter just won’t quit!
PS - I will be giving a talk during the evening of Wednesday, May 4th at the Silverthorne Pavilion in Summit County. This will be a part of the “State of the River” event and should be a great evening covering water and snow information. My talk specifically will revisit the season-long forecast for this past season and look ahead to next season, provide tips on forecasting snow around Summit County, and I’ll also discuss the history of the business side of OpenSnow. Finally, I’ll chat a bit about what we’re up to this summer with a mobile app focused on lightning prediction for hikers. Hope to see you there, and click here for more details: http://opsw.co/stateofriver
Steamboat, Granby, Beaver Creek, Vail, Ski Cooper, Copper, Breckenridge, Keystone, Loveland, Abasin, Winter Park, Berthoud Pass, Rocky Mountain National Park, Cameron Pass
Along the Divide
Loveland, Abasin, Winter Park, Berthoud Pass
East of the Divide
Eldora, Echo, 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)