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Friday December 14th 2012 8:27am

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Here's the deal: I'm psyched! Snow this weekend for most areas, a likely powder day next Wednesday for most areas (consider this your 5-day heads up on that one), and continued chances for storms every few days as far as the eye can see. This makes me very happy. Add to that fact that I'm listening to some really good trance music by Above & Beyond right now, and things can't get much better!

As forecast, it's already dumping in the southern San Juans by sunrise and that will continue through the day with more than a foot of accumulation by evening. The rest of the state will see snow on-and-off during the day, but it's not until the wind switches around to the west by late Friday afternoon that the better accumulations will start for the rest of the state. The winner for this first part of the storm will definitely be the southern San Juans with 12-18"+ for Wolf Creek, Durango, and Silverton. A lot of people asked yesterday if Telluride is included in the southern San Juans, and that's a "no". Telluride is on the northern side of the San Juans and they'll get better snow from a west and northwest wind (such as Friday evening through the weekend).

Saturday morning should be deep in the southern San Juans and soft underfoot for most other areas with at least a few inches (2-4, 3-5 ?) falling for other locations. More light snow will fall through the day on Saturday. I know you want to see big totals forecast, but a few days of light snow and cold temperatures does a great job on our snowpack, so let's keep this rolling.

After a downturn in the snow Saturday night into Sunday, at least another few inches is likely for the central and northern mountains Sunday and Sunday night. The third in a series of storms will move through during this time (the previous storms came through on Friday and Saturday) and should keep the flakes flying. There are too many details to mention in this write about each mountain and how much snow they will get, so check out the Colorado Powder Prediction where I hand-craft the forecast for each ski area for every day and night out to five days.

The snow should stop by midday Monday and dry weather will take over on Tuesday and Wednesday. But...

A strong cold front will head east off the Pacific on Tuesday, will hit Utah Tuesday night, and then bring heavy snow to most of Colorado on Wednesday. Wednesday should (hopefully...it's still five days away...but things are looking good) be a day with "free re-fills" of powder through the day for most mountains. I'll provide more details as this gets closer, but with more terrain opening after this weekend's snow, next Wednesday could be a widespread powder day.

The longer range forecast toward Christmas and beyond shows continued chances of storms every few days. Yesterday's post may have sullied your emotions just a bit, but I fell victim to what I warn people never to do: Hang your hat on the details of long-range forecasts. Overall, the pattern looks fine as far as I can see with continued chances of snow.

Life is good. Enjoy the flakes. Slide with care. Listen to good music. Hug a stranger. I'm taking a few laps at Vail this morning to explore some newly opened terrain then I'm off to Utah until next Thursday to meet with resorts and work on recruiting a good Utah forecaster. Don't worry, I love Colorado and will always live here, but Utah has great snow as well and I know a lot of you like to go there, so I want to ensure our forecasts are top rate when you decide to head west.

Viva la pow!

JOEL GRATZ

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