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The Colorado Daily Snow

Snow & Powder Forecasts for Colorado

Two October storms, then looking to November

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Summary

A slow-moving storm will bring showers from Monday through Wednesday with a few inches of high-elevation snow. Following dry weather from Thursday through the weekend, the next solid chance for snow will arrive around Tuesday, October 30th. Then the outlook for early November is unclear.

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Short Term Forecast

The first half of this week will look similar to the beginning of last week as a slow-moving system tracks from the southwestern US through southern Colorado.

Last week's storm dropped 3-6 inches across the southern mountains with a quick burst of 2-8 inches of snow over the central and northern mountains as the system exited Colorado.

This week's storm should also drop 3-6 inches across the southern mountains with at least a few inches over the central and northern mountains as well.

The big difference between last week's storm and this week's storm will be that temperatures this week will be warmer and the freezing level will be at a higher elevation. This means that while the middle and upper elevations of most ski areas will see snow, the lower elevations will likely see rain.

The map below shows the predicted freezing level on Monday evening. The numbers are in thousands of feet, so “11” means “11,000 feet” is the freezing level. During intense showers, snow can accumulate about 1,000 feet below the freezing level as the snowflakes drag down colder air from above.

Map via CAIC's WRF Model

From Monday through Wednesday expect showery precipitation. There will be times of dry weather and breaks of sunshine as well. The high-elevation areas should see a fresh coat of a few inches of snow.

Thursday and Friday should be mostly sunny and dry since our slow-moving storm will have exited to the east of Colorado.

Friday afternoon through Saturday midday could bring a few snowflakes to the northern mountains. A storm will brush by the northeast corner of Colorado during this time, so I can’t rule out more clouds and a few showers over the far northern mountains, but most of Colorado will stay dry during this time.

Sunday and Monday should be dry as well with the storm track staying north and east of Colorado.

Tuesday, October 30th will be our next chance for a storm. Most models agree that the storm track will sag south toward Colorado, but being over one week away, there is too much uncertainty in the forecast to know if the storm will bring a lot of snow, a little snow, etc. Stay tuned.

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Extended Forecast

As we look out about 15 days from now into early November, there is an interesting split in the forecasted weather pattern.

Before we get to November, though, let’s set the stage.

The temperature forecast for this week, Monday, October 22 to Friday, October 26, shows cooler-than-average temperatures over the northeast and the southwest (the blue and purple colors). All models agree with this. Colorado will see near average or slightly warmer-than-average temperatures.

For the next five days, from Friday, October 26 to Wednesday, October 31, most models agree that the eastern half of the US and Canada will be cool while the western US and Canada will be warmer and drier. We will likely see a storm around October 30-31st, but we don’t know how cold this system will be.

Now, here’s the interesting part.

From October 31st through November 4th, the average of 51 versions of the European model show that the cold air over the northeast will push back west and bring colder air to Colorado and the Rockies. This would improve our chances for snowfall and improve snowmaking conditions.

However, the 21 versions of the American GFS model forecast show that the cold air will stay to the eastern 2/3rds of the US and Canada and just miss Colorado.

How do we pick the most likely scenario? We don’t.

There are plausible reasons why both scenarios could play out or an entirely different scenario could come to fruition.

For what it’s worth, the Canadian model agrees more with the European model’s (colder) forecast than the American model’s (warmer) forecast, but the Canadian model usually agrees more with the European model, so we shouldn’t read too much into it.

As always, I’ll keep you updated and thanks for reading!

Next update on Tuesday, October 23.

JOEL GRATZ

Announcements

Cool things you might like!

* New! Get to see heli-skiing in virtual reality using an Oculus headset. I tried it last week and it was actually super cool to feel like you were in a helicopter and skiing with friends on big slopes, and it was the first time that doing something in virtual reality felt like a real value and not just a gimmick. Headsets will be available (as well as complimentary food & drink) at the CMH Heli-Ski event in Denver on Wednesday, October 24th. RSVP here.

* New! A contest where the winner (and 19 friends) get a mountain to themselves for a day. Enter here.

My upcoming presentations about the winter forecast and tips for chasing pow!

* October 25 in Golden at Powder7 Ski Shop starting at 630pm. Free to attend! Details here.

* New! October 30 in Nederland at Salto Coffee Works starting at 630pm. Beer and food available for purchase. Free to attend!

* November 1 in Boulder at Neptune Mountaineering starting at 600pm. Free to attend! There will be happy hour, my talk, the short film “Abandoned” about lost ski areas, and a raffle with REALLY good prizes. Details here.

* November 9 in Breckenridge/Frisco area. Details soon.

* November 28 in Vail.

* December 5 in Denver

 

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Geography Key

Northern Mountains
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, Arapahoe Basin, Winter Park, Berthoud Pass

East of the Divide
Eldora, Echo, Rocky Mountain National Park, Cameron Pass

Central Mountains
Aspen, Sunlight, Monarch, Crested Butte, Irwin, Powderhorn

Southern Mountains
Telluride, Silverton – north side of the southern mountains | Purgatory, Wolf Creek – south side of the southern mountains

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