The ten days of stormy weather and snow is now over as of Monday morning, and snow totals are in the 10-30 inch range with lots of folks making turns across the state. Below, I’ll take a look at a few surprises from the last system on Sunday and also look ahead to the next chance for snow on Wednesday and Thursday.
Warren Miller’s 69th Film
Come along as we pay tribute to the original ski bum in Warren Miller’s 69th film, Face of Winter, presented by Volkswagen. Catch shows in Colorado Oct. 30 through Nov. 30. It’s tradition! Tickets: https://opsw.co/WME101518
Short Term Forecast
On Sunday we woke up to 4-8 inches of snow at mountains close to and east of the divide.
The short-range high-resolution modeling suggested that additional snow would fall over parts of the northern mountains during the day on Sunday, with high-end snow totals of 10-15 additional inches. I thought this was far too much snow and said that we’d see only an additional 2-4 inches.
Well…it turns out the high-resolution models were on to something as Winter Park, Arapahoe Basin, Keystone, Vail, Beaver Creek, and the Aspen area all measured an additional 6-11 inches.
The reason for this additional deep snowfall was twofold.
First, the jet stream was overhead, which helped to create narrow bands of intense snow. This narrow band of snow is why the mountains mentioned above received much more snow than nearby mountains that I did not mention.
Second, temperatures were cold and the snow ratios were high, between 15-to-1 and 20-to-1 (meaning 15-20 inches of snow for each one inch of liquid). This allowed the atmosphere to efficiently convert moisture into fluffy snowflakes.
Below are my estimated snow totals from Saturday night through Sunday night. I pulled these numbers from the time-lapse snow stake cams as well as automated snow measurements.
Areas close to the divide
Winter Park - 12”
Rocky Mountain National Park - 8-12”
Arapahoe Basin - 9-12” (this was surprisingly high)
Berthoud Pass - 11”
Keystone - 9” (this was surprisingly high)
Loveland - 6”
Areas further west that were struck by the narrow band of snow
Snowmass - 10”
Beaver Creek - 8”
Aspen Mountain - 6”
Aspen Highlands - 5”
Vail - 5-6”
Looking back on the past week, total snowfall fo 10-30 inches led to turns across the state.
That was an excellent storm cycle, and let’s hope we see a few more of these during the heart of winter when it really counts!
Monday and Tuesday will be dry and mostly sunny. Temperatures will be cool on Monday, warming on Tuesday.
Wednesday and Thursday is our next chance for snow. Amazingly, the storm system that just brought us 10 days of snow left a piece of energy hanging around the southwestern US (blue area to the lower-left of Colorado) and this energy will push snow back into southwestern Colorado during the middle of the week.
Right now it looks like we could see 3-6 inches of snow near and above 9,000 feet from Tuesday night through Thursday night, mostly in the southern mountains (Telluride, Silverton, Purgatory, Wolf Creek) with some showers perhaps moving further north.
Friday and Saturday should bring dry weather back to the entire state.
Ski areas will be making snow as temperatures allow (mostly overnight) and in addition to Wolf Creek being open on weekends, I expect Loveland and/or Arapahoe Basin to open in the next week or two. This is just a guess based on their current snowmaking and the forecast temperatures (I have no inside information).
You can follow Al's Blog for daily updates on the snowmaking and operations at Arapahoe Basin: https://arapahoebasin.blogspot.com/
And follow this page to see recent pictures and get the latest from the snowmaking team at Loveland: https://skiloveland.com/snowmaking-operations/
It’s possible that the storm energy hanging over the southwestern US could stick around into next week, which might mean another round of showers starting on or after Sunday, October 21st.
Beyond that, I can’t pin down our next chance for snow. All models show some storms lurking around during the last few days of October, but there is no consistency in the forecasts so we’ll have to wait and see.
Thanks for reading … next update on Tuesday, October 16.
My upcoming presentations about the winter forecast and tips for chasing pow!
* October 18 in Colorado Springs at Ute & Yeti starting at 630pm. Beer & food available for purchase. Free to attend! Details here.
* October 25 in Golden at Powder7 ski shop starting at 630pm. Free to attend! Details here.
* 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.
* Early November in Summit County
* November 28 in Vail
* December 5 in Denver
We have an iPhone app that provides detailed weather forecasts for your hiking, biking, and climbing adventures. OpenSummit now includes forecasts for 1,000 of the highest and/or notable summits and hiking areas across the United States. Download OpenSummit (iPhone only)
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
Aspen, Sunlight, Monarch, Crested Butte, Irwin, Powderhorn
Telluride, Silverton – north side of the southern mountains | Purgatory, Wolf Creek – south side of the southern mountains
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