Tuesday will be the last dry day of the week. We’ll see snow showers on Tuesday night, a burst of snow on Wednesday, another burst of snow on Thursday, and showers continue into Friday. The southern mountains should see 10-20 inches with about 4-10 inches in the northern mountains. The weekend will be dry, then multiple storms should hit Colorado during the week of Thanksgiving and into early December.
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Short Term Forecast
Skies will be partly to mostly cloudy and temperatures will be warm, starting in the upper-20s in the morning with afternoon highs in the 40s.
A reader sent this photo of mountain biking around treeline in the southern mountains near the town of Rico. There was zero snow on the ground on Sunday, November 17th, but that will quickly change with the upcoming storm!
Tuesday Night – Friday
Snow is on the way, thanks to two storms that will semi-combine over the southwestern United States.
Storm #1 is spinning off the coast of Baja and will bring an initial burst of snow on Wednesday. Storm #2 is spinning off the west coast, will dive south, then over to Colorado, and should trigger additional snow on Thursday and Friday.
The National Weather Service posted a Winter Storm Watch for the southern half of Colorado and a Winter Weather Advisory for the northern half of the state. These colors on a winter map lift are a reason for excitement, especially coming off the dry weather during the first 19 days of November.
How much snow is coming? The average of multiple models still shows that the most precipitation should hit the southern mountains, and roughly half the amount for the central and northern mountains. The map below displays precipitation, not snowfall. Multiply by about 12 to estimate snow.
Converting to snow yields 10-20 inches for the southern mountains (Purgatory, Silverton, Wolf Creek) and about half of that, 5-10 inches, for the central and northern mountains.
Below is the rough timing of the storm.
On Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, we’ll see an initial round of showers. Temperatures will be warm with a snow level around 8,000-9,000 feet, which is still snow for most resorts though some rain will fall at a few lower bases.
On Wednesday, a band of intense snow should move across Colorado. The wind direction favors the most snow falling in the southern mountains, but because of the random nature of stronger cells within this band, any mountain could see a quick burst of 2-5 inches in a few hours.
On Thursday, another band of intense snow should move across Colorado. Again, the southern mountains will be favored, with random, stronger cells hitting other mountains. The snow level will fall to or below most mountain bases.
From Thursday night through Friday, snow showers will continue with a few inches of additional accumulation and a possibility that some area over the central or northern mountains might see 3-6 inches during this time. Temperatures will be colder, so the snow quality will be lighter and fluffier.
If you’re looking to enjoy the new snow at a resort, both Thursday and Friday should offer new snow at open areas, and Friday is the wildcard as the morning that could be pretty fun if an area of more intense snow materializes on Thursday night.
Also, a few mountains will be opening or re-opening on Saturday:
Aspen Mountain – Opening for the season on Sat, Nov 23
Beaver Creek – Opening for the season on Sat, Nov 23
Snowmass – Opening for the season on Sat, Nov 23
Purgatory – Opening for the season on Sat, Nov 23
Wolf Creek – Opening for the weekend on Sat, Nov 23
One last thing about this storm. I like to look for areas where the models agree about snow totals because that increases our confidence in the forecast. One area is Wolf Creek, where both the Canadian model and the CAIC WRF 2km model show about 20 inches of total snowfall.
Just like yesterday's forecasts, I looked at all of the longer-range forecasts and I have nothing but good news to report.
All models show a chance for at least two storms during the week of Thanksgiving with storm chances continuing into early December.
When I find more agreement among the models, I’ll start talking about the timing and track of each system. For now, I am happy to see lots of possible action over the next two weeks and I’ll leave it at that.
Thanks for reading!
My next update will be on Wednesday morning.
PS – I hope to see some of you at one of my upcoming talks listed below!
These talks are usually 45 minutes and allow me to show a little of the science behind snow forecasting, have some fun, and answer lots of questions. I’ll post details about each talk as they are available.
* Wheat Ridge: Nov 19 @ Downriver Equipment
- I will be talking about snow forecasting
- Ron Radzieta will be talking about river flows for rafting, etc
- The night starts at 600pm
- Beer provided by Good River & Fat Tire
- Directions and details
* Evergreen: Nov 21 @ Boone Mountain Sports / Evergreen Brewery
- Doors open at 600pm, beer and great food available for purchase
- My talk starts at 700pm
- Directions and details
* Breckenridge: Dec 6 @ Colorado Mountain College Breckenridge
* Basalt: Dec 12 @ Bristlecone Mountain Sports
- 700-730 Light refreshments
- 730-830 Presentation + Q&A
- Tickets are $10/person (proceeds benefit Roaring Fork Conservancy)
- More details
- Purchase a ticket in advance (might sell out)
Plug for the 12th Annual CAIC Benefit Bash
- November 23rd at the Breckenridge Riverwalk Center
- The biggest fundraiser of the year for CAIC
- LOTS of prizes, awesome live music, silent and live auctions, dinner, and drinks
- Win skis, splitboards, packs, and more
- Get your ticket today!
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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