Colorado Daily Snow

Soft Thursday, Powder Friday

Summary

Wednesday offered 3-13 inches of denser powder, and now Thursday will be soft but dry for most of the day. The next storm will bring snow from Thursday sunset through Friday night and most mountains should receive 5-15 inches with a powder day on Friday and maybe another one on Saturday morning in the northern mountains. Additional weaker storms should arrive on Monday and Thursday.

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Short Term Forecast

Storm #1 – Tuesday night to Wednesday night

The storm from Tuesday night through Wednesday night performed roughly as expected. Due to a lot of moisture in the air and warmer temperatures, the snow was on the thicker, denser side, maybe an average snow-to-liquid ratio of 12-to-1. A more normal ratio is 15-to-1, so 12-to-1 is denser than normal. But dense snow is still fun to ski, and it’ll provide a soft base for the next storm.

Below are the storm totals from Tuesday night to Wednesday night. The most snow was in the south with less in the north, but still respectable totals everywhere.

Northern mountains
Steamboat: 6”
Vail: 6”
Keystone: 5”
Loveland: 5”
Breckenridge: 4
Winter Park: 4”
Beaver Creek: 3.5”
Arapahoe Basin: 3”
Copper: 3”

Central mountains:
Aspen Highlands: 11”
Crested Butte 9”
Snowmass: 8"
Powderhorn: 7”
Aspen Mountain: 6”
Monarch: 6”
Buttermilk: 5”

Sunlight: 5”
Cooper: 4”

Southern mountains:
Silverton: 18”
Wolf Creek: 13”
Purgatory 9”
Telluride: 8”

This was the scene at Purgatory on Wednesday. Good stuff!

Storm #2 – Thursday night to Saturday morning

Following dry weather on Thursday, snow should begin by about Thursday evening sunset and the snow will be intense on Thursday night into Friday morning. Due to the moisture in the air and the relatively warm temperatures, the snow on Thursday night into Friday morning will likely be a bit denser than normal.

The HRRR 3km high-resolution model shows the following precipitation forecast through Friday mid-morning. Multiply by about 13 to estimate snowfall.

Starting on Friday morning, the wind direction will shift and will blow from the northwest, and this should favor the northern mountains, a few spots in the central mountains, like Aspen Highlands and Monarch, and the northwest side of the southern mountains, like Telluride and Silverton.

Below is the forecast radar on Friday afternoon, showing the snow showers forced by a northwest wind. This snow should be lighter and fluffier due to colder temperatures.

And on Friday night, the northern mountains could see additional snow in northwest flow, and this snow will remain light and fluffy.

Breaking all of this down by mountain range:

* The southern mountains should see the best snow from Thursday at 5pm to Friday at 8am. Most models show 10-15 inches.

* The central mountains should see the best snow from Thursday at 5pm to Friday at 8am, with northwest flow developing on Friday and additional snow around Aspen and Monarch. Amounts here should also be in the 10-15 inch range.

* The northern mountains should see some snow on Thursday night, but a southwest and west-southwest wind isn’t ideal, so amounts will be lower than the other mountains, maybe 3-6 or 4-8 inches, more with some luck. Then the wind direction will go to the northwest starting on Friday morning and expect an additional 3-6+ inches on Friday, and Friday’s snow will be light and fluffy on top of the denser snow from Thursday night. On Friday night, I like the look in the models with a northwest flow, lingering moisture, and the jet stream overhead for a few hours. This should lead to at least a few more fluffy inches, and maybe a surprisingly higher amount which could set up excellent conditions on Saturday morning. Northwest flow behind a storm is always a tricky forecast, balancing the favorable factors of a northwest wind and lingering moisture with the unfavorable favor that moisture is decreasing. Hope for the best but always keep expectations in check!

Extended Forecast

Saturday should be dry for most places, though recent models now show lingering moisture (clouds, a few showers) over the northern mountains.

Sunday will be another dry day.

Then the next system should bring snow from Sunday night through Monday night. I think 3-6 inches is a reasonable first crack at a snow forecast and the best powder could be on Monday afternoon.

Then another storm could arrive around Thursday, January 24th.

There is no change to the outlook for next week and the following week, with systems arriving every few days from the northwest with cold air, a lower moisture content, and snow favoring the northern mountains. Colorado will be on the western edge of the storm track, and any wobble west or east in this track will allow any storm to bring more or less snow.

Thanks for reading!

My next update will be on Friday, January 18.

JOEL GRATZ

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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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