Colorado Daily Snow

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More details about the storm on Sunday and Sunday night

Summary

Expect dry, sunny, and warmer weather on Friday and Saturday, then a storm will bring snow and colder air starting on Sunday around late morning or midday with snow possibly continuing through Sunday night. The best chance to ski powder will be late Sunday afternoon with perhaps even softer conditions on Monday morning. Following that system, most of next week should be dry, then it looks like we’ll be on a weekend schedule with a chance for a storm around March 10-11 and another storm around March 17-18.

Short Term Forecast

Early on Thursday evening, a piece of energy from the storm over California ejected eastward and crossed Colorado. This brought a few clouds and very light snow showers.

Then later on Thursday evening and early Friday morning, the clouds cleared and the full moon illuminated the mountains. There are a few resort and CDOT webcams that do a great job capturing the moonlight, and here are two of my favorites.

From the top of Beaver Creek looking east toward Vail and the Gore mountain range.

From Wolf Creek Pass looking east.

Now on Friday morning, the biggest feature on the weather map is the storm swirling just off the coast of Northern California and southern Oregon. This is the system that is bringing multiple rounds of cold snow to the west coast.

As we’ve discussed for days, the storm over the west coast will move very slowly, and it will not arrive here in Colorado until Sunday.

That means our weather on Friday and Saturday will be dry, mostly sunny, and warmer as high temperatures reach to the mid-to-upper 30s for most mountains.

Then the storm will finally hit Colorado on Sunday.

* Timing. Expect snow to begin sometime between Sunday late morning and midday. If anything, it looks like the storm might be slowing down just a bit, so most mountains may not see snow begin until midday or early afternoon.

* Duration. Snow should be intense for a brief period on Sunday midday/afternoon when the cold front comes through, then we’ll see scattered snow showers continue through Sunday afternoon and evening. Most accumulating snowfall should end by the very early hours on Monday morning.

* Favored mountains. It looks like all mountains will get a burst of snow on Sunday as the cold front passes, then a wind from the west and lingering moisture should keep the showers going on Sunday evening, favoring the northern mountains around Steamboat and Cameron Pass and maybe Winter Park and Berthoud Pass. The Jet Stream will also be over the central mountains, and this is the wildcard as it could help to create a few narrow bands of intense snow.

* Snow amount. Roughly 3-6 inches on average with perhaps 5-10 inches as the highest amounts in favored areas of the northern mountains.

* Snow quality. We should see thicker/denser snow on Sunday due to higher wind speeds associated with the cold front and also the initial warmer temperature. Then Sunday late afternoon could be the sweet spot for fluffier snow due to perfect temperatures. On Sunday night, temperatures will likely be very cold, resulting in smaller snowflakes and denser snow.

* Best chance to ski powder. Sunday afternoon and then Monday morning. Since the storm might be trending a bit slower, I’d give the nod to Monday morning in the northern mountains as the best chance to ski soft snow.

The map below is from the CAIC 4km WRF model showing the forecast snow accumulation through Monday morning at 1 am.

Extended Forecast

The storm will exit Colorado on Sunday night.

Monday should be chilly with highs in the teens and low 20s, mostly sunny for the southern and central mountains, with lingering clouds and flurries in the northern mountains.

Tuesday through Friday will likely be dry.

Our next chance for some type of storm will be around the weekend of March 10-11. Then our next chance for a storm will likely be about one week later, around the weekend of March 17-18. I can’t provide any additional details about these storms as they are too far away.

Even though the frequency of storms has slowed down compared to what we saw in February, I am hopeful that weekend refreshes and cool-ish temperatures will keep the snowpack in good shape across the state. March is a tricky month because the sun angle is increasing, and, in the absence of new snow and along with warm temperatures, this can hurt the snowpack. But as long as we can get some new snow each week, along with not-too-warm temperatures, we should be in OK shape.

Thanks for reading!

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