Aside from a few light snow showers in the northern mountains on Monday, we should see dry weather through Wednesday. Then energy from a complex storm should bring some snow Wednesday night into Thursday, with another colder and more powerful wave on Sunday into Monday. We should have multiple chances for pow days during the next 7-14 days, but the details are still hard to figure out.
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Short Term Forecast
On Sunday, moisture moved over the southern mountains, but despite most weather forecast models' insistence that this moisture could translate into light snow and some accumulation, I saw just a few snowflakes on webcams with no reports of accumulation.
Now on Monday morning, the infrared satellite image shows lower clouds over the southern and western mountains. This image also superimposes the lights from cities to give you perspective (it’s easy to see the Fort Collins area, the Denver metro, and further south, Colorado Springs and Pueblo.
These low clouds may result in a few snow showers in the northern mountains, especially on Monday afternoon and evening, though accumulations should be light.
Then Tuesday and Wednesday should be dry and warm with high temperatures in the 40s.
For the past week, we have seen the forecast for a stormy period starting around Thursday, March 15th and continuing through early the following week. This general forecast is not changing.
However, even now, just 3-4 days before the stormy period begins, I have very little confidence in the details of when we will see snow.
My thinking is that we’ll see a warmer wave of snowfall on Wednesday night into Thursday. Then we’ll have drier weather on Friday and Saturday, with a stronger and colder wave of snowfall on Sunday into Monday.
The average of the 51 versions of the European model target the southern and western mountains with the most snow through next Monday. This makes sense because the dominant wind direction during this storm cycle should be from the southwest and west. Also, because this model is run at a lower resolution, it can under forecast snow amounts many times, so when you look at this image, mentally increase the amounts by 1.3-2.0x.
Zooming into a few areas, below is the University of Utah ensemble forecast for Wolf Creek Pass in the southern mountains. This shows multiple versions of the Canadian and American GFS model. We wind up with significant snow, but the details are not easy to agree on.
Below is the same graphic but for Berthoud Pass in the northern mountains. Aside from a few outlines, the majority of the snow looks like it would fall from late Saturday through Sunday.
To give perspective, that sometimes these graphics are NOT super uncertain, below is the forecast for the Central Sierra Snow Lab near Donner Pass, near Lake Tahoe in California. While there is uncertainty in the entire 7-day forecast, there is reasonable certainty in snow amounts and timing on Tuesday night into Wednesday (March 13-14).
Wrapping this together for here in Colorado, I think the best chance for us to ski powder will be on Thursday (warmer storm, higher snow levels around 8,000 feet), and then on Sunday and Monday (colder storm, fluffier powder).
After that, we should see another chance (or chances) for snow later the following week, roughly between March 21-25.
Thanks for reading!
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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