Colorado Daily Snow

Some snow Tuesday, lots of snow Friday into Saturday

Summary

Following dry weather on Monday, we’ll see colder temperatures and 3-6 inches of snow from Tuesday midday through Tuesday night. Then a storm with a lot more moisture will bring snow from Thursday night through Saturday morning with 3-6 inches for most mountains and 10-20+ inches near and east of the divide. Friday afternoon and Saturday morning could be deep powder days.

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Short Term Forecast

Now on Monday, April 16th, most resorts are closed for the season. Below is a list of the mountains that are still spinning their lifts.

Arapahoe Basin (likely open into June)
Breckenridge (limited terrain, closes Sunday 4/22)
Eldora (closes Sunday 4/22)
Loveland (closes Sunday 5/6)
Mary Jane (close Sunday 5/6)
Winter Park (closes Sunday 4/22)

The two storms that are coming this week will favor the northern mountains, and especially the mountains close to and east of the continental divide, which just about mirrors the list of mountains that are still open, so we’re in luck.

Storm on Tuesday and Tuesday evening

This system is strong and will bring cold air, but it will lack moisture. Expect dry weather on Tuesday morning, then a cold front and snow will arrive between late morning and mid-afternoon on Tuesday with snow continuing through Tuesday evening. I’ll stick with my 3-6 inch range for the northern and north-central mountains. Even though this storm is pretty strong, my expectations for snow are on the low side due to the storm’s lack of moisture. Your best chance for skiing the few inches of new snow will be the last run on Tuesday or more likely the first run on Wednesday.

The snow forecast through Tuesday evening:

Storm from Thursday night through Saturday morning

The chances for powder on Friday-day and Saturday morning are looking better and better with each updated model run. Of course, this system is still 4-5 days away, so it’s unwise to lock in the forecast just yet, but six major global weather forecast models (European, American GFS, UKMet, Canadian, German, Japanese) agree on the general track and strength of the system, and that’s good enough for me to start getting excited!

* Timing. Snow will start late Thursday night and continue through Saturday morning.

* The Good. LOTS of moisture, which can mean big snow totals. Also, a wind direction from the east for most of the storm means big snow totals for mountains close to and east of the divide.

* The Bad. A wind direction from the east for most of the storm will limit snow totals for mountains well west of the divide. Also, temperatures will be borderline too warm for fluffy powder, but they will be cold enough for snow of decent quality for most areas, so let’s not get too picky.

* Snow Amount. Near and east of the divide should be in the 10-20 inch range. We could see a few spots get to 30+ inches in some higher foothills locations. West of the divide will likely be in the 3-6 inch range.

* Powder Days. The snow will get deeper and softer on Friday, then Saturday morning will be the deepest. We should see enough clouds on Saturday (especially near and east of the divide) to keep the sun away long enough for good quality powder in the morning, though I worry that the powder will get sun affected by Saturday midday or afternoon.

The map below is from multiple versions of the European model. Pay close attention to the geographic pattern, which I trust, as it shows the deepest amounts near and east of the divide. The exact inches will be off because this is a lower-resolution model, so it misses the details of the mountains. This means that areas west of the divide could see a bit less snow than the image, and areas east of the divide could see 2-3x more than what is shown.

The graphic below shows the snow forecast from multiple versions of the American GFS and Canadian models, and this is for Berthoud Pass, right along the continental divide. The snow forecast for Thursday night through Saturday morning is 6-27 inches with an average of 14 inches. Still lots of uncertainty, and lots of potential.

There is one very good factor about this storm that I have yet to mention.

The wind direction will be from the east from the plains (~5,000 feet) all the way up to about 30,000 feet, and the depth of the easterly wind is key in order for intense snow to make it all the way west to the continental divide (places like Eldora, Berthoud Pass, Winter Park, Loveland, Arapahoe Basin).

When the flow from the east only extends from 5,000 feet to about 15,000 feet, the most intense snow usually falls in the foothills between the plains and the divide, never quite making it up to the divide.

In this case, with roughly 24 hours of flow from the east, extending up to 30,000 feet, we have a good chance to see deep snow not just in the eastern foothills, but also getting up to the divide, and likely spilling over to areas west of the divide.

Again, we are still 4-5 days away from the storm, and the forecast could shift the location of deepest snow. But for now, I suggest keeping an eye on Friday-day and especially Saturday morning for deep powder near and east of the divide.

Extended Forecast

Snow should end by midday-ish on Saturday, though this timing could shift ~6-12 hours depending on the actual speed of the storm.

After that, I do not have confidence in the timing of the next storm. We might see something around April 24th, but again, my confidence about this is very low.

Stay tuned and 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

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