Thursday will bring rain showers with snow above 11,000-12,000 feet, and a cooler system on Friday will deliver a quick hit of rain/snow around midday. Following a brief dry period on Saturday, we should see cool temperatures and mountain snowfall from Saturday night through Monday night with 6-10+ inches for many areas. Cool and showery weather will then stick around through most of next week.
Short Term Forecast
Let’s take a moment to look back at the total precipitation from Monday evening through Tuesday evening, the time when we saw the remnants of Hurricane Rosa.
Rain totals were greatest in the southwestern part of Colorado, as expected, with 0.5-1.6 inches. This was in line with or just on the lower end of many of the forecasts that we looked at during the days leading up to the event.
After the moisture from Hurricane Rosa passed through on Tuesday, we saw drier weather on Wednesday, though some mountains still saw a few showers.
Now on Thursday morning, the national radar shows lots of action over western Colorado, Utah, and Arizona.
The piece of energy that is responsible for the rain (and high elevation snow) on Thursday is potent, so we are also seeing lots of lightning on Thursday morning, and the lightning threat will remain through the day on Thursday.
Let's look ahead to the next 2-3 days…
Thursday will bring showers to most mountains with snow levels around 12,500 feet in the morning, lowering to perhaps 11,000 feet by the afternoon.
Thursday night and Friday morning will then be drier.
On Friday late morning through late afternoon, the next system will bring a quick round of showers, mainly to the northern half of Colorado. Snow levels could lower from 11,000 feet to 9,000 feet or below on Friday, so some ski areas should get a fresh coating.
Then on Saturday, expect dry weather to start the day, followed by showers beginning during the afternoon and evening.
The forecast radar from the NAM-WRF 3km high-resolution model shows this progression, with showers on Thursday, drier weather on Thursday night, showers midday Friday, drier weather Friday night into Saturday, and some precipitation approaching from the west on Saturday afternoon.
It now looks like the best chance for cool temperatures and mountain snowfall will be between Saturday evening and Monday evening. Snow could fall down to 8,000 feet or below, so both ski areas and their nearby mountain towns could see accumulating snow.
Since the storm will be centered to the southwest of Colorado during most of this time, we will see a wind direction from the southwest, south, and southeast, and these directions favor the most snow in the southern and central-eastern mountains.
The snow forecast outlines these favored areas nicely as the locations with the highest potential snowfall totals.
The deepest totals are forecast for the southern mountains, so let’s look at Wolf Creek as an example.
A range of model versions from the American GEFS model and the Canadian CMCE model at Wolf Creek show 1-83 inches (how about that outlier!) with an average of about 13 inches.
And a range of model versions from the European ECMWF model at Wolf Creek show 1-20 inches with an average of about 11 inches (green bar below).
With this model guidance, it’s possible and likely that the southern mountains could see double-digit snow totals from this system.
Other mountains should also see snow, at least 3-6 inches between Saturday evening and Monday evening, so all of Colorado will get an early taste of winter by early next week.
Beyond early next week, we could continue to see rain and snow showers through the end of next week.
Thanks for reading … next update on Friday, October 5.
* October 18 in Colorado Springs
* October 25 in Golden
* November 7 in Boulder
* Early November in Summit County
* November 28 in Vail
* December 5 in Denver
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