If only this were mid-winter, it would be a week-long powder fest. Expect the most intense snow on Wednesday morning, and then a second storm will bring snow again on Thursday and Thursday night. Friday and Saturday should be dry, then the final storm in the series will deliver snow on Saturday night and Sunday with the most snow east of the divide and cold air for all mountains.
Short Term Forecast
Like the last few days, let’s start out with pictures.
From Beaver Creek, nicely showing accumulations that start right around the base area at 8,000 feet.
From above at 30,000 feet, looking from south-to-north at the Mosquito Range, just west of Fairplay. For a ski-area reference, Breckenridge is about 20 miles to the north.
It looks an awful lot like winter over the higher mountains of Colorado, and the dry (but cloudy) weather from Tuesday will give way to additional snow for two more days.
I really wish this weather pattern developed in mid-winter (maybe it’ll come back?) because we’d be talking about a solid week of skiing pow. In addition to the snow that we’ve already seen, Wednesday would be a sneaker day (little to no snow on the morning reports but lots during the day) and Thursday would be another powder day for many areas.
To the forecast…
Wednesday will bring a potent storm with moderate to intense snow during the morning and midday. We’ll see snow accumulate down to 7,000-8,000 feet (at or below the base area for many mountains). Most mountains will get 3-6 inches, though a few higher-elevation areas could get 4-8+ with maybe the limiting factor being daylight hours as temperatures are a bit warmer than if the storm moved through at night.
As of early Wednesday morning, this storm has already dropped lots of snow in Utah, where webcams and sensors show 14 inches at Alta, 13 inches at Solitude, and 10 inches at Park City, Canyons, and Powder Mountain (can’t tell at other areas due to lack of early-season reporting).
The water vapor satellite image shows the well-defined spin over northern Utah, and that spin will cross central Colorado on Wednesday, generating plenty of snow.
The radar confirms that there is a lot of precipitation still over Utah, with snow (and lower-elevation rain) just getting to western Colorado at 600 am Wednesday morning.
Wednesday night should offer a short break in the snowfall.
Thursday and Thursday night will bring yet another system with the chance for significant snow, though I have lower confidence with this storm compared to the Wednesday storm.
On Thursday, a narrow (50 mile wide) band of snow should develop, dropping moderate to intense snow during the morning and midday. It looks like the mountains with the best chance to pick up the most snow (3-6+ inches) will be around Powderhorn, Sunlight, Aspen, Ski Cooper, Beaver Creek, Vail, and Copper. This narrow band of snow, shown as the red line in the image below, could shift north or south which would markedly change the forecast. It’s a close call.
On Thursday afternoon and Thursday night, the narrow band of snow will turn into more widespread showers, with at least a few inches for most areas.
The limiting factor on Thursday will be slightly warmer temperatures, so the best accumulations will likely be above 8,000-9,000 feet.
Friday and Saturday should be drier with some sun and a bit warmer temperatures.
Saturday evening through Sunday afternoon will be the final storm in this series.
The storm will focus the most snow near and east of the divide with 4-8+ inches likely around Cameron Pass, Rocky Mountain National Park, Eldora, and Echo.
Areas further west should see flakes but likely just a few inches.
And this system will be COLD with temperatures in the teens in the mountains on Sunday and snow falling down to the lowest elevations on the plains, including the Denver metro area.
Next week will NOT be like this week.
For next week, expect mostly dry weather and temperatures warming 10-15 degrees over this week.
That being said, next week will not be without a bit of action as we might see a shot of cooler air on Tuesday, and a stalled storm over the southwest might push more clouds and a few showers over Colorado sometime mid/late next week.
Far out, more models are now hinting at another storm system right around the end of October.
Thanks for reading … next update on Thursday, October 11.
PS - I updated info for a few of my upcoming talks. See below and hope to see you in person soon!
My upcoming presentations about the winter forecast and tips for chasing pow!
* October 18 in Colorado Springs at Ute & Yeti starting at 630pm. Beer & food available for purchase. Free to attend! RSVP here.
* October 25 in Golden at Powder7 ski shop starting at 630pm. Free to attend!
* November 1 in Boulder at Neptune Mountaineering starting at 600pm. Free to attend! There will be happy hour, my talk, the short film “Abandoned” about lost ski areas, and a raffle with REALLY good prizes. Details here.
* Early November in Summit County
* November 28 in Vail
* December 5 in Denver
We have an iPhone app that provides detailed weather forecasts for your hiking, biking, and climbing adventures. OpenSummit now includes forecasts for 1,000 of the highest and/or notable summits and hiking areas across the United States. Download OpenSummit (iPhone only)
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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