On Thursday, a narrow band of intense snow will drop 4-8+ inches on parts of the central and northern mountains. Then Friday and Saturday will be dry before the final storm in the series brings very cold air on Saturday night and Sunday with 4-8+ inches falling near and east of the divide. Also, Wolf Creek announced that they will open on weekends starting this Saturday (October 13).
Short Term Forecast
Let’s do a brief recap of Wednesday.
We saw a period of intense snow as the storm moved through during the morning and midday, then showers continued for much of Wednesday afternoon and evening. Most mountains picked up 3-6 inches and Wolf Creek may have picked up about 6-8 inches.
It looks like the winner was Crested Butte as they shared a measurement of 10 inches at the mid-mountain snow stake. Their snow stake webcam is not yet up for the season, so they sent the below image in an email after one of their employees went up to snap an in-person picture.
The next piece of news from Wednesday is that Wolf Creek (in the southern mountains) reported a storm total of 20 inches with a mid-mountain base of 14 inches. One week ago on October 4th, we looked at longer-range models that forecasted an average of 15 inches of snowfall at Wolf Creek by this date, so the models did rather well. In any case, this is enough snow for Wolf to say ‘let’s spin the lifts!’ and they are going to open on Saturday, October 13th and open on weekends only for the next few weeks. More details on their homepage: https://wolfcreekski.com/
To the forecast…
Wednesday night brought a brief break in the action.
Now on Thursday morning, the narrow band of snow that we discussed yesterday has set up shop over the central mountains and parts of the northern mountains.
Here is the regional radar, showing the band:
And here is the local, western-Colorado radar showing the same band:
Notice that the band is oriented from southwest-to-northeast, isn’t shifting much west or east, and the precipitation is moving within the band over the same areas. This is the recipe for deep snow accumulations as the precipitation ’trains’ over the same area for many hours.
The short-range HRRR model predicts that this bands will hang around through at least midday Thursday and then will transition to more showery precipitation through Thursday night. The animation below is a forecast from Thursday at 600am through about Thursday night at midnight.
The same HRRR model shows the following for snow accumulations on Thursday. Under the intense band, we could see 4-8 inches with double digits likely in areas that see the intense snow for the longest time. Other mountains should at least pick up a few inches in the afternoon and evening showers, and there’s a chance that Wolf Creek is somewhere in between with maybe 6 inches.
Late Thursday night will be when the snow stops.
On Friday and Saturday, expect dry weather with warming temperatures (into the 40s at ski areas) and plenty of sunshine.
Then on Saturday night through Sunday night, the final storm in this week-long series will deliver very cold air to all of the state with the most intense snow near and east of the divide.
The image below is an average of 51 versions the European model and signals the area most favored for deeper snow on Sunday, which is Cameron Pass, Rocky Mountain National Park, Eldora, Echo, and other areas east of the divide. Top amounts (8+ inches) will likely be higher than what is shown in this lower-resolution model and snow should accumulate into the front range metro areas around Denver.
If this were mid-winter, Sunday would be a fun powdery day near and east of the divide. Since we’re in mid-October, Sunday will instead be a day to take a hike through the snow, or use the rock skis to skin and make some turns dodging the rocks, or head to Wolf Creek to ride lifts and ski inbounds (likely also dodging some rocks – hey, it’s October, that’s just the game).
Monday morning will be the coldest morning of this young season with temperatures in the single digits and teens. Then we’ll slowly warm through next week.
We could see a few southern-mountain showers during the middle and end of next week (October 17-20), though these showers shouldn’t bring much precipitation.
The next chance for a significant storm will be 2+ weeks out, perhaps between October 26 and early November.
Thanks for reading … next update on Friday, 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
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