The trend in the forecast has been a good one and it now looks like many mountains will see snow on Friday with powder possible on Friday-day and Saturday-morning and amounts over 6 inches for eastern mountains. Then we’ll have drier weather for a few days with snow likely returning later next week.
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Short Term Forecast
It’s been a few days without fresh snow, so let’s remember the good times earlier this week when Wolf Creek received about 14 inches. Phil (the skier’s) report: “The snow was creamy and super fun with denser supportive snow underneath a handful of inches of fluff on top.”
Powder Friday coming up
On Wednesday morning we talked about Friday having the potential for powder but that model consistency was near zero and we needed to wait another day to see how the forecast would come together.
Well, good news - the forecast is coming together in a way that should bring snow to nearly all mountains with a decent chance for true powder at mountains that are furthest to the east.
Yesterday’s forecast showed the probability for 3+ inches of snow as mostly under 10%.
And now today’s forecast is looking much better with the probability of 3+ inches of snow at 50%+.
As I’ve been mentioning, our current weather pattern is not one that brings a high likelihood for snow to Colorado. Storms are splitting and weakening as they move from the Pacific Ocean into the west coast and Rockies.
However, if a storm happens to wobble and track in just the right way, we can get snow. This happened on Monday, and it’ll happen again on Friday. This is quite lucky!
* Timing: Snow should start late Thursday night and continue through Friday night.
* Best powder: Friday should bring deeper snow through the day, and then some snow should fall after lifts close on Friday afternoon, so Saturday morning should be soft as well.
* Snow amounts. Most mountains should see at least some flakes. The deeper totals will be areas that are further east and south thanks to the storm’s more southerly track and a wind direction from the north and northeast (Eldora, Winter Park, Berthoud Pass, Summit County, Monarch, Wolf Creek). Top-end totals could be over 10 inches.
Here are some model graphics showing where the snow should fall.
A general 2-6 inches, with 6+ inches further east.
Below, the CAIC WRF 4km shows about the same thing. The tight gradient between less snow to the west and more snow to the east means that the actual snow amount could be much different than the forecast if this line between a lot and a little snow shifts just a bit west or east.
Looking at the uncertainty, there is a wide range for Berthoud Pass, from 3 to 20 inches, but the middle forecast of about 10 inches looks reasonable.
Monarch Pass is also coming in around 10 inches. The wind from the northeast extends reasonably high into the atmosphere, up to 18,000 feet, and this should be high enough to bring good snow to the higher mountains of the divide and not just to the lower foothills.
Wolf Creek can also do well in this pattern. The wind from the northeast is doable for them, even though a wind from the southwest if the favored direction.
Further west, as an example at Vail Pass, the snow amounts are closer to 5 inches, though of course there is still a wide range from just a few inches to over 10 inches.
The bottom line is that at mountains further east (Eldora, Winter Park, Berthoud Pass, Summit County, Monarch, Wolf Creek) Friday has a high likelihood to be a powder day, and Saturday's first chair could be good as well.
I think Saturday and Sunday will be mostly dry, though I can’t rule out some showers as energy from Friday’s storm might linger over Colorado, especially southern Colorado.
Early next week should be dry as well.
Then chances for snow will increase starting later on Tuesday into Wednesday, with the best chance for the next storm around Friday, January 18th. And there could be another system next weekend or on Monday, January 21st, so we’ll keep an eye on the holiday weekend to see if we can enjoy more powder.
Thanks for reading!
My next update will be on Friday, January 11. I will be traveling through early next week and will usually be able to post early each morning, as usual, though now and again a post might be delayed a bit. Thanks for understanding!
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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