Thursday morning will be dry with a dusting of fresh snow on the slopes in the northern mountains. Then the fun begins with snow likely in the northern and central mountains from Thursday night through Friday night. The next round of snow on Saturday into Sunday will be the most intense and hit the most mountains. Snow could extend into Monday as well. That means four powder days are possible with amounts of 12-24+ inches. My pick for the deepest day is likely Sunday morning.
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Short Term Forecast
Wednesday Night Recap
This weak storm performed as expected with a dusting to 2 inches falling on most mountains near and north of I-70. You’ll find this new snow on Thursday morning. With the recent warm temperatures creating a freeze/thaw cycle, it's likely best to enjoy this new snow on the groomers or north-facing terrain.
Storm: Overview of Thursday to Monday
Going into this forecast gives me the same feeling that I get right before a hard workout: A little nervous due to the effort involved and the uncertainty of how things will go, but overall excited for the outcome because there’s a good chance this will wind up being really fun!
The big picture of the forecast hasn’t changed much over the past 24 hours – the snow is coming and all mountains will likely get 12+ inches.
The multi-model average snow forecast from the National Weather Service for Thursday night through Saturday night shows the 12-24+ inch totals across the state.
And the CAIC 2km WRF high-resolution model forecast for Thursday night through Saturday night (below) also shows 10-20+ inches for most mountains. I like it when models agree!
Storm: Day-by-day details
There are lots of ingredients that will come together during different times for different mountains. Here’s my best shot at breaking things down so you have a good chance to plan your weekend of powder. I have more confidence in the forecast compared to yesterday and have started to dial in my own plans as the model forecasts are starting to align for many aspects of the storm.
Thursday Night & Friday:
* Best snow in central and northern mountains.
* Low confidence in exact amounts because there will be narrow west-to-east bands of precipitation and it’s impossible to know where these bands will set up.
* Best estimate is 4-8 inches, maybe 12+ inches under intense bands.
* Best conditions will likely be Friday midday or afternoon.
Friday Night into Saturday first chair:
* Snow could continue on Friday evening for the northern and central mountains.
* Snow will likely ease up around Friday night at midnight as the cold front moves north of Colorado and a strong band of snow likely sits over southern Wyoming.
* Saturday morning could still offer soft turns for the northern and central mountains, but overnight snow totals might not be that impressive.
Saturday through Sunday:
* I have high confidence that the best powder will be on Sunday morning.
* We’ll likely see snow ramp up sometime on Saturday (could be as early as the morning, or it might wait until midday or afternoon) and then the snow will be intense on Saturday night thanks to moderately-strong energy and a LOT of moisture.
* All mountains will see snow during this time (the south will get into the action after being skipped earlier in the storm).
* Snow reports on Sunday morning should be 6-12 inches at least, with higher amounts possible for some central and southern mountains like Snowmass, Crested Butte, Monarch, Silverton, Wolf Creek.
* The wind direction on Saturday evening (west-southwest) should favor the central and southern mountains, then winds will switch to blow from the west and west-northwest on Sunday morning which would favor the central and northern mountains.
* The best quality powder (coldest, fluffiest) will likely be in the central mountains near and north of Aspen, the northern mountains, and also areas near and east of the divide as all of these locations will see the coldest air filter in on Saturday night or Sunday morning. Other areas will be warmer so the snow should be thicker and surfier.
* There’s a chance that a cold front will stall near I-70 or Aspen on Sunday morning which could keep the snow going on Sunday.
* Again, my confidence is highest that the deepest snow totals will be on Sunday.
Sunday afternoon through Monday
* I have low confidence in the forecast for this time.
* It’s possible that the southern and some central mountains could see another 24 hours of snow and that Monday could be a powder day.
This is an exciting couple days of snow potential – have fun!
There should be a break in the snow around Tuesday, March 5th.
Then more snow will return between about Wednesday and Saturday (March 6-9) and we might only have a short break before another storm heads toward Colorado.
Not every season offers this much snow with this much consistency, so don’t take it for granted – get out and enjoy!
Thanks for reading!
My next update will be on Friday morning.
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