Colorado Daily Snow

Snowmaking has started, cold and snow possible October 10-11

Summary

Temperatures are now just cold enough for the highest-elevation mountains to make snow overnight. Slightly cooler weather this weekend should help these resorts crank up the snowmaking. Then next week we’ll start with dry and warm weather and could end the week with cold temperatures and maybe natural snow.

Short Term Forecast

The highest-elevation ski areas in Colorado have started making snow. Average temperatures near 11,000 feet dip down below freezing at night by early October, so snowmaking is not an unusual sight for this time of year.

While the only real snow in Colorado at the moment is machine-made, the mountains to our northwest have a coat of natural snow thanks to the storm during the last few days of September.

Here’s a quick rundown of what’s coming up.

Fri 10/4: Warm, a few showers, cold front at night.

Sat 10/5: Cool, dry, sunny.

Sun 10/6: Cool, dry, sunny.

Mon 10/7: Warm and dry.

Tue 10/8: Warm and dry.

Wed 10/9: Warm and dry.

Thu 10/10: Storm arrives…

Let’s take a quick look at the details.

On Friday night, a storm will move close to Colorado and we’ll see cooler air push into the state. There will be a few showers around, so the highest summits may see a dusting of snow.

Following Friday night’s storm, we’ll see cooler air on Saturday and Sunday. The high-resolution forecasts from the CAIC-WRF 2km model show that the wet-bulb temperature will be below 27F (click for more details about snowmaking) on Saturday and Sunday, and this means that snowmaking at the highest-elevation mountains (Arapahoe Basin, Loveland, Keystone, Copper) should become more efficient.

After the cool down this weekend, we’ll head back toward warmer temperatures (and continued dry weather) on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Nighttime temperatures could still be cool enough for some snowmaking.

Extended Forecast

All major forecast models now agree that we’ll see a storm around Thursday and Friday, October 10-11.

The storm will come from the northwest.

The question is whether the storm will stay to our north and just graze us or if it will drop farther south and make a direct hit on Colorado.

The temperature forecast for the summit of Copper Mountain shows the uncertainty of the forecast on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. The grey bar shows the range of possible temperatures from one model. The dark blue line is the average low temperature.

An uncertain storm track means that temperatures are uncertain (see above – temperatures will be chilly, but we’re not sure how cold) and also the chance for snow is uncertain.

Below are snow forecasts for Thursday and Friday (October 10-11) from back-to-back model runs. The first run has just a dusting of snow as the storm stays north. The second run has 3-6+ inches of snow for the northern mountains (and some lower-elevation cities!) as the storm moves farther south.

The take-away point is that we should have some excitement around October 10-11. 

I’ll be back with a fresh post on Monday, October 7th with more details on the potential storm.

Thanks for reading!

JOEL GRATZ

Announcements

Upcoming talks

These talks usually range from 30-45 minutes and allow me to show a little of the science behind snow forecasts, have some fun, and answer lots of questions. I’ll post details about each talk soon.

Boulder: Oct 24 @ Neptune Mountaineering

Golden: Oct 30 @ Powder7

Frisco: Nov 8 @ Highside Brewery

Nederland: Nov 12 @ Salto Coffee / Tin Shed Sports

Denver: Nov 14 @ Denver Athletic Club

Evergreen: Nov 21 @ Boone Mountain Sports

Basalt: Dec 12 @ Bristlecone Mountain Sports

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