Tuesday and Wednesday will be beautiful and warm days, then snow will begin on Wednesday night around Steamboat and spread over the northern and central mountains on Thursday. Snowfall will favor the northern mountains with 4-8 inches, decreasing to a few inches in the central mountains and maybe a dusting in the southern mountains. Snow will end on Thursday night, though Friday will still be a cold day. The next chance for a storm should be around October 18-23.
Short Term Forecast
This week will bring a massive swing in the weather, which is typical for Colorado on the shoulder seasons of spring and fall.
Wednesday’s high temperatures will be in the 50s for the mountains and the 70s for most lower-elevations areas.
Then Thursday’s high temperatures will be 30+ degrees colder with daytime highs in the 20s for the mountains and the 30s for lower-elevation locations.
Now that the storm is about two days away, we can look at the higher-resolution models to attempt to assess the details of the system.
Wednesday night’s snowfall should be confined to an area around Steamboat and the Flattop mountains of northwestern Colorado.
Starting around Thursday sunrise, the intense snow should shift to the east. Thursday during the day is when most of the northern and central mountains will see snow, as well as the cities around Denver.
And on Thursday night, we’ll see just lingering snow showers with light additional accumulations.
Total snowfall from the CAIC-2km model (and most other models) shows that the northern mountains will measure 4-8 inches, the central mountains should grab 2-4 inches, and the southern mountains will just get dusted.
Positive: The jet stream will be overhead on Wednesday night and Thursday morning, and this will create narrow bands of intense snow. Any of these bands could produce snowfall rates of 1-2+ inches per hour, and if a certain mountain stays under an intense band for a few hours, snow totals could be greater than what I show above. You can see the signature of these narrow bands, highlighted in pink, in the forecast radar graphic below.
Negative: This storm will lack moisture, especially after Thursday at about 12 pm. The lack of moisture and the very cold air are related because very cold air is usually sourced from land areas to our north, and a storm track from the north offers much less moisture compared to a track from the west which sources air from the Pacific Ocean. So, if a location does not get lucky with a narrow band of intense snow on Thursday morning, total snow accumulations could be on the low side of the forecast.
It’s going to be VERY cold
It’s a sure thing that temperatures on Friday morning will be quite chilly, with lows near 0F at some mountain locations. The cool air will stick around through Friday with mountain high temperatures in the 20s, and then we’ll see temperatures rise to the 30s on Saturday and the 40s for Sunday into next week.
The next chance for a storm in the western United States should be around Tuesday, October 15th, though this system will likely stay to the north of Colorado.
Then another storm (the remnants of now Super Typhoon Hagibis in the northwest Pacific Ocean) should hit the western United States sometime in the range of Friday, October 18 to Tuesday, October 22.
It’s far too early to know if this storm, which is 10-15 days away, will make a direct hit on Colorado.
Since there is early-season action coming up this week, look for an update from me each morning.
Thanks for reading!
These talks usually range from 30-45 minutes and allow me to show a little of the science behind snow forecasting, 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
If you have a venue in a town not listed above and would like for me to give a presentation this fall, send me an email ([email protected]) and we'll see if we can find a time to make it work!
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