Colorado Daily Snow

Looking ahead

Summary

Saturday’s exiting storm dropped 1-7 inches on the central and northern mountains. Now on Sunday, we’ll have a cold start with dry and warming weather throughout the day. Monday will also be dry, then on Monday night, we’ll see light snow in the northern mountains. The next storm will be on Wednesday night and Thursday with a few inches for all mountains and deeper totals in the southern mountains. After that, we’ll watch for a storm late next weekend (December 8-9) and again toward the middle of December.

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Short Term Forecast

Saturday’s Recap

We saw strong winds, cold temperatures, and snow showers throughout the day on Saturday. The deepest totals were at Wolf Creek with 7 inches and Steamboat with 5 inches. Most other mountains were in the 1-3 inch range.

A Quick Word about Snow Measurements

Saturday morning brought big snow to Telluride, but there was an error in the initial reporting.

On Saturday at 6 am, Telluride posted a report of 3”. This was clearly a mistake because the 24-hour snow stake cam time-lapse showed 10-11” on the stake, and their automated snow reporting stations showed 10-12”. On the Colorado Daily Snow on Saturday morning, I mentioned the higher total around 10-11”.

Then on Saturday at around 9 am, Telluride updated the snow report on their website to 19”. This was closer to what I expected (compared to the initial incorrect report of 3”) though it did seem a little high compared to the other on-mountain sources I mentioned above.

So I checked nearby SNOTEL sites, and the depth sensor on Lizard Head Pass showed about 14-15 inches and the depth sensor on Red Mountain Pass showed 13-14”. But the depth sensors often underestimate snowfall, and so I looked at the usually-more-accurate measurement of snow-water-equivalent, which yielded at least 20 inches if not a little more. And so this data gave more corroboration to the 19” report at Telluride.

This is a long way of saying that snow measurements can vary within a close distance and by the type of measurement device, and also that the snow reports we show here on OpenSnow come from the ski areas, we do not control these numbers, and sometimes resorts initially make mistakes with their reporting. If a snow report does not look right to you, or even if it does, it’s good practice to double-check the snow stake cams and nearby SNOTEL sites.

Anyway, I hope that anyone in the southern mountains enjoyed the 12-25+ inches from this storm:-)

Sunday and This Week

Sunday’s weather will start cold with temperatures in the single digits and we’ll warm into the 20s with lots of sunshine. We are in between storms with one system over the eastern two-thirds of the US and another system over the west coast.

Monday will also be a dry day.

On Monday night into Tuesday morning., a weak storm could bring very light snow to the northern mountains. The best chance for 1-3 inches will be around Steamboat and near and north of I-70.

Other than this weak storm in the northern mountains, we should be dry on Tuesday and Wednesday.

From Wednesday night through Thursday, a slightly stronger storm with more moisture should track across the southern mountains. I expect a few inches at all mountains and 4-8+ inches in the southern mountains, with the best chance for soft snow on Thursday morning.

Then after dry weather from late Thursday through late Saturday, a storm of weak-to-moderate strength could bring snow to all mountains from Saturday night through Monday (December 7-9).

The University of Utah's multi-model forecast shows these three systems (Monday night, Wednesday night, Saturday night).

First, here is the forecast for the northern mountains. Notice that the wide range of outcomes for Wednesday night – there is some upside potential.

The forecast for the southern mountains shows nothing on Monday night (the storm will track too far to the north) with a tighter range for Wednesday night showing deeper totals of 4-8+ inches.

The third storm, from Saturday night through Monday might split as it nears Colorado which means that I am keeping my snowfall expectations on the low side for now.

Extended Forecast

We are still looking ahead to a possible system late in the week or over the weekend around December 12-15. I still have very low to zero confidence about this storm and I will keep an eye on the 15-day outlook and let you know when we get a bit more certainty in the forecast.

Thanks for reading!

My next update will be on Monday morning.

JOEL GRATZ

PS – I have two more talks on my schedule and I hope to see some of you at one of them (listed below)!

Announcements

Upcoming talks

These talks are usually 45 minutes and allow me to show a little of the science behind snow forecasting, have some fun, and answer lots of questions.

* Breckenridge: Dec 6 @ Colorado Mountain College Breckenridge
- Startup Weekend Kickoff Event
- 530 Dinner & Networking
- 630 My presentation discussing BOTH business & weather 
- 730 Startup Weekend Kickoff
- 830 Wrap up
- Tickets $25 includes dinner with a portion of proceeds donated to local non-profits
- See the event overview and buy tickets

* Basalt: Dec 12 @ Bristlecone Mountain Sports
- 700-730 Light refreshments
- 730-830 Presentation + Q&A
- Tickets are $10/person (proceeds benefit Roaring Fork Conservancy)
- More details
- Purchase a ticket in advance (might sell out)

Geography Key

Northern Mountains
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

Central Mountains
Aspen, Sunlight, Monarch, Crested Butte, Irwin, Powderhorn

Southern Mountains
Telluride, Silverton – north side of the southern mountains | Purgatory, Wolf Creek – south side of the southern mountains