Light-to-moderate smoke will stay in the skies through the rest of the week but it doesn't look like it'll be too bad. The next chance of interesting weather will be Saturday afternoon with gusty winds (please, don't make a fire!) and on Sunday with light rain showers. These showers should continue next week. Then there is an outside chance for a colder storm around the weekend of Sep 26-27.
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Short Term Forecast
It's Wednesday morning, September 16th, and wildfire smoke has returned to the skies of Colorado.
The visible satellite image shows the hazy smoke covering most of the western United States.
This smoke is being forecast pretty well by the High Resolution Rapid Refresh (HRRR) model with light to moderate amounts of smoke pushing from California and the Northwest into Colorado.
You can view the above HRRR smoke forecast for the next 18 hours over on our OpenSummit.com site and app. It's awesome to have this smoke forecast data in an easy-to-view map on your phone – I look at it every morning (ok, I look at it about 10 times a day since it updates hourly).
When we're talking about light to moderate amounts of smoke, it generally looks like this – making the sky look milky white and reducing visibility.
The thickness of the smoke will vary across Colorado, and based on models and cams, it appears that the thickest smoke will be over the northern and eastern mountains.
For the rest of the week, the smoke forecast looks similar to today – not too bad, not too good, with the thickest smoke over the northern and eastern mountains.
While many of our fires here in Colorado have calmed down, there are many big fires that are NOT contained and continue to burn. Last week's snowfall was welcome but it did NOT put out the fires.
Keep this in mind as you head out to enjoy the upcoming weekend because there will be gusty winds on Saturday (30-40 mph) and these winds can quickly whip a small fire into a large fire.
Please please please, no fires, no target practice, etc. The ground is still pretty dry, and a spark plus gusty winds = a big fire. I never try to sound sensational, but I wanted to make sure I emphasized the continued fire danger as many/most of our fires are human-caused and are preventable!
Ok…back to the weather.
Saturday afternoon's winds will be caused by an approaching storm from the Northwest.
This storm will sideswipe Colorado on Saturday night through Sunday. The main impact will be cooler temperatures on Sunday (by 5-10°F) and also a few showers on Saturday night through Sunday. Temperatures will be warm so most areas will see rain showers, though perhaps the very highest peaks could see a dusting of snow from these showers.
Looking ahead to next week, the main word will be "showers". There will be a flow of moisture from the southwest into Colorado and this should create light-to-moderate showers for a lot of the week. These should not be continuous soaking showers, but during most days, it looks like there will at least be a chance of rain.
Temperatures will stay reasonably warm, so most of the showers should fall in the form of rain, though like any showers in September in Colorado, the highest elevations could see snowflakes.
Follow next week's showers, the next chance for a colder and stronger storm might be around the weekend of September 26-27. Only the American GFS model shows this stronger storm while other major models keep that weekend storm weaker and warmer.
Thanks for reading!
PS – The Friends of the Colorado Avalanche Information Center are asking me, you, and all of your friends that ride in the backcountry to take the Forecast Pledge which states:
Before I head into the backcountry this winter, I will check the CAIC Forecast and Danger Rating available at colorado.gov/avalanche
The more people who check the forecast, the more informed your backcountry partners and those sharing the areas around you will be. Please take 15 seconds to take the pledge and spread the word.
Go here to sign your name (I just did) → https://support.friendsofcaic.org/pages/forecast-pledge
And then start dreaming about snowy backcountry scenes like this one, which I (and I'm sure many of you) enjoyed last October 2019.
Steamboat, Granby, Beaver Creek, Vail, Ski Cooper, Copper, Breckenridge, Keystone, Loveland, Arapahoe Basin, 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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