Colorado Daily Snow

Chance for significant snow Monday into Tuesday

Summary

Friday will be dry, then Friday night through Saturday could deliver showers to the central and southern mountains with light accumulations. Sunday will be dry, then from Sunday night through Tuesday morning, there could be moderate-to-significant snow totals with 5-10+ inches for most mountains.

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Short Term Forecast

Now on Friday morning, the radar is showing light returns over the northern mountains though I believe that none of this precipitation is actually making it to the ground (the atmosphere is very dry and any high-elevation drops or flakes are likely evaporating).

The other map that caught my eye now on Friday morning is the 24-hour temperature change. Readings are 5-10°F cooler now on Friday AM compared to Thursday AM across most mountain areas.

Even though temperatures are colder, they are not that cold as readings are still in the upper 20s to low 30s and I cannot find evidence of much or any snowmaking going on this morning. If we aren't going to get natural snow, it would be nice if the atmosphere could deliver air that's cold enough for us to create snow from machines, but that's not the case right now.

Friday & Saturday

Friday will be a dry day.

From Friday night through Saturday midday we've been talking about a weak yet sneaky storm that might drop snow over the mountains near I-70 and south to the central and southern mountains.

This weak system is still possible. But now just 12-24 hours before the event, I have virtually no confidence in the forecast.

The best I can say is that mountains near and south of I-70 have a chance to see anything from a few clouds and a flurry all the way to 2-5 inches of snow. The latest models continue to lower the odds for the higher totals and keep the best chance of measurable snow over the central or southern mountains.

The take-away is that we should expect little or no snow and if we wind up with something, that's a win.

Sunday

The end of the weekend should be dry. We might see snow showers begin in the southern mountains late on Sunday afternoon or Sunday evening.

Sunday Night – Tuesday

Following a week or more of dry weather, I have good news – there is a moderate or significant storm in the forecast!

The storm will begin on Sunday night into Monday morning with thick snow in the southern mountains. Temperatures will be warm and the snow level could be around 10,000 feet.

Then from Monday midday through Tuesday midday, snow should spread across most or all other mountains and temperatures will become colder and the snow will become fluffier.

The latest multi-model forecast from the University of Utah shows a good chance for 10 inches of accumulation in the southern mountains.

Some model runs that I just looked at bring 20 inches to the southern mountains and 5-10 inches to other mountains.

I have moderate to high confidence in this storm since all models are trending toward a similar forecast. 

If the forecast works out, the best chance to enjoy soft snow and/or powder will be on Tuesday. Also, Tuesday's temperatures will be colder which should allow for at least a day of snowmaking across the state.

Extended Forecast

There are some signals in the longer-range forecast that give me a little bit of confidence that we know what's coming towards us over the following week and more.

Following the storm from Monday into Tuesday, we should see dry weather from later Tuesday through Thursday morning (Thanksgiving).

Thanksgiving night into Friday, November 27th is when we should see our next storm. The latest models show that this storm might split as it crosses Colorado. A splitting storm often results in a tough forecast and splotchy snow totals with some mountains getting a lot more than others.

December 2-4 should bring another storm close to Colorado. It's too soon to know the track of this system, but at least we have a storm to look forward to as we head into early December.

Looking further out through most of December, the latest 46-day forecast from the European model shows a trend that I wanted to present. The last version of this same model showed a similar trend, and when multiple model runs are aligned, our confidence in the forecast can increase a little bit.

The maps below present that general weather pattern and do not guarantee the presence or absence of a storm.

For December 1-7, the main area of storminess could be in the far Pacific Northwest.

For December 8-14, the main area of storminess could stay in the Pacific Northwest though there are hints for some storm energy in the southwest as well.

For December 15-21, the model is hinting that storminess could advance south and east, moving toward the west coast and the Rockies.

And for December 22-28, the forecast points toward storminess across the west.

The maps above are NOT showing when we will see a storm.

Instead, the takeaway is that chances for storms are lower during the first half of December and then chances for storms should increase during the second half of December.

The best-case scenario is that we get lucky and see a few storms in early December and then the weather pattern shifts to be in our favor with many storms later in the month. The worst-case scenario is that we get unlucky and miss the early-December storms and then the pattern does not shift in our favor in later December.

We need a few strong systems to deliver multiple feet of snow and get more of our terrain open. Let's hope that comes sooner rather than later.

Thanks for reading!

JOEL GRATZ

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Geography Key

Northern Mountains
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

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

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