Wednesday through Monday will be mostly dry and warm, though on Sunday there will be a chance for a few flakes and slightly cooler temperatures. Our next chances for real snowfall will be around Tuesday, December 7, and Saturday, December 11. Both of these storms could bring significant snow.
Short Term Forecast
This week's weather is just more of the same – mostly sunny skies, warm daytime highs in the 30s and 40s, and overnight lows that are marginally supportive of snowmaking conditions.
The only nuance to this forecast is that Thursday through Saturday will be a few degrees warmer, and Sunday will be a few degrees colder as a storm passing by to our north drags cooler air over the northern mountains.
We're ending the month of November with a snowpack that's about 35-85% of average across the higher elevations. It feels dire. But have we seen low-snow years before?
Below are graphics showing weather data for the town of Steamboat Springs, which has weather history dating back 100+ years. This is my source for historical weather data.
Looking at total snowfall from October 1 to November 28 during the past 100 years, there is no strong trend. This year (on the far right) happens to be one of the lower years.
For high temperatures from October 1 to November 28 during the last 100+ years, there is also not a strong trend one way or the other.
However, for low temperatures from October 1 to November 28 during the last 100+ years, there is a very strong upward trend of 5+°F with roughly half of this upward trend coming in the last 50 years.
The data above is from just one weather station in Colorado, though I looked at a few other weather stations with long histories and found roughly similar data (little or no trend in early-season snowfall but a real upward trend in early-season low temperatures).
Hopefully, this provides a little perspective on what we're seeing so far this season.
Coming up, we finally have something exciting to talk about.
The potential storm on Tuesday, December 7 is holding together in the models. While some of the storm's energy may split and not track directly over Colorado, there could be enough moisture to yield significant snow totals.
Below is the model average precipitation forecast, and many mountain areas in Colorado are in the dark green or blue colors, which signifies 0.5+ inches of precipitation or 6+ inches of snow.
The storm is still 6-7 days away, so it's too early to start talking about the details of the forecast, but I'm thankful that it looks like we'll see at least decent snow from the storm on the 7th.
Beyond that, most models show another significant storm around Saturday, December 11th. If it happens, it would be wonderful to see two storms within five days next week, and that could help to increase our snowpack and open up more terrain.
Thanks for reading!
PS – Scientists need your help to collect precipitation observations during winter. Join the community, and during winter storms, share what type of precipitation is falling from the sky. To sign up, text COrainsnow to 855-909-0798. You’ll receive 3 intro texts over the first 3 days, including the first one sharing the web app so you can send your observations. This is a NASA-funded project led by Lynker, the Desert Research Institute, and the University of Nevada, Reno.
Steamboat, Bluebird Backcountry, 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