Colorado Daily Snow

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Cuchara surprise and light snow Saturday night


Thanksgiving brought deep snow to one part of the state while most other areas saw just a few inches. Friday and Saturday will be dry and mostly sunny. Then on Saturday night, we'll see light snow with a few fresh inches for Sunday morning, and the next storm from Monday night into Tuesday could create a powder day for many areas.

Short Term Forecast

On Wednesday night into Thursday morning, a strengthening storm moved across Colorado and slowed down just southeast of Colorado. The storm delivered a dusting to 2 inches of snow to many mountains.

As the storm slowed down just southeast of Colorado, we were expecting some extra snow over the southeastern mountains and I thought that *maybe* we'd get to high-end single-digit totals if we were lucky.

However, I didn't think that we'd get to the 16-18 inches of fluffy accumulation that was measured at Cuchara, which is a former ski area that is being refurbished with a beginner lift and plentiful opportunities for skinning. Our automated model blend estimated about 11 inches. Our system got the snow-to-liquid ratio of 20-to-1 correct, but under forecast the precipitation, hence the under forecast for snowfall.

Here are the actual measurements.

Now on Friday morning, the storm to the southeast of Colorado is producing rain over Texas and areas of snow over New Mexico. Here in Colorado, we are in the clear with dry weather over Colorado and the Rockies.

Friday and Saturday

The weather Friday and Saturday will be sunny with high temperatures in the 30s.

Saturday Night Snow

Another fast-moving storm will track across Colorado on Saturday night. The fast movement of the storm will limit snowfall totals. But, this storm will bring more moisture to more mountains compared to Wednesday night's storm, so snow totals could be a bit higher, likely in the 1-3 inch range. The snow should start around Saturday at sunset and end by Sunday at sunrise, so there should be a few untouched inches of snow to be enjoyed on Sunday morning.

This storm on Saturday night will NOT be strengthening and slowing as it crosses Colorado, so I do not think that we'll see another 'Cuchara surprise', though some models are hinting at the chance for 3-5+ inches around Steamboat, and with the decent amount of moisture in the air, maybe we will get to the mid-single-digit snow totals at some locations.

Extended Forecast

Following the storm on Saturday night, the weather will be dry on Sunday and Monday.

Then we'll look ahead to two potential storms next week.

The first storm will bring snow from Monday night through Tuesday. The latest forecasts have shifted the track of this storm a bit to the north. This shift has resulted in a decrease in snow totals for the southern mountains and an increase in snow totals for the central mountains. The forecast will continue to shift, but for now, here is the model average precipitation.

If the current forecast for a more west-to-east track holds, this could create a wind direction from the west-southwest and west during a decent time of the storm, which would favor central areas around Crested Butte and Aspen. However, the storm is still five days away and it's too soon to have high confidence in nuances like the exact wind direction.

For now, my thinking is that most mountains will be in the 3-8 inch range with a few spots going above 10 inches, and the best powder will likely be on Tuesday, with Wednesday morning bringing leftover soft snow and very cold temperatures with sunrise low temperatures near or colder than 0°F.

Beyond the Tuesday storm, the weather on Wednesday and Thursday should be dry.

Then on Friday into Saturday (and maybe into Sunday) we'll see a splitting storm move through the Rockies. Splitting storms are generally not big snow producers, but if the storm winds up not splitting apart, or only somewhat splitting apart, we could see more snow.

Looking further ahead to the first full week of December, all of the longer-range models show storminess hanging around the western US, but I have near zero confidence if this will result in snow for us here in Colorado. Stay tuned...

Thanks for reading!

Joel Gratz


Upcoming In-Person Presentations

Join me for in-person presentations this fall. These talks are fun (yes, powder science IS fun:-), and I'll discuss thoughts about the upcoming season and snow forecasting tips and tricks. Also, your attendance at many of these talks supports a local non-profit, so thank you for coming!

    • Tue, Dec 6. Summit County
      - Presentation in the evening
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New Feature: Forecast Anywhere

You can now get a forecast for any location (on land) across the globe, and you can save any of these "Custom Locations" as a favorite. 

Any "Custom Location" comes with estimated 24-hour snowfall. This means that you can set a "Custom Location" for your favorite backcountry spot and get estimated snowfall and estimated snowfall history. Since most backcountry areas do not have snow measurement equipment located at that exact spot, this feature will be a useful way to get a general estimate of how much snow has fallen.

And, "Custom Locations" are private and no other OpenSnow users will be able to see the "Custom Locations" that you create.

You can learn more about Forecast Anywhere in this short how-to article.

Geography Key

Northern Mountains
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

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