Tuesday was a fun powder day for most central and northern mountains. Wednesday and Thursday will be dry, then the next storm will bring snow on Friday between about midnight and noon. In addition to powder on Friday, we will also deal with strong winds. After that, snow showers could hang around for the weekend, with more snow possible early the following week around December 5-6.
Short Term Forecast
Tuesday morning started with 7-10 inches of powder for most of the far western northern and central mountains and then an additional 2-4 inches of snow accumulated during the morning and midday at most mountains.
The deepest storm totals were around Steamboat, Aspen, and Crested Butte with 10-15 inches, and the snow quality was reasonably fluffy with a bit of density due to the wind.
Below are two powder pics from the central mountains taken on Tuesday morning.
Wednesday & Thursday
Now that the first storm of the week is over, we'll see two dry days on Wednesday and Thursday. Both days should be mostly sunny with a high temperature of around 30 degrees.
Storm on Friday
The next storm will bring snow on Friday and there is finally a reasonable consensus among the forecast models.
Most of the snow should fall between Thursday night at midnight and Friday at noon, so this means that Friday morning's first turns should be powdery with more snow falling during the first half of the day.
For snow totals, even though the brunt of the storm's energy will track to our north and west, we will see solid numbers thanks to abundant moisture in the air. Most forecasts are now showing 4-10 inches across the state.
Like the storm on Tuesday, winds from the west-southwest, west, and west-northwest should favor mountains that are farther to the west and the central mountains, including Steamboat, Beaver Creek, Vail, the Aspen area, Crested Butte (a wind direction from the west-southwest often allows Crested Butte to outperform the forecast), and maybe Monarch (it's often a wildcard and hard to forecast). It appears that the southern mountains will maybe be a hair too far to the south to see the deeper snow totals, but if the storm tracks just a bit farther to the south, the southern mountains could do well also.
The latest high-resolution CAIC model's snow forecast looks reasonable to me and roughly represents a blend of many models.
There is one big caveat to Friday's powder which is that it will be very windy with wind gusts of 40-60+ mph during the first 60-80% of the storm. These windy conditions, as well as warmer temperatures during a lot of the storm, will likely lead to thicker snow quality and cause low visibility, and maybe will delay or close some lifts.
The snow on Friday will end around noon or during the early part of the afternoon, so driving conditions should improve later in the day and around Friday evening, though gusty winds could still cause blowing snow and lower visibility throughout the afternoon after the snow stops falling.
To wrap up the Friday storm, there will be powder during the morning and through midday, and perhaps due to the strong winds causing low visibility and lift delays or closures, there will be untouched powder appearing during Friday afternoon when visibility improves and/or on Saturday morning if the Friday snow is not ridden due to lift or terrain closures.
On Saturday and Sunday, we'll be in between storms, but some moisture and storm energy will cruise over Colorado from the southwest and this could trigger some snow showers during the weekend. I have low confidence in the weekend forecast, though I think for most mountains, it'll be a reasonably quiet two days with more clouds than sunshine.
On Monday and Tuesday, there could be 'sneaky snow' for some parts of the state. During these days, a storm from the west coast will split apart as it tries to track eastward into Colorado. While splitting storms usually do not result in a lot of snow, we might be able to sneak out some fun snow totals thanks to lingering storm energy and moisture that pushes into Colorado in between the pieces of the splitting storm. Stay tuned for more details about Monday and Tuesday – it's still too early to make a confident call.
Beyond Tuesday, December 6, I think we'll see drier weather for a few days, then there could be another chance for a storm sometime in the December 9-13 timeframe, though my confidence is ultra low that far into the future.
Thanks for reading!
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!
- UPDATED: Wed, Dec 7. Silverthorne (The Pad, 491 Rainbow Dr)
- 600pm Doors Open
- 630pm Presentation by Joel Gratz
- Stay tuned if tickets are sold in advance or at the event (all proceeds to FIRC)
- Fri, Dec 9. Basalt (Bristlecone Mountain Sports)
- 700pm Doors Open & Refreshments
- 730pm Presentation by Joel Gratz
- Register here
- Proceeds benefit Roaring Fork Conservancy
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.
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