Thursday will be another dry day, then a storm on Friday will bring snow to most mountains with powder possible during the first half of the day on Friday. For the weekend, there could be additional snow accumulations (low confidence), and then early next week will bring yet more snow on Monday and Tuesday.
Short Term Forecast
Following the storm on Tuesday, we saw sunny and gorgeous weather on Wednesday. Here is the view of the Maroon Bells from near the summit of Aspen Highlands. The mountains are looking good!
Thursday will be similar to Wednesday with mostly sunny skies and a high temperature of around 30 degrees.
Storm on Friday
We are still expecting snow to begin around Thursday at midnight and continue through Friday early afternoon with all snow ending by Friday around sunset. Compared to earlier forecasts, the latest models keep the snow falling a little bit longer into Friday afternoon.
The positives of this storm are abundant moisture, strong storm energy, the jet stream overhead, and a wind direction varying from southwest to west-southwest to west, and even west-northwest, which will be favorable for many mountains at different times during the storm.
The negatives of this storm are the very strong winds and somewhat warm temperatures.
Putting that all together, I think 5-10 inches is still a responsible forecast for many mountains and this storm should favor western and central mountains which will be similar to the Tuesday storm (Steamboat, Vail and Beaver Creek, Aspen area, Crested Butte, with Monarch and the southern mountains as more wildcards).
While the snow should be plentiful on Friday, perhaps the bigger story will be the strong wind gusts of 40-70+ mph on Friday morning. Areas in yellow and red show the strongest winds around sunrise on Friday.
Due to the strong winds and warmer temperatures, the snow quality will likely be on the thicker side to start the day on Friday, though by Friday midday, the snow quality should become fluffier due to slowing (not slow) winds and cooling temperatures.
I think Friday will offer fun storm day riding with powder to start the day and refills through about noon or early afternoon. Also, if any lifts are closed due to the fast wind speeds, there could be untouched snow on Friday afternoon or even Saturday morning after the storm moves away.
Following the Friday storm, Saturday and Sunday will be mixed.
I have high confidence that the weekend will be mostly cloudy as moisture streams into Colorado from the southwest. I have low confidence in potential snow amounts, as flakes could fall anytime from Saturday morning-ish through Sunday morning-ish for many mountains. Right now I am thinking that many mountains could get a few inches on Saturday into Sunday thanks to weak storm energy combined with a LOT of moisture. Whenever there is a LOT of moisture in the air, I am always mindful that there could be more snow than is in the forecast since moisture is the fuel for the atmosphere to create snow.
Then on Monday and Tuesday, we will likely get lucky as storm energy to our north and storm energy to our southwest somewhat combine over Colorado and should bring decent snow totals to some northern and central mountains. I am keeping an eye on later Monday and early Tuesday for possible powder though I still have low confidence in this forecast.
Heading deeper into December, there are some hints that we could see another storm around December 9-10 (+/- a day or two) with another storm around December 14-15 (+/- a day or two).
Right now, our snowpack is close to average, and with storms in the forecast, our snowpack should stay around or just above average heading through early-to-mid December. We're in a pretty good spot.
Thanks for reading!
PS - Below, I posted updated information about my talk in Summit County next week, which is now on Wednesday, December 7. Hope to see you there!
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
- Buy tickets here. The entire $10 ticket cost will be donated to the local non-profit 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