Friday will be a stormy day with intense snow through the early afternoon and very strong winds. On Saturday, we could see more snow moving from south to north through the day and into Saturday night. Sunday will be mostly dry. On Monday and Tuesday, a narrow band of snow could produce sneaky powder. Then more snow could fall on Wednesday and Thursday. That's a lot of action!
Short Term Forecast
There is a lot of weather happening now with more on the way for the next week. Let's get to it!
The wind speeds increased on Thursday night with ridge-top gusts reaching 70mph in many places.
On Friday early morning, the fast wind speeds are continuing with gusts of 40-75 mph on the ridges. Also, snow began around 400-500 am at many mountains and as of about 600 am the most snow (3-4 inches) has fallen at Crested Butte where the wind is from a favorable west-southwest direction.
During the day on Friday, expect strong winds and periods of intense snow through the early-to-mid afternoon. Wind gusts will be fast enough that some lifts may be delayed or closed, and snowfall should be in the 4-10 inch range for many mountains with the deepest totals farther to the west and in the central mountains (Steamboat, Vail, Beaver Creek, Sunlight, Aspen area, Crested Butte, maybe Monarch).
Friday will be a tricky day to ride. I love the thrill and the refills of riding during a storm, but the strong winds will likely impact lift operations and will make the snow quality thicker. Perhaps midday to early afternoon will be the best combination of deeper snow and somewhat slowing winds with a chance for more lifts to spin.
Another storm will bring snow on Saturday. I have low confidence in the forecast, but here's what the latest data shows.
From Saturday morning to midday, light snow will fall over the southern and central mountains with maybe a few inches of accumulation.
On Saturday afternoon through Saturday night, the storm will move north and could deliver 2-8 inches to some central and northern mountains. Again I have low confidence in the snow amounts and location.
What this means for riding is that there could be some sneaky soft snow (maybe even enough to call it powder) on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning.
Wind speeds on Saturday and Saturday night will NOT be fast, so the snow quality could be fluffier compared to Friday and there will likely be no issues with lift operations.
The weather should be dry most of the day.
The snowy action will continue next week.
Monday & Tuesday
From Monday through Tuesday, a sneaky storm should produce a narrow band (or bands) of intense snow with possible powder somewhere in the northern and/or central mountains.
This sneaky snow will be created by us being in a lucky position between two storms with lots of moisture streaming into Colorado and the jet stream overhead for 24-48 hours. Moisture is the fuel for snow, and the jet stream can be the spark to turn the moisture into snow.
The forecast snow map below for Monday into Tuesday shows the potential (6-12+ inches) along a narrow band, but we do NOT know where this band will set up. The forecast snow map below could be exactly right, or the band of snow could be north or south of this forecast.
Keep your eye on Tuesday-ish for possible powder in the northern or central mountains.
Wednesday & Thursday
On Wednesday and Thursday, one of the storms that we'll be stuck between on Monday and Tuesday will track over Colorado and should bring us more snow. Again, I have low confidence in the details of this forecast, but I will say that confidence is increasing that snowflakes will be in the air on these days.
It's likely that we'll see another storm around Sat, Dec 10 – Sun, Dec 11 with yet another storm sometime during the following week around Wed, Dec 14 - Fri, Dec 16.
This is a lot of incoming action. Even if all the storms do not bring a lot of snow, having many storms in the forecast tips the odds in our favor of seeing at least decent snow totals, a deepening snowpack, and likely a lot more inbound terrain opening in the next 2+ weeks.
Thanks for reading!
PS - I posted more details below about my talk in Silverthorne on Wed, Dec 6.
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
- UPDATE: Tickets sold out, but have a waitlist.
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