This week will bring new snow to most mountains on many days, but it'll be a week of nuances as only certain mountains will be favored for deeper snow on certain days. Snowfall through Thursday could be 8-24 inches across the state. The next chance for a storm will then be later in the weekend through early the following week (Dec 11-13) with an active pattern continuing into mid-December.
Short Term Forecast
Community talks: Wed, Dec 7 in Silverthorne, Fri, Dec 9 in Basalt.
Sunday was mostly cloudy and dry across Colorado with just a few snow showers and flurries.
Now on Monday, we will start three to four days of a complex forecast with the potential for a lot of snow.
Monday's snowfall will favor Steamboat. It'll be a game of just a few miles to see if a cold front can stall near or over the mountain. If it does, we'll see more snow. If it stays just north of the mountain, we'll see less snow.
Elsewhere, a lot of moisture in a west-southwest wind should produce snow showers and maybe somewhat deeper accumulations around Crested Butte and the western parts of the Aspen area which are favored by winds from the west-southwest.
The cold front near Steamboat should push south just a bit and there will be an increased chance for more intense snow at Steamboat due to cooling temperatures and a favorable wind direction from the west and west-northwest.
Farther south, a narrow band of snow could form from anywhere near I-70 southward to Aspen and Crested Butte. I have VERY LOW CONFIDENCE about where this band of snow will set up.
Tuesday morning should start with powder at Steamboat.
Tuesday morning throughout the day should also see the snow get deeper along I-70 and into the central mountains thanks to the narrow band (or bands) of snow and a lot of moisture in the air.
Tuesday afternoon or evening is when more intense snow should begin for the southern mountains.
Wednesday morning could offer powder for the I-70 and central mountains depending on how long the snow lasts on Tuesday into Tuesday night.
Wednesday morning through afternoon could be the deepest in the southern mountains thanks to a lot of moisture and a favorable wind direction from the southwest.
One more round of snow on Wednesday night should add at least a few inches to our snow totals and that would create soft and/or powder conditions on Thursday morning at most mountains across Colorado.
I have VERY LOW CONFIDENCE in the details of the maps below as the snow forecast is sensitive to the forecast for the exact location of a stalled cold front and the narrow bands of snow on Monday and Tuesday.
The snow forecast maps are from Monday morning through Thursday morning.
First, the high-resolution OpenSnow forecast model.
Second, the high-resolution CAIC forecast model.
At first glance, these maps show reasonably similar numbers with most mountains getting at least 6-8 inches and many in the 10-20 inch range through Thursday morning.
Snowfall could be HIGHER than these maps due to a LOT of moisture in the air and the possibility for narrow bands of intense snow thanks to the stalled cold front and the jet stream overhead, as well as an extended period of winds from the west-southwest which can favor some central mountains as well as the higher elevations of Summit County.
Snowfall could be LOWER than these maps due to some mountains being unlucky and just missing the narrow bands of intense snow.
In addition to the powder potential this week, the good news is that a storm like this, with widespread significant snow totals and potentially thicker snow quality due to warmer temperatures, can help in building our base for the season.
Beyond this week's storm, it now appears that the potential storm around the weekend of December 10-11 is going to be somewhat delayed with just a lower chance for snow during the weekend and a higher chance for snow from later Sunday through Tuesday, December 11-13.
After that, another storm is likely later in the week, around December 14-18, but that's too far away to make it worthwhile for us to discuss any details.
Thanks for reading!
P.S. Tuesday, December 6 is Colorado Gives Day! On this statewide day of giving, join us in supporting avalanche safety and education by donating to Friends of CAIC. We are proud to partner with Friends of CAIC to help keep our community safe. Donate today, and your gift will be doubled thanks to a $30k match. You will also be entered to win a Dynafit Free INFINIUM Jacket and Pants.
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!
- 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 there is 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