Colorado Daily Snow

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Thursday morning snow update


Wednesday's snow fell mostly in the southern mountains, then on Wednesday night, the storm moved across Colorado and most mountains saw an additional 2-4 inches of accumulation with up to 8 inches at Sunlight. Now on Thursday, we'll see snow showers in the morning, with mostly dry weather from late Thursday through Sunday. Then early next week is when the next storm will hit Colorado.

Short Term Forecast

Wednesday went roughly according to the forecast with dry weather for the northern mountains, a few snow showers for the central mountains, and continued snow in the southern mountains with 2-5 inches of accumulation.

On Wednesday night, the storm moved across Colorado and this resulted in a few hours of snowfall for most mountains. 

As of Thursday morning at 500 am, snow stake cams and snow reports show 2-4 inches of snow for most northern and central mountains and there might be more than this in the southern mountains with SNOTEL sites showing up to about 6 inches.

The standout snow report from Wednesday night is Sunlight where their snow stake cam shows 8 inches of accumulation. The track of the most intense band of precipitation happened to move over Sunlight, which some forecast models hinted at, though this intense band of precipitation could have also tracked just a bit west or east of the mountain.

On Thursday morning, the snow that fell on Wednesday night will be fresh and should create another morning of enjoyable turns.

For the rest of Thursday, we'll see scattered snow showers over the northern and central mountains thanks to the moisture lingering behind the departing storm, and accumulations could be anything from 1-4 inches.

On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, we should see mostly dry weather. There is still a chance for light snow on Friday afternoon and Friday night across the northern and central mountains, though the latest forecast models are mostly decreasing our chances for snow with just a dusting to an inch or two as the most likely snow amounts.

Extended Forecast

The main story next week will be a strong storm that moves across Colorado on Monday and brings cold temperatures and snow showers on Tuesday into Wednesday.

The storm is forecast to strengthen over and just east of Colorado and it will be an impactful system not just for the Rockies but also for the northern great plains states with snow and strong winds.

Here in Colorado, the most likely outcome will be for intense snow on Monday with cold temperatures and snow showers on Tuesday into Wednesday.

Below is the first look at a snow forecast for Monday (December 12). With winds out of the southwest, it makes sense that the southern mountains would be favored for the most snow, while accumulations for the central and northern mountains will be more hit-or-miss dependent on the random placement of intense waves of precipitation. Monday will be a stormy day across the mountains.

From Monday night through Tuesday and Wednesday, the storm will strengthen over the northern great plains and will pull cold air over Colorado with potential single-digit high temperatures on both Tuesday and Wednesday.

The downside to the cold temperatures on Tuesday and Wednesday will be the relatively low moisture that's in the air. Thus, even though the storm will wrap some moisture and snow showers counterclockwise back into Colorado, I am concerned that the cold temperatures and lack of moisture could keep snow totals low on Tuesday and Wednesday.

That pessimism aside, with 48 hours of potential snow showers on Tuesday and Wednesday and a wind from the west or northwest which can favor the central and northern mountains and some parts of the southern mountains, there is a chance that riding conditions turn our pretty good on the backside of the storm due to cold temperatures and consistent light snowfall.

In the coming days, we'll see if there is a better consensus about any Colorado locations that could see more significant snow totals on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Beyond the storm early next week, there should be more storms to talk about though there is no consistency across the models, so we'll give it at least another few days before trying to figure out the weather pattern as we head into the second half of December.

Thanks for reading!

Joel Gratz


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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