What a season. It started strong and the flakes keep flying. Not every season is like this, with a solid base and consistent storms, and we should be thankful for what we have, and for what's likely to come! Speaking of which, expect snow to continue through Friday night, then we'll see light snow on Monday morning, a stronger storm around Jan. 11-12, and a stormy week from Jan. 16-20.
Short Term Forecast
Thursday was a dry day across Colorado. Dry days have been a relative rarity and sometimes it's nice to take a breath and dig out between storms.
I mentioned this in the Summary section above, and I'll mention it here – I am feeling thankful and lucky to have the base that we do, snow from the current storm, and the next few storms in the forecast. If you just moved to Colorado, or if you only ride here occasionally, I want to point out that this consistency of storms is not something that happens every season. And if you've lived here or ridden here for a while, I bet that you're appreciating that we're in the midst of a special early-to-mid season. With my mind constantly thinking about the 'next storm', I wanted to take a moment to be thankful for what we have.
Ok, on to the active forecast!
Thursday's quiet weather didn't last long, as the next storm started to drop snow across western and southern Colorado on Thursday night into Friday morning.
Already on Friday morning, southern mountain snowfall totals are in the 3-5 inch range near Silverton, Purgatory, and Wolf Creek, and in the central mountains, snowfall totals are about 3 inches at Crested Butte and about 1 inch around Aspen.
Friday's storm will bring solid snowfall to the southern and central mountains throughout the day with another 3-5 inches likely through mid-afternoon and soft/fun/powder conditions by midday and afternoon. This is more than most models showed and that's a good thing. For the northern mountains, snow should ramp up later in the afternoon though I don't know that there will enough new snow to create powder conditions by Friday's last chair.
On Friday night, the storm will slowly strengthen over eastern Colorado and the wind direction will switch from blowing from the southwest and west-southwest to blowing from the west and west-northwest. This will shift the focus for snow to the central mountains (near and north of Aspen) and to the northern mountains. Snowfall will continue for these mountains on Friday night and then end around Saturday morning's first chair.
Total snowfall in the southern mountains should be 4-8+ inches and the central and northern mountains should wind up with 5-10 inches. Some versions of the higher-resolution local models have shown amounts up to 15 inches at Steamboat, and this passes the logic test since a wind from the west-northwest on Friday night is the perfect wind direction for Steamboat.
The timing of the storm means that Friday will offer the best powder in the southern mountains, and the central and northern mountains will see the best powder on Saturday morning's first chair, with snow quality being rather fluffy thanks to temperatures that will cool into the right zone for the atmosphere to produce dendrite snowflakes on Friday night.
After the snow stops on Saturday morning, we should see dry weather for the rest of Saturday and Sunday. Skies will be partly sunny during this time with some high-and-mid-level clouds passing through.
Next week will offer less storminess than the previous week and the following week, but in the theme of this winter season so far, we'll still have chances for snow.
The first chance for snow will be on Monday morning across the northern mountains. Totals should be light at just a few inches.
The second chance for snow will start on Tuesday with snow showers and light accumulations, then we should see a period of more intense snow from Wednesday into Thursday morning. My early estimate is that most mountains will see 4-10 inches of snow from Wednesday into Thursday, with the southern and central mountains favored for powder on Wednesday and the northern mountains favored for powder on Thursday morning. Since this is a five to six-day forecast, the details will likely change, so stay tuned.
Then, as we can see on the right-hand side of the graphic above, most of the 51 versions of the European model (each horizontal line is a different version) show a stormy period starting around January 15-16, continuing through the week, and maybe letting up around January 20.
Below is another view of the potential stormy weather from about January 16-20 with the blue area over the western U.S. and Rockies showing the storminess.
It's still too soon to discuss the details for the week of January 16-20, but at least it looks like it'll be active with multiple chances for snow. What more can we ask for?!
Thanks for reading!
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