Multiple storms will move through Colorado between Friday and Tuesday. The deepest snow total should be in the far northern mountains with more than two feet and powder days likely on Saturday and Monday. Other mountains should also see snow with 4-12 inches of accumulation and possible powder on Saturday and Monday into Tuesday.
Short Term Forecast
This is a lot going on in the atmosphere and I want to start with a brief recap of the week before getting into the forecast for Friday and the weekend.
It was a chilly three days on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday with high temperatures in the +5 to +15°F range. The northern mountains saw mostly light snow during these days, and Steamboat outperformed the forecast with 12 inches of snow at mid-mountain.
Then from Thursday midday through Thursday night, the energy associated with the light snow on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday moved away, and a new batch of energy moved into northern Colorado. This new energy delivered 1-2 inches of snow to most northern mountains, and once again, Steamboat outperformed the forecast with 5 inches at mid-mountain and 9 inches at the summit.
Snowfall on Friday morning may be limited, with the best chance for snow around Steamboat. Then from Friday midday/afternoon through Saturday afternoon, the next round of storm energy will move across the northern mountains and should create periods of more intense snowfall with 1-2 feet of accumulation close to the Wyoming border and 3-7+ inches for other northern and central mountains.
Two days ago, most weather forecast models showed a high chance for snow across the far northern models, but the American GFS model was the outlier with little snow for all mountains. However, it appears that the American GFS model's drier forecast was just a hiccup as the model has now fallen in line with the other models and shows plentiful snowfall across the far northern mountains.
When thinking about the latest forecast data from a model consensus standpoint, it's fine – all models now generally agree that areas north of I-70 will see the most snow (Steamboat, Bluebird Backcountry, Cameron Pass, Eldora and the Indian Peaks) and other northern and central mountains could see the 'scraps' of the storm with perhaps 3-7+ inches (I have lower confidence about the snow totals near and south of I-70).
The snow forecast above is the multi-model average from Friday morning through Saturday afternoon. I have the highest confidence in the snow forecast for areas north of I-70, and I have lower confidence for areas near and south of I-70 as this will be the area that's on the fringe of the storm and anything can happen from low snowfall of fewer than 4 inches to surprisingly high snowfall of greater than 7 inches. The best chance for the deepest fresh snow for all northern and central mountains will be around the last chair on Friday and the first chair through midday or early afternoon on Saturday.
Following the storm on Friday through Saturday, we could see a brief break in the weather on Saturday night into Sunday morning, and the far northern mountains may continue to see snow during this time.
Then from Sunday afternoon/evening through Tuesday, the next storm will move into Colorado. This storm will be tricky to forecast because it will split before moving into Colorado with one piece of storm energy heading to our north and one piece heading to our south. The latest forecast models now generally agree that the combination of storm energy and the placement of the jet stream (at 30,000 feet above sea level) will create a narrow band of intense snow, first hitting the northern mountains from later Sunday through Monday, then hitting the central and southern mountains from Monday into Tuesday. It is possible that Monday will offer some powder for the northern and western mountains, with the central and southern mountains seeing a better chance for powder on Tuesday.
Following the snowfall this weekend and through early next week, we will likely begin a quieter weather pattern into early February. There is a chance for snow during the first weekend of February (Feb. 4-5) as well as a higher chance for snow during the following week (Feb 8-9), however, at this point, neither system appears significant. We'll follow both of these potential storms during the next few days as they move closer.
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