Colorado Daily Snow

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Bonus Snow

Summary

The storm on Friday night delivered double-digit snowfall to the far northern mountains (as expected) as well as some mountains near I-70 (which was a bonus). On Saturday, there will be lingering snow across the north, on Sunday we could see a break, then from Monday into Tuesday, snow should return to most mountains with 3-10 inch totals and possible powder days.

Short Term Forecast

Friday started primarily dry, then on Friday afternoon, the northern mountain storm ramped up with a couple of inches falling before lifts closed. On Friday night, the storm delivered intense snowfall across all northern mountains.

Going into this storm, we had high confidence in deep totals in the far northern mountains, including Steamboat and Eldora, and both of those mountains reported double-digit snowfall. A bit farther to the south along I-70, we had low confidence in the snow forecast as this area was on the edge of the intense snow to the north and less snow to the south. What happened in real life was that the atmosphere looked favorably upon these mountains and brought intense snow for a couple of hours with 9-13 inch totals.

Below are the 24-hour snow totals from Friday morning at 5:00 a.m. through Saturday morning at 5:00 a.m.

Northern Mountains

14" Steamboat Summit
13" Winter Park
12" Vail Mid-Mountain
10" Steamboat Mid-Mountain
10" Eldora (15"+ on the snow stake cam)
9" Beaver Creek
9" Breckenridge
9" Copper
6" A-Basin
4" Keystone
4" Loveland
3" Cooper

Central Mountains

8" Crested Butte
5" Sunlight
4" Monarch
2" Snowmass

Southern Mountains

2" Silverton

Here's a deep snow stake picture from Vail's mid-mountain cam.

While the deeper snow totals along I-70 were a pleasant but not completely unexpected happening, the 8 inches at Crested Butte were completely unexpected (by me, at least:-). I think what happened was that the storm energy was mostly well to the north of Crested Butte, but the wind direction from the west-southwest was favorable, and this favorable wind direction brought the snow. Just to the north of Crested Butte is Aspen, and they only recorded about 2 inches of snow, even though there were higher totals to the north and the south. Aspen usually does not benefit from a wind from the west-southwest, at least compared to Crested Butte, and the stronger storm energy stayed to the north of Aspen, so Aspen was in an 'in-between' situation. 

Saturday

There will be powder during first chair across the northern mountains.

Through the rest of the day, there will be snow showers, mainly across the northern and central mountains, and these showers could deliver 2-5 additional inches of snow.

Saturday Night & Sunday

We will be in between storms and the wind direction will switch from the west to blowing from the southwest. This should end most of the snowfall, though snow could continue closer to the Wyoming border, likely north of Steamboat.

Sunday Night & Monday

The next storm will split as it moves toward Colorado, and while a splitting storm generally isn't a good thing for snowfall, in this case, the jet stream will be overhead and this should create a narrow band of intense snow that slowly moves from north-to-south across Colorado.

From Sunday night through Monday, intense snow could fall starting at Steamboat with some powder on Monday, then the intense snow could move south toward the other northern mountains as well as the central and southern mountains. I think the northern and central mountains could see decent snowfall on Monday with maybe low-end powder amounts by Monday's last chair.

Monday Night & Tuesday

The intense band of snow should sag from north to south with powder possible in the northern and central mountains for first chair on Tuesday, and powder maybe getting deeper through the day for the southern mountains, with southern-mountain powder sticking around through Wednesday morning.

Total snowfall from Sunday night through Tuesday night could be 3-10+ inches. It's a wide range because I have low confidence in the details of where this narrow band of intense snow will set up.

Extended Forecast

Once the splitting storm moves away on Tuesday night into Wednesday, we'll see a couple of days of dry weather from February 1-6. There is a chance for some snow during the weekend of February 4-5, though multiple versions of the American GEFS and European Ensemble models only give us about a 15-30% chance of seeing moderate snow totals, so for now, I am keeping my expectations low.

The dry(ish) weather from February 1-6 won't last long, though, as most versions of most longer-range weather forecast models show us heading back into a stormier weather pattern between about February 6-10.

Looking at the 51 versions of the European ensemble model, we can see the lower chances for snowfall around February 4-5, and the higher chances for snowfall around February 8(ish).

Thanks for reading!

Joel Gratz

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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