Colorado Daily Snow

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Another round


Saturday's snow was deep in the northern mountains with 3-5 inches of accumulation on top of the snow that fell on Friday night. Heading into Sunday, most mountains will see a break in the snow, then another round of potentially intense snow could fall from late Sunday night through Tuesday morning.

Short Term Forecast

Saturday was a fun powder day across the northern mountains with double-digit snow totals reported at 5:00 a.m. on Saturday morning and an additional 3-5 inches accumulating through Saturday midday.

Before getting to the forecast for Sunday and beyond, I wanted to mention that I didn't include a very deep report in my previous post as I hadn't seen an update when I hit "Submit". Bluebird Backcountry reported 16 inches of new snow which aligns with other deep totals across the northern mountains.

Speaking of the northern mountains, the summit snow stake at Steamboat is getting buried this season, including another 8 inches of accumulation on Saturday into Saturday evening. For many days and many seasons, the atmosphere can a bit stingy with snowfall here in Colorado, but sometimes the atmosphere seems to want to snow, and this is just one of those seasons at Steamboat. This is something to cherish since it doesn't happen all the time. We are truly fortunate to get to play in the snow that the atmosphere is delivering at Steamboat, across a lot of Colorado, and across most of the western U.S.

On Saturday night into Sunday morning, most of the snow should shut off as storm energy moves away to the east and the wind blows from the southwest which is not favorable for the northern mountains. Areas near and north of Steamboat may continue to see snow as some storm energy lingers in this area.

Then, starting around Sunday midday, a narrow band of intense snow should form over the far northern mountains, somewhere around the Steamboat area. This narrow band will slowly move to the south on Sunday night, Monday, Monday night, and finally, it should exit the southern mountains on Tuesday.

The narrow band of snow will be created by the jet stream, the core of which will move from north to south across Colorado. The jet stream is a narrow band of fast winds at around 30,000-35,000 feet above sea level, and this area of strong wind can create a singular band of intense precipitation or multiple bands of intense precipitation.

As we saw on Friday night when the jet stream created a few narrow bands of intense snow which dropped 1-2+ inch-per-hour snowfall rates and sent the real-life snow accumulation well above the forecast range, these bands can create a lot of snow in a short amount of time.

For snow totals from Sunday midday through Tuesday evening, a general 4-10 inch forecast is about the best I can do at the moment. If the band(s) of snow are weaker or miss certain mountains, the snowfall could be on the lower end of the range, and if the bands of snow stall over a certain area, accumulations could be well above 10 inches.

For snow timing, the northern mountains will have the best chance for powder during the day on Monday and maybe for the first chair on Tuesday morning. The central mountains could see the best powder on Tuesday, and the southern mountains should also have powder on Tuesday with soft/fresh snow lingering into Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning.

Extended Forecast

Following the snowfall on Monday and Tuesday, we will see dry weather on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

Then during the weekend of February 4-5, there will be a chance for some snow, though my expectations are pretty low. Somewhere in the range of 30-50% of the ~100 versions of the major forecast models show some snow, so there's a chance for a bit of a refresh, but it's too soon to talk about snow amounts.

Following the lower chance for a storm around February 4-5, there will be a higher chance for a storm around February 7-9. For this system, most of the ~100 versions of the major forecast models show snow, so we'll keep an eye on this system.

Below is the weather pattern for February 7 with the blue colors showing the potential storm.

And for a more complete view, the graphic below shows the precipitation forecast for the central mountains from each of the 31 versions of the American GEFS forecast model. Each horizontal line is one of the 31 versions, and time increases from the present day on the left to 16 days in the future on the right. The more green and blue colors that are vertically stacked on the graphic, the higher our confidence is in more significant snowfall.

Thanks for reading!

Joel Gratz


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