Thursday morning offered soft snow and powder for most mountains, and snow continued through the day in the southeastern mountains. For Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, most mountains will see dry and chilly weather with a few snow showers in the southern. Then for next week, a storm will bring the first flakes on Monday afternoon with significant accumulations by midweek.
Short Term Forecast
On Thursday, the northern and central mountains started the day with 3-8 inches of powder and picked up 0-3 inches from random snow showers during the morning and the afternoon. Also, the steadiest snow on Thursday was in the southeastern mountains with 12" at Wolf Creek, an estimated 5-10” at Cuchara, and about 5 inches at Monarch.
Speaking of Monarch, they wound up with a 10-inch storm total, the snow that fell on Thursday into Thursday evening looked fluffy on their snow stake.
Now on Friday, the national radar animation shows that snow showers are lingering over far southeastern Colorado and southward into New Mexico (storm total of about 21" at Taos).
On Friday, these showers will keep conditions soft at Wolf Creek and Cuchara. Most other Colorado mountains will see dry and chilly weather with morning temperatures in the single digits and afternoon temperatures in the teens.
Saturday and Sunday will be mainly dry. Saturday will be cooler with high temperatures in the teens and we might see a few afternoon snow showers. Sunday will be warmer with high temperatures in the 20s and it looks unlikely that we will see any snow showers.
Then for next week, we could enjoy snow every day, and I'll write about that in the Extended Forecast section below.
This season is incredible not just for the amount of snow that has fallen across the western U.S., but for the consistency of the snowfall.
And we'll keep the consistency going through at least next week when a slow-moving storm will bring snow starting on Monday afternoon with flakes flying through Thursday or even Friday.
From Monday afternoon through Wednesday, the main wind direction will be from the southwest, and this should deliver the most snow to the southern mountains as well as the far western part of the central and northern mountains. Also during this time early next week, temperatures will be rather warm (in the 20s) and wind speeds will be rather fast, so the snow quality will likely be somewhat dense.
From later Wednesday through Friday, the wind direction should shift to blow more from the west-southwest, west, or west-northwest, and this should allow more snow to fall in the northern and central mountains while snow may continue in the southern mountains. Also, temperatures will become cooler on Thursday and Friday, so the snow quality should turn into fluff on top of soft.
Below is the multi-model average precipitation forecast for Monday, March 20 to Friday, March 24. Mountains in orange and red colors have a good chance of seeing 1-2+ feet of snow, especially from late Monday through early Thursday.
Looking past next week, it is likely that we'll see another storm around the weekend of March 25-26, and then the latest longer-range forecast models show yet another system during the middle of the following week, sometime around Wednesday, March 29.
I have no idea what will happen in April, but it looks pretty likely that the final two weeks of March will be full of storms and more powder. As I've said before, we are lucky to be here and enjoying all of these flakes, as not every season is like this one.
Thanks for reading!
PS - The Colorado Sun wrote about the background of OpenSnow and also made a cheat sheet about which wind directions favor certain 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
Aspen, Sunlight, Monarch, Crested Butte, Irwin, Powderhorn
Telluride, Silverton – north side of the southern mountains | Purgatory, Wolf Creek – south side of the southern mountains