Colorado Daily Snow

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By Joel Gratz, Founding Meteorologist Posted 2 months ago December 8, 2023

Friday morning powder for some northern and central mountains

Summary

The first wave of snow on Thursday night delivered 1-6 inches of accumulation to some northern and central mountains, and this should create fun, soft conditions on Friday morning. From Friday late morning through Friday night, additional showers will bring 1-4+ inches of snow, which should keep conditions on the soft side. After that, it will be a while until we see another significant storm.

Short Term Forecast

Thursday was dry at most mountains, though a narrow band of snow hung together, delivering 1-2 inches of snow to the Steamboat area and other far-northern mountains.

On Thursday night, we were expecting a band of snow for the west-central mountains closer to dawn on Friday morning. In reality, the narrow band of snow over Steamboat on Thursday afternoon sagged south and dropped a quick 2-4 inches on a few mountains along the I-70 corridor during the evening, and then the band that we expected to form did so and delivered another few inches in very early morning hours.

This all created decent snow totals now as the sun rises on Friday, with the highest amounts mostly in places that we expected - in the western part of the northern and central mountains. The exception was at Winter Park, which nabbed 6 inches, mostly from the initial poorly forecasted band of snow on Friday evening.

Below are the snow reports as of Friday morning at about 500am. Snow continues to fall in the central mountains, so these numbers might increase before lifts open.

Northern Mountains

6” Vail
6” Winter Park
4” Beaver Creek
4” Copper
3” Keystone
2” Breckenridge
2” Loveland
2” Steamboat
1” Cooper
1” Eldora

Central Mountains

6” Aspen Highlands
6” Aspen Mountain
6” Snowmass
5” Buttermilk
5” Powderhorn
3” Crested Butte
1” Monarch
1” Sunlight

On Friday morning, we'll see a lull in the northern mountains, snow likely ending in the central mountains, and light accumulations across the northern San Juan mountains as the band of snow sags south.

From Friday late morning through Friday afternoon, the second phase of the storm will move through with randomly placed and possibly intense snow squalls which should deliver another 1-4 inches of accumulation across the northern and central mountains. Temperatures on Friday will be in the teens with light-ish winds.

On Friday night, moisture will wane, but we could see some of the snow squalls from Friday afternoon persist for a few hours after the sunsets, so this could provide a slight refresh/softening that is ready for Saturday morning.

East of the divide, there will likely be a few-hour period of intense snow on Friday evening, centered mostly along the foothills west and southwest of the Denver metro area, so if you're a front-ranger heading to the mountains on Friday evening, maybe consider leaving a little earlier (closer to sunset?) or at least keeping an eye on this.

Saturday will be dry and cold with high temperatures in the upper single digits to low teens, and clouds could stick around for many northern and central mountains. Snow conditions should be reasonably soft and fun due to the snow from Friday and Friday night.

Extended Forecast

From Sunday through Friday, the good news is that we'll be in a cool weather pattern with high temperatures in the 20s, and combined with a low sun angle, this will keep our snowpack in decent shape.

The bad news is that I do not see any significant storms during this upcoming week.

On Sunday and Monday, the northern mountains should see snow showers with low-end accumulations, and sometime around Thursday, a storm to our south could push snow showers into the state, with the best chance for accumulations across the southern mountains.

The longer-range forecast continues to show a pretty high chance for a storm in the December 18-20 window, so we'll keep an eye on that and hope that the storm produces decent snow for most mountain areas.

I do continue to peek into the 15+ day forecast to see if there is any hope for a stormier period, and there is still a signal toward a more active weather pattern for the Rockies starting late in December, but this is out in fantasy land, so I have low to zero confidence and I mention it mostly because I bet you - like me - are hoping for a more consistently snowy forecast rather than the one-and-done moderate storms that we see coming up through mid-month.

Our snowpack is in decent shape (~80% of the median across the state), more inbounds terrain is opening, and the backcountry is ridable for sure (always consult the CAIC forecast), so it's not all bad news, but I am hoping for (not necessarily forecasting) a few more significant storms before we end the year.

Thanks for reading!

Joel Gratz

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Geography Key

Northern Mountains
Steamboat, 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, Snowmass, 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

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About Our Forecaster

Joel Gratz

Founding Meteorologist

Joel Gratz is the Founding Meteorologist of OpenSnow and has lived in Boulder, Colorado since 2003. Before moving to Colorado, he spent his childhood as a (not very fast) ski racer in eastern Pennsylvania.

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