Colorado Daily Snow

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By Joel Gratz, Founding Meteorologist Posted 2 months ago February 6, 2024

Snow from Tuesday night to Saturday night

Summary

Monday was dry with increasing clouds. Tuesday will be a transition day as the storm approaches and we will see some snow over the southern mountains. Then from Tuesday night to Saturday night, a series of storms will bring snow to all mountains. Snow totals should be 20-40+ inches in the south, 15-30 inches for the central mountains, and 6-12 inches elsewhere. Then next week will be drier.

Short Term Forecast

Sunday

As a recap, Sunday was a fantastic day across Colorado with fluffy snow on a soft base, blue skies, and light winds.

Below are two reader-submitted pictures from the weekend storm.

The Vail Back Bowls:

Irwin Catskiing:

Irwin is about 8 miles west of Crested Butte and had a storm total of 37 inches, 4x more than at Crested Butte ski area.

Almost 15 years ago, when I was just starting Colorado Powder Forecast (which was the predecessor to OpenSnow), I was contacted by the folks at Irwin who were reporting high snow totals when I did not think that the wind direction (from the northwest) would favor that area of the central mountains.

It turns out that the area around Irwin and the West Elk Mountains can get a lot of snow with nearly any wind direction, and for this storm, some of the high-resolution models showed a chance for 2+ feet of snow, which was still too low.

Monday

Monday was dry across Colorado, with more sunshine in the morning and more clouds in the afternoon.

Upcoming Storm

The storm will move through in multiple waves from Tuesday to Saturday. Below, I show snow accumulation maps which are the average of the last three runs of our in-house OpenSnow 3km high-resolution forecast model. No model is perfect, though I think these maps do a reasonable job outlining the snow potential for the next few days.

Tuesday

Tuesday will be cloudy with a high temperature in the upper 20s to low 30s. The storm will move closer to Colorado, and the far southern and far western mountains should see some snow accumulations by the end of the day.

Tuesday Night

On Tuesday night, the storm will crank up with a wind from the south, and snow totals in the southern mountains could/should be 10+ inches by Wednesday morning.

Wednesday

The southern mountains will continue to be favored with another 6-12+ inches falling during the day on Wednesday. Other mountains should see at least a few inches of snow, especially during the morning as a fast-moving line of potentially intense snow moves from west to east across Colorado, weakening as it moves east toward the continental divide. Temperatures should be in the upper teens to low 20s and cooling through the day, so snow quality will improve (become fluffier).

Wednesday Night

From Wednesday night onward, my confidence in the forecast details decreases.

On Wednesday night, the wind direction should switch from the south and southwest to blow from the west-southwest and west. This could keep snow going for some southern mountains and bring more snow to the central and northern mountains. The amounts below for the northern and central mountains may be somewhat overdone, but I still think 2-8 inches is reasonable on Wednesday night for most mountains, and due to abundant moisture and storm energy moving over the state, there could be double-digit totals on Wednesday night...somewhere.

Thursday

Thursday could be a powder day for a lot of areas based on the snow that falls on Wednesday night. During the day on Thursday, we should see snowflakes in the air and at least light additional accumulation throughout the day. Amounts could be higher than what is shown below, again based on abundant moisture, storm energy, and cooling temperatures. Temperatures will be in the teens with pretty good/fluffy snow quality.

Thursday Night

Thursday night might be a reset, where snow slows down or stops across many mountains while it ramps up somewhat in the south as another piece of storm energy approaches.

Friday

I have no idea what's going to happen on Friday. I still think this will be a transition period between the exiting storm to our east and a new storm to our southwest. Temperatures will be in the teens and there could be some more snow accumulation if we're lucky.

Friday Night

On Friday night, the next storm will move in from the southwest, and while there could be light snow everywhere, the most snow will likely fall across the far western mountains and just east of the continental divide as winds over the eastern part of Colorado blow from the east.

Saturday

Most of the snow on Saturday should fall east of the continental divide, though there will be snow showers everywhere. Temperatures will be in the teens.

Saturday Night and Sunday

There will be additional snow on Saturday night, maybe a few inches for most mountains, and then the storm will finally move away by Sunday morning. On Sunday, expect sunny skies, light winds, and temperatures in the teens.

Storm Total, Tuesday to Saturday

Below is the storm total snowfall map from Tuesday to Saturday. I think some of the snow amounts in the northern mountains could be lower than what is shown and will be more in line with a 6-12 inch range (though multiple models do show higher totals at Steamboat, so 15+ inches there could be correct). Elsewhere, 20-40 inches is certainly possible in the southern mountains, with 15-30 inches in the west/central mountains.

Extended Forecast

Next week should be mostly dry, from Monday, February 12 to about Sunday, February 18. During the week, we will likely see a weak storm or two bring some snow, but at the moment, it appears that snow accumulations should be on the lighter side.

Description: The graphic above shows 51 versions of the European EPS ensemble model (top) on the y-axis (vertical) and 15 days from left to right on the x-axis (horizontal). Each colored rectangle shows a chance for precipitation, with grey equaling little precipitation, green equaling light precipitation, and blues and oranges showing significant precipitation. The more the colors are aligned vertically, the higher the confidence in the forecast.

While I think that most of the President's Day holiday weekend will be dry, the next storm should arrive early the following week, sometime in the timeframe of Monday, February 19 to Wednesday, February 21. The early indication is that this storm will move in from the southwest, with higher snow totals over our southern mountains.

My next update will be Wednesday morning.

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

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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