Colorado Daily Snow

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By Joel Gratz, Founding Meteorologist Posted 1 month ago March 3, 2024

Sunday Powderday

Summary

On Saturday night, the first part of the storm tracked through Colorado. As of Sunday at 4 am, snow totals in the northern and central mountains range from 6-15 inches, and it's still snowing. Waves of intense snow will continue on Sunday and Sunday night, then may let up somewhat on Monday. Further out, additional snow showers will continue through the rest of the week.

Short Term Forecast

On Saturday night, the first part of the storm arrived, and Sunday will be a powder day across the northern and central mountains.

The snow totals below are as of Sunday at 4 am, and it'll continue to snow through the morning, so these numbers will increase across the state.

Saturday night's snow was generated by the combination of a cold front tracking from north to south as well as the jet stream positioned over central Colorado. Both of these mechanisms help to lift the air and convert moisture into precipitation. 

I expected that the cold front and the jet stream could create areas of 1-3 inch per hour snowfall rates, and that happened for many mountains for a few hours on Saturday night.

The most intense snowfall rate that I found was a Beaver Creek, where their snow stake picked up 5 inches in just one hour. That is a ridiculous snowfall rate and is about as hard as it can snow anywhere on Earth at any time (including Pacific storms hitting Tahoe, lake-effect snow bands, etc).

Sunday morning's snow quality looks somewhat dense and it should nicely cover the harder surfaces below.

During the day on Sunday, the intense snow along the cold front should move to the central and southern mountains in the morning, and then snowfall rates should decrease across the state during the middle of the day.

At some point on Sunday midday or afternoon, bands of intense snow should form once again over the northern and central mountains.

In terms of winds on Sunday, it'll range from light winds over the far northern mountains, to times of 30-40+ mph gusts near and south of the cold front from I-70 southward.

Then on Sunday night into Monday morning, intense bands of snow will continue to move across the northern and central mountains.

Here is the snow forecast for Sunday during the day, with at least some additional accumulation for the northern half of the state, and perhaps 6+ inches for some central and southern mountains as the cold front moves through in the morning.

On Sunday night, we may see another 5-10 inches of snow somewhere across the northern and central mountains. I have low confidence in the exact placement of the most intense snow, so do not scrutinize the graphic too closely.

On Monday, snowfall should wane, though at least a few inches (or more?) could fall across the northern and central mountains.

All of this means that the powder on Sunday should continue through Monday. 

On Tuesday and Wednesday, disorganized storm energy will create additional waves of snow. I have low confidence in the details, and my estimate at the moment is that most mountains should see flakes with maybe 2-6 additional inches of accumulation.

From Thursday to Saturday morning, a somewhat more organized storm will cross Colorado, and this could bring another 2-6+ inches of snow, perhaps focused on areas just east of the divide.

Extended Forecast

Saturday, March 9 and Sunday, March 10 should be dry.

Then next week, we could see snow any time between Monday, March 11, and Friday, March 15. There is zero agreement among the longer-range forecast models about the storm track or storm intensity during this time, so we'll pencil in 'some snow' for the week of March 11-15 and fill in the details over the coming days.

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.

My next update will be Monday 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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