Colorado Daily Snow

Heads up, there may be fresher snow! Read the latest Colorado Daily Snow

By Joel Gratz, Founding Meteorologist Posted 8 years ago December 10, 2015

More confidence about the weekend storm



Snow will fall around Steamboat and northern Colorado on Friday, then all mountains will see moderate to heavy snow from Friday night through Saturday midday with 6-12 inches as a storm total. Saturday night through Sunday night should be dry, with another 4-8 inches of snow on Monday and Monday night. Next Tuesday through Friday should be cold with little snow.


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Thanks for your patience this morning with a somewhat later update. When there is no snow today (Thursday) and a storm soon (Friday and Saturday), I’d rather take extra time, look at all the model data, and try my best to provide an accurate and clearly-worded forecast so you can gain some clarity about your weekend plans.

Speaking of clarity, I think we have more than yesterday when it comes to forecasting snow amounts for the next two storms. Most mountains should receive 10-20 inches of snow between Friday and next Tuesday as both systems should be mostly equal-opportunity events, spreading snow across the state and not favoring one area too much. The best powder days will likely be Friday 12/11 for one mountain, Saturday 12/12 for most mountains, and Monday afternoon 12/14 through Tuesday morning 12/15 for most mountains. I’ll go into more details below.

For a wide view of the current weather situation, check out the Thursday morning location of our next storm. It is a big one, swirling just off the coast of Washington State and southern British Columbia. Notice that there are multiple swirls within the main swirl of the storm. This is why weather forecasting is complicated!



Under all of those swirling clouds, heavy rain and snow is pushing into the west coast. California should see multiple feet of snow, and the powder should also pile up in Oregon and Washington.



Here is how I think this next storm will impact Colorado…

Thursday should be dry with partly to mostly cloudy skies. Temperatures will be comfortable to warm, topping out in the upper 30s to low 40s.

On Thursday night, a cold front will just inch into northern Colorado. I put a bit of snow in the forecast for areas along I-70 and north, with a touch more in Steamboat and Cameron Pass as these areas are the furthest north.

Friday will offer a narrow band of intense snow, created by the combination of a stalled cold front near the ground and the jet stream at 30,000 feet. Both of these features will lift the atmosphere which can create heavy precipitation.

The question during the last few days is exactly where this intense snow will setup. Finally, I think we have the answer.

Almost all models now agree that the intense snow will be north of I-70 on Friday, and the best chance of seeing 3-6+ inches will be at Steamboat and Cameron Pass. Areas along I-70 and south to Aspen could see brief bursts of snow with 1-2 inches of accumulation, but the really good stuff should stay north of I-70, closer to Steamboat. The width of the band of snow may be only 25-50 miles, so it’s conceivable that this band of snow will miss Steamboat and/or Cameron Pass and dump its snowfall on mountains and towns that we don’t generally talk about here on this ski-centric blog. It’ll be fun to watch the radar, satellite, and webcams on Friday to see if the model forecasts are correct and if Steamboat gets the goods. That said, I still would not be surprised for many models to yet again shift the forecasted location of this band of snow between Thursday morning and Friday morning. If big shifts happen, I will write an update.

Here is the forecasted radar for midday on Friday. The last three runs of the high-resolution CAIC WRF 4km model are in general agreement that the snow band (green colors) should be located near or over Steamboat, with most of the rest of Colorado staying drier with a relatively warm wind from the southwest.

Source: CAIC /


For more graphics showing the reason behind the existence of this narrow area of intense snow, see my post from Tuesday ( and Wednesday (

While I have spent and continue to spend a lot of time talking about the snow band on Friday, the storm will still be well to our west during this time, and the band of heavy snow is really just the ‘warning shot’,with the storm’s main charge yet to come.

On Friday night through Saturday midday most mountains will see moderate to heavy snow as the brunt of the storm’s energy and moisture moves across Colorado.

I created a gif of the forecasted radar from the CAIC WRF 4km model on Friday, Friday night, and Saturday. Watch as the band of snow develops over northern Colorado on Friday, and then precipitation fills in on Friday night and Saturday for most other mountains. The time is at the top right and is given in military time local to Colorado (1300 MST Saturday = 1pm on Saturday).

Source: CAIC /


Moderate to heavy snow should fall for most mountains on Friday night through midday on Saturday, and total accumulations during this time should be in the 6-12 inch range, roughly split between Friday night and Saturday. Steamboat’s best powder could be on both Friday and Saturday, while most every other mountain should offer the best powder on Saturday morning through midday, with perhaps free powder refills on Saturday morning and midday before the storm pulls away.

I find that many people are unaware that we have more information here on OpenSnow, aside from our ‘Daily Snow’ blog posts. For Colorado, you can see all snow forecasts on one page, and you can also click the tabs at the top of the following page to access daily snow reports, the 5-day snow history, longer range forecasts, and all webcams.

From that page, you can also click on each mountain to get more detailed information, like temperature and wind forecasts for each day and night. For example, here’s the forecast for Steamboat:

I do not have space here to talk about the nuances of the forecast for each mountain (I could probably write a 500 word essay for each mountain, each day), though I do try to capture the highlights. I do take each mountain’s nuances into account when I make the snow forecast, so if you compare the snow forecast numbers across mountains you may see some differences, and those differences are intentional on my part. Hopefully they are accurate!

Saturday night and Sunday should be dry across the state. The American GFS model reverted back to showing some snow on Sunday, but I really doubt it’ll happen, or at least I doubt it’ll be significant snow.

Our next storm should bring snow on Monday and Monday night, with an average of 4-8 inches for most mountains. The best powder for most areas will likely be on Monday afternoon, though Tuesday morning could be best for mountains along and north of I-70.

In the wake of the Monday storm, temperatures will become very cold from Tuesday through Friday, with highs perhaps in the single digits (F). This very cold air signals to me that we will not have much moisture in the air, so I believe most of the state will be dry from Tuesday midday through at least Friday. This could change as the models are not in good agreement, but I feel pretty good about keeping the snow forecast at 0 inches for most of the middle and end of next week.

The longer-range models do show storminess and cold air for the following week, which is the week of Christmas. I’ll keep you updated when I can confidently share any details about this time period.

Thank you so much for reading and I hope you have a great time on the hill this weekend and early next week!




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— Geography Key —

Northern Mountains
Steamboat, Granby, Beaver Creek, Vail, Ski Cooper, Copper, Breckenridge, Keystone, Loveland, Abasin, Winter Park, Berthoud Pass, Eldora, Rocky Mountain National Park, Cameron Pass

Along the Divide
Loveland, Abasin, Winter Park, Berthoud Pass

East of the Divide
Eldora, Rocky Mountain National Park, Cameron Pass

Central Mountains
Aspen, Sunlight, Monarch, Crested Butte, Irwin, Powderhorn

Southern Mountains
Telluride, Silverton, Durango, Wolf Creek (Telluride and Silverton are on the northern 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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