Thursday will be dry and windy, then we’ll see showers begin on Thursday night and they should continue through midday Friday. The heaviest snow will likely fall from Friday afternoon through Sunday midday, and amounts will average around 12 inches with 1-2 feet in the southern mountains and 2-4 feet near and east of the divide. After this storm we’ll see dry weather from Wednesday 4/20 to about Sunday 4/24 then another storm could bring us snow between Monday April 25th and Friday April 29th.
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Wednesday worked out similar to the forecast as a few clouds and showers built during the midday and afternoon hours but little precipitation actually fell.
Now on Thursday, we’re starting off with plenty of sun, though we’ll see clouds increase through the day and the wind should become stronger and gusty by afternoon and early evening.
The storm that we’ve been watching for over a week is now making landfall over southern Washington and northern Oregon as you can see on the water vapor satellite image.
Ahead of the storm’s landfall, radar shows that waves of precipitation are already spreading across all states to our north and west.
I’ll talk about the setup for the storm in the next few paragraphs and then we’ll focus on the details of each day’s forecast.
As we’ve discussed for the last few days, this storm will move to a location near the four corners of Colorado / Utah / Arizona / New Mexico on Friday night, and the storm will then stay near this location through about next Monday or Tuesday. This means that the total window for snow will be about 96 hours, stretching from Thursday night or Friday morning through Monday night or Tuesday.
Also, as we’ve discussed, snowfall will not be steady during this entire 96 hour window. Instead, we’ll see waves of heavier snow and times of lighter snow as the storm wobbles and energy circulates counter-clockwise around the center of the storm.
During most of this 96 hour window, the wind direction will be from the south, southeast, and east. This direction is favorable for the southern mountains and also areas near and east of the divide. This wind direction is NOT favorable for all other areas, so to get snow at mountains that aren’t in the south or east of the divide, we’ll need to rely on waves of energy and lift to overwhelm the bad wind direction.
Finally, temperatures during this storm will be cold enough for snow for all mountains, but they won’t be that cold with readings mostly in the 20s. The snow level should dip down to at least 7,000 feet for most areas, and will likely drop to 5,000 feet east of the divide where we’ll see the coldest air and heaviest precipitation. This means that yes, there should be snow in the Denver metro area and the eastern plains, but accumulations will be variable as much of the snow could melt on the roads during daytime heating while accumulating more rapidly during nighttime or during busts of heavier snow.
Now on to the details of each day…
Thursday night should bring some snow showers to all of Colorado. This is just the leading edge of the storm, so don’t get too excited just yet:-). The best chance for heavier snow will be west of Vail Pass and north of I-70.
Friday morning should start out rather bland with some clouds and a few showers, and then we’ll see heavier snow for all mountains from Friday afternoon through Saturday afternoon.
On Saturday night and Sunday the snow should decrease for many areas, though the heavy snow could continue for areas east of the divide.
Finally from Sunday night through Tuesday, the storm will be weakening so look for lighter accumulations, with the southern mountains favored for mostly midday and afternoon showers.
The map below shows the total snow forecast from Thursday night through noon on Sunday. While additional snow should accumulate on Monday and Tuesday, the majority of the snow will likely fall from Friday night through midday Sunday, so this map does a decent job at showing the possible snow totals.
Please don’t look too closely at this map because the details will be wrong, but I like the general idea of most mountains receiving at least 10 inches with 10-20 inches for the southern mountains, perhaps up to 30 around Wolf Creek, and 20-40 inches near and east of the divide.
The best powder days will likely be on Saturday for all mountains, Saturday and Sunday for areas near and east of the divide, and potentially there will be leftover powder on Monday as well for the southern mountains and areas near and east of the divide. The deepest totals should be around the backcountry areas of the Indian Peaks and Rocky Mountain National Park south to Berthoud Pass, and the ski areas of Winter Park, Loveland, Abasin, and Wolf Creek. If you are thinking of going into the backcountry, please remember that this storm will add a LOT of snow and water content to the snowpack, and this will rapidly change avalanche conditions. Do your research including looking at the CAIC reports, assess the situation wisely, and please make reasonable decisions. Thanks!
After this storm is over on Tuesday night, we’ll see dry weather from Wednesday April 20th through about Sunday April 24th, and then we may see another slow-moving storm during the week of Monday April 25th through Friday April 29th. Winter just won’t quit, and I’m ok with that!
Steamboat, Granby, Beaver Creek, Vail, Ski Cooper, Copper, Breckenridge, Keystone, Loveland, Abasin, Winter Park, Berthoud Pass, Rocky Mountain National Park, Cameron Pass
Along the Divide
Loveland, Abasin, 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, Durango, Wolf Creek (Telluride and Silverton are on the northern side of the southern mountains)