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Colorado Daily Snow

Snow this weekend

Summary

A slow-moving storm will bring snow to the southern mountains on Friday into Saturday, and to other mountains on Saturday into Sunday. Then most of next week should be dry and relatively warm. I am still expecting a change in the pattern during the second half of November and the beginning of December.

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Short Term Forecast

The 1-3 inches of snow that fell on Tuesday night in the central and northern mountains slowly melted on Wednesday as temperatures rose and the sun came out. Temperatures cooled on Wednesday night, low enough to allow snowmaking to continue, so that's good news.

Thursday will be a beautiful, mostly sunny day with just a few high clouds moving in from the south.

These high clouds are being produced by a storm that is swirling over southern Arizona. Look closely at this water vapor satellite image to find the center of the swirl.

This storm in southern Arizona will slooooooowly move north toward Colorado. It will move so slow, in fact, that it will take the storm 3-4 days to move about 800 miles from its current position northwest through Colorado. This is a speed of about 10 miles, or about 3 times slower than the movement of a normal storm.

These slow-moving storms make forecasting difficult because the storm can wobble, and bands of heavy precipitation can linger over one area for a while, which means sometimes more snow than forecast falls on one area while a nearby area gets skipped.

The map below is the snow forecast through Sunday, produced by the American GFS weather model.

I agree that the southern mountains could get 3-6 inches, and perhaps up to 10 inches if the heavier precipitation lingers over the area. This snow in the southern mountains should fall mostly between Friday afternoon and midday Saturday. Here is the forecast for Wolf Creek: https://opensnow.com/location/wolfcreekcolorado

In the central and northern mountains, the best chances for snow will likely be between Saturday afternoon and Sunday afternoon. A few inches is the most likely scenario, but again, if a heavy band of precipitation lingers over an area, amounts could be higher.

This is a warm storm, so snow levels will be high, and they will vary based on daytime, nighttime, and precipitation intensity. During the day, snow levels may be between 10,000-11,000 feet, and they could drop to 9,000-10,000 feet at night. Also, during times of heavier precipitation, the snow levels will be on the lower side, and then when precipitation lightens, the snow levels will rise.

This storm will NOT mark the big transition from a warm fall to colder and consistent winter weather, but it will coat the higher elevations in snow and will keep temperatures on the cooler side for a few more days, which could allow resorts to continue to make snow.

Extended Forecast

The text below is copied from my previous forecast … because my thinking about the extended forecast hasn’t changed.

The outlook for next week, Monday November 7 through Friday November 11, is for generally dry weather with above-average temperatures. In fact, the warm and dry weather could continue through about the middle of November.

But, good news. The 15-day ensemble forecasts are showing a slight shift in the pattern. This does NOT mean that we are guaranteed to get big storms in 15 days, but it is a sign that things will eventually change for the better.

The European and Canadian model ensembles show similar things. Late next week, both models show a ridge over the Rockies. That means generally warm and dry weather.

However, about a week after that, sometime between November 15-20, both models show that the ridge will push further west, hopefully allowing storms to move over the ridge and down into Colorado.

The 45-day forecast by the European model also shows a pattern shift during the second half of November. Good news.

To recap a point I’ve made during the last few posts…

From a historical standpoint, I looked back at the past 37 years of snow data at a station in central Colorado to see what happened when we started a season with little to no snow.

What I found was, during seasons when we had no or very little snow on the ground on November 10th (like we’ll have this year), there was no correlation between that low snowpack in November and the snowpack by late December.

Out of 11 seasons that had little to no snow on the ground on November 10th, by the time December 31st came around, 4 of those seasons had above average snowpack, 3 of those seasons had average snowpack, and 4 of those seasons had below average snowpack. Essentially, the odds of above average or average snowpack is about 60-70%. Not bad.

Thus, it’s not time to panic just yet. All we need is a pattern shift and consistent storminess for about 2 weeks, and we’ll have a lot of ski terrain open very quickly.

Thanks for reading!

JOEL GRATZ

Announcements

I used to have a Facebook page called “Colorado Powder Forecast”. Back in the good ol’ days, yeah? I decided the bring it back and updated the name to “Colorado Daily Snow”. Maybe this will make it snow again:-) Follow at https://www.facebook.com/coloradodailysnow or search Facebook for “Colorado Daily Snow”. Also, you can follow me personally on Twitter @gratzo and on Instagram @gratzo.

Oh, and what an amazing game 7 of the World Series … Go Cubs Go!

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