A cold and powerful storm will hit Colorado on Thursday, with powder skiing likely on Friday morning. Then, after a dry weekend, one or perhaps two storms may bring snow during Thanksgiving week.
Short Term Forecast
Let’s take a look at where we are, snow wise, now in mid November.
A pilot and fan of OpenSnow sent me a few photos that he took during a flight from Seattle to Dallas.
There is very little snow in the peaks except for the highest, north-facing elevations.
The scene is going to change, though, as a cold storm is on its way.
In the meantime, Tuesday and Wednesday will be dry and sunny. Temperatures on Monday night / Tuesday morning are a few degrees warmer than previous nights, which is not great for snowmaking. Also, on Wednesday, ahead of the storm, winds will become gusty during the day and evening.
Then, expect snow and cold air to arrive on Thursday morning, with snow continuing through the day on Thursday and into Friday morning. It will not snow continuously for 24 hours, but there could be snow falling anytime between Thursday morning and Friday morning.
Treat the forecast above as a general prediction of what could happen and don't look at exact amounts at any one point. The main takeaway is that most mountains should get 3-6 inches, and the northern and central mountains will likely receive the highest totals by mid-morning on Friday.
Thanks to a formula developed by the University of Utah, we can look at a range of forecast possibilities for a few areas around Colorado. These forecasts are presented from north-to-south.
The average forecast for most of the central and northern areas is about 7-10 inches, which is reasonable. But don’t discount the outlier forecasts showing more or less snow. There are sound meteorological reasons why the central and northern mountains could only get 3 inches, or could see more than one foot. Low expectations make for great powder days.
As I discussed in the previous post (click the link at the bottom to go back), we will see brief squalls of heavy snow during the day on Thursday, and these squalls could quickly dump a lot of snow on one area or miss a mountain which would result in lower totals. Also, the cold northwest flow on Thursday afternoon/night could drop a decent amount of snow on the northern mountains, which could raise totals.
If you’re looking to see fresh snow or ski fresh snow, Thursday afternoon will be good, and Friday morning should be prime time. If you head out on Friday morning, dress for winter as temperatures will be 0-10 degrees with lingering clouds and snow showers. Fast-forward about a month, when (hopefully) most resorts have a lot of terrain open, and Friday morning would be a legitimate powder day.
After Thursday’s storm moves away, Friday afternoon through Sunday should be dry and sunny.
Then, during Thanksgiving week, we have the chance for two storms. Don’t get your hopes up yet because there is NO agreement between any of the models concerning the timing and track of these storms, but all models do show a storm in the area on Tuesday-ish (November 22nd), and another storm on Thursday (Thanksgiving), ish. It’s far too soon to get overly excited that these storms will bring big snow, but at least the possibility of additional snow is there.
During the week after Thanksgiving, the chance for storms will continue. I know that is super vague, but after 4-6 weeks of few storms, it’s great to see the likelihood that storms will be roaming around the western US, and we can hope that at least a few of these storms make a direct hit on Colorado.
This pattern shift, toward stormier weather during the last 10-15 days of November, shows up in the long range outlook produced by NOAA. Green = good.
The amount of in-bounds terrain that will be open during Thanksgiving will be very limited, mostly to just a few trails with machine-made snow. It’s too early to know how much terrain will be open during the holiday week, but if we can get 1-2 storms per week, with cooler air, for the next few weeks, we might be in good shape by late December. Fingers (and toes) crossed.
Stay tuned and thanks for reading!
I will be giving a talk at Tin Shed Sports at 112 E 2nd St. in Nederland on Thursday, November 17th. Come at 630pm to eat tacos (their food is great!) and have a beer, then I’ll start my talk at 700pm. We’ll chat about this week’s storm, the outlook through early December, and a few thoughts on the season. More event info: https://www.facebook.com/events/1711488562505488/ and link to Tin Shed Sports: http://www.tinshedsports.com/