The northern mountains received a few additional inches on Monday (Steamboat) and Monday night (Winter Park). Tuesday will be dry, and then the northern mountains will get another few inches from late Wednesday through early Friday. If you get enjoyment out of making turns in soft snow, I'd keep an eye on Friday morning. Then it looks like we'll be dry for the most part of the next 7-10 days, and there are hints that our current not-so-ideal weather pattern could begin to adjust starting sometime between about December 15-20th.
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Short Term Forecast
Most mountains received 3-6 inches of snow late Sunday night through Monday morning, and then another inch or two fell for most of the northern mountains during the day on Monday.
The win of the day on Monday went to Steamboat where 5 inches of fluffy flakes fell during the morning, on top of 5 inches that fell on Sunday night, for a storm total of 10 inches. Monday's weather at the summit of Steamboat featured a wind from the west and a temperature near 5 degrees. From my experience looking at Steamboat's weather for the past decade, it's this combination that brings the deepest snow to Steamboat.
Here is a video from Steamboat ... ah, it's so nice to see big flakes and fluffy snow! It's been too long! https://www.facebook.com/SteamboatResort/videos/vb.92646793962/10155153827798963/
While Steamboat eeked out another inch of snow on Monday night, the win of Monday night goes to Winter Park which somehow grabbed 5 inches of snow (surprise pow day on Tuesday morning!). No other mountain measured more than an inch of flakes on Monday night, so there was a little magic in the air at Winter Park.
All-Access subscribers (https://opensnow.com/user/register) can view the timelapse webcams from Winter Park to confirm that these five inches fell during darkness and that they will make for fresh turns on Tuesday morning.
Snow stake cameras, like the ones at Steamboat and Winter Park that I shared above, are an amazing tool because, without this picture from Winter Park, I would have been skeptical of the 5 inches of snow that fell Monday night snowfall since the nearby Berthoud Summit SNOTEL weather station showed little snow on Monday night. The snow is likely so light and fluffy (due to cold temperatures) that it is not registering on the SNOTEL site (that's my guess).
Someone is already on Berthoud Pass this morning about to test my theory - please post what you find in the comments!
The winners of this storm were:
Tower SNOTEL (5 miles north of Steamboat): 14"
Winter Park: 12"
Now on Tuesday morning, most mountains are cold with temperatures between 0-10F. Good news for snowmaking, which has allowed mountains to open some terrain this season despite our natural snowfall being roughly 50-60% of average (an average across the state). As BA said in his latest forecast for Tahoe, if you are a snowmaker, thank you! And if you see a snow maker, say thanks. It's a tough, cold job, and while we all love natural snow, it's the machine-made snow that ensures base areas and high-traffic areas have enough snow to make it through the winter and is what gets us through early season dry periods.
Tuesday should be dry with a few lingering clouds and flurries in the northern mountains.
Wednesday through Friday morning will bring snow showers to the northern mountains. The best chance of steadier snow might be on Thursday evening, with a storm total of 2-4 inches. Temperatures will be cold, which means that a little bit of moisture can convert into many fluffy inches of snow, and thus there might be a few upside surprises around Cameron Pass, Rocky Mountain National Park, Berthoud Pass, and resorts near and north of I-70 and close to the divide.
Our Powder Finder for Colorado (http://opensnow.com/powder?count=5&filter=s-CO) shows the rough area that is favored by the storm that will clip northeastern Colorado later this week.
If you want to ski a few inches of fresh pow I would target Thursday afternoon or more likely Friday morning in the northern mountains close to the divide.
Some good news. But first, the not-so-good-news.
The not-so-good-news is that the weather pattern from Friday afternoon through the next week will be dry. Storms will track way north through Canada and then dive south toward the east coast. Colorado will be on the edge of this storm track, hence the few inches of snow possible along the northern divide.
Here is the snow forecast for the next 10 days and I drew in the approximate storm track as the orange line.
The good news is that most models are now showing an adjustment in this dry pattern beginning sometime between December 15-20th. I do not anticipate a change in the dry pattern during these dates, but the adjustment might be enough for a storm or two to sneak into the western US and bring some snow to Colorado.
If this adjustment happens between the 15-20th, it might open the storm door just enough so that we could get legitimate storms during the December 20-30th period. And if we do get good storms during the final 10 days of the month, that might help to open up more terrain around the holidays.
We'll see what happens. There are a lot of 'ifs' that need to occur to give us a good end to December. It's also possible that we don't see much of an adjustment to this not-so-good weather pattern and we stay on the drier side through the end of the month.
Do your snow dance. Put your ski passes in the freezer. Wash your car. Get a snowflake tattoo. Whatever it takes to turn the storms our way!
Thanks for reading:-)
Lou Dawson wrote a guidebook presenting only safe backcountry ski tours. I hope to make it to his talk in Denver on Wednesday, December 6th.
Colorado Forecast Page:
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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, Echo, Rocky Mountain National Park, Cameron Pass
Aspen, Sunlight, Monarch, Crested Butte, Irwin, Powderhorn
Telluride, Silverton – north side of the southern mountains | Purgatory, Wolf Creek – south side of the southern mountains
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