Tuesday and Wednesday will be dry, then expect snow for all mountains from Wednesday night through Thursday evening with 3-6 inches of accumulation. The next storm should bring an additional 2-4 inches from Friday evening through Saturday evening. The best times to ski powder will likely be Thursday and/or Friday AM, and again on Saturday. Temperatures will be very cold on Sunday, then will warm up next week with more chances for snow through the end of December.
The Limelight Hotel in Sun Valley, Idaho
Sun Valley doesn’t try to be anything other than what it is. It’s not trying to be the next Aspen or Vail. It prefers life a little more off the radar so make those winter plans for Sun Valley, Idaho. Grab your skis and book your stay at the Limelight Hotel Ketchum, a hotel that threw the hotel rulebook out the window: http://opsw.co/2ABMXjs
Short Term Forecast
Forecasting snow here in Colorado is becoming more fun as we have multiple storms to talk about and a positive long-term outlook! Let's get to the details.
Tuesday and Wednesday will be dry with temperatures in the 30s for highs.
From Wednesday night through Thursday evening, the first storm of the week will bring snow to all mountains. Snowfall will favor areas near and east of the divide with winds from the east in this area, as well as the southern mountains (it's about time) with winds from the west and southwest. Other mountains will absolutely see snow, and the eastern and southern mountains are my bet for the highest totals.
On Thursday night and Friday morning we should see a break in the snow.
From Friday evening through late Saturday evening, an approaching Arctic cold front will return snow to Colorado. Expect snow to arrive from north-to-south with the highest totals likely favoring the northern, eastern, and central mountains. The strongest storm energy (jet stream + mid-level spin called vorticity) will likely focus on the northern half of Colorado, hence my estimate that this area will get the most snow.
The University of Utah ensemble forecast (showing multiple versions of two models) presents this forecast for Berthoud Pass, in the northern/eastern mountains, close to Winter Park. Maybe 5-7 inches from the Thursday storm and another 5-7 inches from the Saturday and Saturday night storm.
Below is the forecast for Red Mountain Pass, in the southern mountains, roughly between Telluride and Silverton. Maybe 6-15 inches from the Thursday storm and another 2-5 inches from the Saturday and Saturday night storm.
Bottom line is that you'll find fresh snow to ski as you move through the day on Thursday, and Friday morning first chair should be good as well. Then the second round of snow should bring powder on Saturday. To see the forecast for your favorite mountain, go to this page and click the mountain's name for more details: https://opensnow.com/state/co
An Arctic cold front will arrive on Saturday late afternoon and evening, with the coldest temperatures over the eastern, northern, and central mountains. Expect readings on Sunday morning perhaps -10 to -20F, with high temperatures on Sunday likely staying near or below zero.
The good news is that the frigid air will only stick around for about 24-36 hours, from late Saturday night through Monday morning. Then temperatures will warm into the teens or even low 20s Monday and should stay in this comfortably cold range through the rest of next week.
The even better news is that it finally appears that the weather pattern will change across North America during the final days of December, and this should open the door for more frequent storms to hit the western US and Canada. I have no idea if these storms will track in the right way to bring deep snow to Colorado, but at least the weather pattern will shift in a good way and we'll have chances for storms.
To show this shift in the pattern, here is the forecast for Monday, December 25th. Blue areas show colder, stormier weather and red areas show warmer, drier weather. The red line marks an area of high pressure along the west coast that was blocking storms, while the blue line shows the storm track that was just to our north and east.
The forecast for December 30th is for a shift, where the high pressure moves northwest over Alaska, and this allows storms to likely move more directly from the Pacific Ocean into the western US and Canada.
One more time, for emphasis, I have NO idea if Colorado specifically will see a lot of snow during the final 5 days of December into early January. But the weather pattern will become more favorable for frequent storms across the western US and Canada, and this is a good thing that will likely bring us more snow than we've seen all season.
Stay tuned for the fun ahead...
Thanks to everyone that came to the 10-year anniversary party in Boulder on Monday night to celebrate my first public forecast made on December 18, 2007, and thanks to West Flanders in Boulder for the space and the OpenSnow cake!
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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