Colorado Daily Snow

Powder Wednesday, Thursday, Friday

Summary

We saw light snow on Monday night as our next storm approaches, and accumulations will stay light with warm temperatures through late Tuesday night. Then the southern mountains will get heavy snow on Wednesday morning, followed by the rest of Colorado on Wednesday, with additional (colder, fluffier) snow on Wednesday night into Thursday morning. Then another storm will arrive on Thursday night and Friday. You’ll find powder on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, with the deepest snow varying by mountain range (more details in my full forecast). Hooray for powder!

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Short Term Forecast

Before getting to the forecast, here is a reader-submitted photo from this past Sunday at Berthoud Pass. Even in years when the snowpack is well below average, there is powder!

Now on Tuesday morning, the water vapor satellite loop shows the center of the storm swirling near Southern California, with waves of moisture pushing ahead of the storm to the east and toward Colorado.

One of these waves of moistures moved across Colorado on Monday night, delivering a dusting to 2 inches to some mountains. Since we are ahead of the storm and the winds are from the southwest, temperatures are warm and snow levels are likely running around 8,000-9,000 feet. This means that there could be a few rain drops at lower-elevation base areas, but don’t fret, the cold air will arrive soon.

On Tuesday, expect mostly cloudy skies, a few showers which might produce measurable snow, and also dry weather for most of the day.

On Tuesday night, intense snow should push into the southern mountains, with waves of less intense snow pushing across all mountains.

On Wednesday morning, it should be a powder day in the southern mountains 3-6 inches fresh and more through the day. For the central and northern mountains, the day may start with light accumulations, then snow should intensify through the day with intense snow falling at most mountains during the middle of the day and afternoon.

On Wednesday night, the wind direction will be from the northwest, and this usually means that we’ll continue to see significant accumulations in the northern mountains and perhaps in the northern San Juans as well (Silverton, Telluride).

If you ski on Wednesday, expect thicker snow during the first half of the day due to stronger winds and warmer temperatures, then as colder air moves in, the snow should become fluffier by later Wednesday evening. This is called a right-side-up storm, where we first have dense snow, and then fluffy snow falls on top. This is what we want for the best powder skiing.

If you want to ski powder….
* Southern mountains – Wednesday all day (5-10”+)
* Central mountains – Wednesday midday through afternoon (3-6”), Thursday first chair (3-6” additional)
* Northern mountains – Wednesday afternoon (3-6”), Thursday first chair (6-12”additional)

I am excited that a few mountains favored by northwest flow (Vail, Copper, Breckenridge, Winter Park, perhaps Aspen Highlands, Telluride, Silverton) will see more snow than forecast on Wednesday night. The storm will be strengthening in eastern Colorado and Kansas as it moves away on Wednesday night, and this is often a recipe for some northwest flow surprises. Keep your eye on Thursday morning for pow…

On Thursday, we’ll see a break in the snow for most of the day.

On Thursday night through Friday afternoon, another round of snow will push across the northern and north-central mountains. Perhaps 2-4 inches will accumulate by the 5am report on Friday, then another 2-4 or 3-6 inches should accumulate between Friday at 5am and Friday early afternoon. If you wake up on Friday and see a low report, don’t let that discourage you from skiing as there will be more snow that falls during the day on Friday in the northern mountains.

Snow should end by Friday afternoon with perhaps a few light snow showers continuing on Friday night.

Here is the University of Utah total snowfall forecast for Vail Pass. Totals are about 6-16 inches with an average of about 12 inches.

And below is for Red Mountain Pass, between Telluride and Silverton. About 12-30 inches with an average of 20 inches. This might be slightly high, but the setup does look good for significant snow between Wednesday morning and Thursday morning.

Extended Forecast

Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday will likely be dry.

Then, as I’ve talked about for days, a stormier pattern should settle over the west starting on or around Wednesday, January 17th and this stormier pattern should continue through late January.

I do NOT know exactly if and when Colorado will see the most snow from this pattern as we are too far out to look at the details of any signal storm. That said, we haven’t seen a setup this good all winter, and I think most or all of Colorado’s mountains should see a few significant storms during the second half of January.

Thanks for reading!

JOEL GRATZ

Announcements

You are invited to my presentation titled “Pray for Snow Party and Snow Science Talk”
* Wednesday, January 10th
* Frisco Day Lodge (621 Recreation Way, Frisco, CO)
* Doors open at 500pm
* Talk from 530pm - 630pm
* Parking is free
* Cash bar available ($4 beer or wine)

Geography Key

Northern Mountains
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, Arapahoe Basin, Winter Park, Berthoud Pass

East of the Divide
Eldora, Echo, Rocky Mountain National Park, Cameron Pass

Central Mountains
Aspen, Sunlight, Monarch, Crested Butte, Irwin, Powderhorn

Southern Mountains
Telluride, Silverton – north side of the southern mountains | Purgatory, Wolf Creek – south side of the southern mountains

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