Tuesday will be partly cloudy and cooler. Then the northern mountains should see 3-6+ inches of snow on Wednesday with leftover powder possible Thursday morning. Another system could bring light snow Friday into Saturday, then maybe a slightly stronger system on Monday. Beginning just after Christmas, a southern storm track should set up for the remainder of next week.
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Short Term Forecast
Let’s keep the powder excitement going even while we’re in the midst of a one-week dry spell. Below are photos near Red Mountain Pass in the southern mountains, with Red Mountain Alpine Lodge visible in the distance of the first photo.
Monday was a mixed day, with some sunshine in the morning then more clouds during the afternoon.
Tuesday should be the opposite, with more clouds in the morning, maybe a shower, and then sunnier skies from late morning through the afternoon.
From Tuesday at midnight through Wednesday at midnight, we are still expecting a storm to pass to the north of Colorado and bring moderate snowfall to our northern mountains.
* Timing. Flakes could start as early as Tuesday evening and continue as late as Wednesday night. However, the most intense snow should fall between Wednesday sunrise and Wednesday mid-afternoon. This means that snow reports on Wednesday morning might not show much, but a decent amount of snow will fall during the day on Wednesday leading to soft and maybe powdery conditions for midday and afternoon. There should be soft leftovers on Thursday morning.
* Location. Mountains near and north of I-70 will be favored, with much less snow south of I-70.
* Wind. Yes, it looks windy, with ridge top gusts of 40-50mph. Areas that are lower in elevation or protected by trees or surrounding peaks will be good spots to escape the strongest gusts.
* Amounts. The newest models have decreased the high-end and are still solidly in the 3-6 inch camp. Moisture is adequate, temperatures will be cooling through the day into a good range (teens at 10,000 feet), and the jet stream overhead should help to provide a little extra lift.
The snow forecast from the high-resolution CAIC WRF 4km model below is about 3-6 inches, which is about half as much as what the model was showing yesterday. The American GFS and European model generally agree on the 3-6 inch range. The multi-model agreement doesn't guarantee that we'll be in this range, but it does increase the odds.
After the storm, Thursday and most of Friday should be dry. As I mentioned, Thursday morning could offer soft turns in the northern mountains with sunny weather through the day. Then the first flakes of a new storm could arrive later Friday with more clouds.
From Friday through next week, there will be three or four possible storms but the details are still murky. I’ll update my forecast from yesterday…
Storm #1: Later Friday into Saturday. This is likely a weaker system with limited moisture, and it would favor the central and northern mountains.
Storm #2: Later Saturday into Sunday. Hmm, I don’t know if this storm exists anymore. Some models show it, others do not. In a fast, west-to-east flow like we’re about to have, it’s typical for models to disagree about individual waves of energy that ride through the flow. Stay tuned.
Storm #3: Monday-ish. The European model has real accumulations for Monday for most of the state while the American GFS model has nearly nothing. Please root for the European model but don’t get too excited yet.
Storm #4: December 25-28. This slow-moving, southern storm is still showing up in the models, with good snow around Purgatory, Wolf Creek, and Silverton around December 26th, and then less certainty after that. The storm could sweep north and hit other mountains, or it could drift east, away from Colorado, with another southern storm taking its place. The takeaway is that most of the state could see snow later Christmas week, with odds favoring the southern mountains right now.
Beyond Christmas week, I just don’t know. The possibilities are many, from dry weather and storminess moving to our east, to northwest flow setting up bringing more snow to the northern half of the state, to a slow-moving southern storm sticking around. I’ll let you know when I see some consistency in the predictions.
Thanks for reading!
My next update will be on Wednesday, December 19.
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
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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