Colorado Weather Forecast #141: Nov. 8 - Nov. 14, 2021

Another windy storm from late Tuesday to Friday, mostly favoring the mountains of northern Colorado. Seasonal (and gusty) elsewhere.

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Updated Mon Nov 8, 2021 4:15pm MST | Published Mon Nov 8, 2021

By Thomas Horner

Summary

  • Next storm late Tuesday into Friday morning.
  • The most widespread, strongest snow should fall late Tuesday / early Wednesday.
  • Snow will continue on and off for areas favored by northwest flow into Friday.
  • Northern Colorado is favored for highest snow totals. Double digits possible in the Park Range and parts of the northern mountains. High uncertainty about totals.
  • Lesser totals in central Colorado, minimal accumulations in southern Colorado.
  • Very little snow east of the Divide, seasonal temperatures.
  • Another weak storm possible this weekend, but seasonal temperatures regardless.
  • Gusty across most of the state through the weekend. Strong gusts along the Divide at times.

Retrospective and Conditions

This weekend saw record high temperatures, with Denver topping out at 77 degrees Fahrenheit on Sunday and 80 degrees on Saturday. That was the record for November 6th, only one degree shy of the highest temperature ever recorded in November.

(via NWS)
(via NWS)

The clocks in Colorado also rolled back an hour, which is relevant as you’ll notice many of our graphics may now indicate 5am/11am/5pm/11pm instead of 6am/12pm/6pm/12am, due to our difference from UTC time.

Short-term drought is intensifying along the Front Range as the dry weather continues.

(via NWS)
(via NWS)

This is not that atypical for La Niña conditions. With the jet stream slightly more frequently located over our region, westerly flow drives downsloping, dry winds into the Front Range. This will again be the story for our next storm from Tuesday to Friday.

Denver is starting to run out of opportunities to receive accumulating snowfall before November 21st, which is its latest date of first recorded snow.

Colorado’s statewide snowpack is a bit below average…

(via NRCS)
(via NRCS)

…particularly in parts of the San Juans.

(via NRCS)
(via NRCS)

Again, this is somewhat typical of a La Niña winter, and for snowpack, we’re not too worried about small statistical deviations in early November. In fact, our somewhat dry, warm start may be a bit of a positive when thinking about snowpack stability later in winter. However, it is a bit of a bummer considering how good the skiing was in some parts of the state by this time last year.

A cold front early this morning put an end to our streak of record heat. Current satellite imagery shows some high cirrus from a passing shortwave and low stratus over the Front Range behind the front.

(via NOAA)
(via NOAA)

Forecast Discussion: Storm Tuesday to Thursday

A weak shortwave is entering our region today, but wont provide enough lift or moisture for significant precipitation.

(via Pivotal Weather)
(via Pivotal Weather)

There could be some on-and-off light snow showers in the mountains, but meaningful accumulations are unlikely by tomorrow morning. As the jet moves overhead today, we could see some weak storms and pockets of light to moderate banded precipitation east of the Divide, though likely only over the northeastern Colorado plains.

A stronger, negatively-tilted shortwave trough should track over the state on Wednesday.

(via Pivotal Weather)
(via Pivotal Weather)

Strong dynamics and a plethora of moisture ahead of the wave will kick off snow production late Tuesday / early Wednesday. By Wednesday afternoon, the mountains will primarily be relying on orographics as we lose large-scale lift behind the trough axis. Thus, the best chance for widespread, heavier snow for many areas is late Tuesday / early Wednesday.

However, decent orographics (with northwest flow) will continue into Thursday, and areas favored by this flow regime will see decent snow production at times continuing into Wednesday and Thursday. Moisture looks to become more sparse later on Wednesday, but returns by Thursday afternoon.

(via Pivotal Weather)
(via Pivotal Weather)

With flow almost entirely northwesterly and westerly, the best snow will be in the Park Range, northern Front Range, parts of Summit County and Eagle County (Vail), parts of the Elk Range, northern San Juans, and Flat Tops.

Very little snow will fall in the southern San Juans, eastern San Juans, Sangres, Sawatch, parts of the Elks (such as near Crested Butte), and east of the Divide.

These distributions are shown nicely on the Blend’s snowfall product:

We agree that the higher reaches of the Park Range have the best chance in Colorado of picking up double digit totals. Otherwise, the favored areas mentioned early should generally see new accumulations of 4-10” by Friday morning with a few pockets of double digits in northern Colorado.

You’ll notice some pockets of snow accumulations east of the Divide – jet streaking overhead on Thursday could allow for a few bands of snow to jump the Divide, but it’s unknown exactly where this will happen and how widespread that will be. With some luck, Denver could technically pick up its first snow of the season, but this seems unlikely.

Here’s a less optimistic scenario for snowfall:

The spread between the above couple graphics is not unexpected as weather models still have a good deal of uncertainty. By Friday afternoon, the NAM 12km and Euro have only 3-6” of snow for Berthoud Pass, while the GFS has 8-11”. As always, we’ll err on the side of caution with our forecast.

The biggest concern right now is what happens on Wednesday and Thursday as the system undergoes lee cyclogenesis over the Dakotas. There is quite a bit of uncertainty here. Colorado is on the edge of cyclonic flow and a decent change in forecasted storm track could eliminate many hours of potentially productive orographic snow production over northern Colorado.

Here’s how uncertain the Euro model has been about the center of low pressure from run to run over the past couple days:

(via Pivotal Weather)
(via Pivotal Weather)

With the trend towards a more progressive system, we wont be surprised to see the weather models decrease their snow forecast a bit over the next 24 hours. This trend has been captured by the Blend’s probabilistic guidance, as the reasonable upper bounds of snowfall have dropped over the past day.

This is what we’re thinking right now and our fairly large ranges account for a good deal of uncertainty in the models. We’ll try to adjust these tomorrow as models start to reach more agreement. Right now, this forecast assumes totals may tick down a little bit with more certainty over a quicker, less impactful storm track.

Snow Forecast

Park Range

  • Buffalo Pass: 8-16”
  • Steamboat: 4-9”
  • Rabbit Ears Pass: 3-8”
  • Bluebird: 3-8”

Front Range

  • Cameron Pass: 5-10”
  • Hidden Valley: 2-6”
  • Highest peaks of the Medicine Bow Mountains, RMNP, and IPW: 5-10”
  • Eldora: 1-5”
  • Winter Park: 4-9”
  • East Portal and St. Mary’s Glacier: 2-6”
  • Berthoud Pass: 4-9”
  • Jones Pass: 4-9”
  • Loveland: 3-8”
  • A-Basin: 2-7”
  • Keystone: 2-7”
  • Denver: 0-T
  • Ft. Collins: 0-T
  • Boulder: 0-T
  • Castle Rock: 0-T
  • Colorado Springs: 0-T

Gore, Tenmile, and north Sawatch

  • Breck: 2-7”
  • Copper: 3-8”
  • Vail Pass: 3-8”
  • Vail: 3-8”
  • Beaver Creek: 3-8”
  • Ski Cooper: 2-7”

Elk Range

  • Aspen Mountain: 2-6”
  • Aspen Highlands: 2-6”
  • Buttermilk: 1-5”
  • Aspen Snowmass: 3-7”
  • Crested Butte: 1-5”
  • Kebler Pass: 2-6”
  • Indy Pass: 3-7”

Sawatch

  • Cottonwood Pass: T-4”
  • Monarch: T-4”

San Juans

  • Telluride SA: 0-3”
  • Red Mountain Pass: T-4”
  • Silverton: T-4”
  • Purgatory: 0-2”
  • Wolf Creek: 0-2”

Other

  • Powderhorn: 0-3”
  • Sunlight: 0-4”
  • Cuchara: 0-1”
  • Taos: 0-1”
  • Snowy Range: 2-6”

Forecast Discussion: Friday to Sunday

Snow will mostly wrap up as we progress into Friday, but we do expect some pockets of light snow to continue in the northern Colorado mountains.

On Saturday night, another shortwave and cold front may impact Colorado, though likely just the Front Range and northern mountains thanks.

(via Pivotal Weather)
(via Pivotal Weather)

This could bring another 1-4” of snow to the northern mountains with northwest flow, and a chance for light snow in the Front Range, but it’s also likely this storm will miss us completely. Something to keep an eye on.

For southern Colorado, we aren’t seeing any serious snowfall signal for at least the next week as flow remains predominantly northwesterly.

Winds

With the jet overhead or at least close to Colorado for a large part of this week, we’ll be dealing with strong winds through the weekend. The Divide could see some pretty extreme gusts.

(via WeatherBell)
(via WeatherBell)
(via Highpoint Weather)
(via Highpoint Weather)
(via Highpoint Weather)
(via Highpoint Weather)

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