Colorado Weather Forecast #166: Feb. 13, 2022 - Feb. 22, 2022

A (slightly?) better storm for the mountains this Wednesday, with a decent signal for a possibly better storm early the week after.

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Updated Sun Feb 13, 2022 7:00pm MST | Published Sun Feb 13, 2022

By Thomas Horner

7-Day Snow Planner (Through Feb. 21)

Northern Mountains

Park Range and N Front Range: Steamboat, Buffalo Pass, Rabbit Ears Pass, Bluebird, RMNP, IPW, Cameron Pass

6am New Snow

0"

Tue

0-4"

Wed

1-6"

Thu

0-1"

Fri

0-1"

Sat

0"

Sun

0-2"

Mon

6am Powder Potential

0%

Tue

14%

Wed

23%

Thu

0%

Fri

0%

Sat

0%

Sun

3%

Mon

I-70 Corridor

Front Range, Gore Range, etc.: Winter Park, Berthoud Pass, Jones Pass, Loveland, A-Basin, Keystone, Breck, Copper, Vail Pass, Vail, Beaver Creek

6am New Snow

0"

Tue

0-4"

Wed

2-8"

Thu

0-1"

Fri

0"

Sat

0"

Sun

0-1"

Mon

6am Powder Potential

0%

Tue

12%

Wed

30%

Thu

0%

Fri

0%

Sat

0%

Sun

0%

Mon

Central Mountains

Elk Mountains, Sawatch Range, Grand Mesa, West Elks: Aspen Resorts, Crested Butte, Powderhorn, Sunlight, Kebler Pass, Independence Pass, Cottonwood Pass, Monarch

6am New Snow

0"

Tue

0-2"

Wed

0-6"

Thu

0"

Fri

0"

Sat

0"

Sun

0-1"

Mon

6am Powder Potential

0%

Tue

5%

Wed

24%

Thu

0%

Fri

0%

Sat

0%

Sun

0%

Mon

Southern Mountains

San Juans: Telluride, Red Mountain Pass, Silverton, Coal Bank Pass, Purgatory, Wolf Creek

6am New Snow

0"

Tue

0-3"

Wed

1-7"

Thu

0"

Fri

0"

Sat

0"

Sun

0-1"

Mon

6am Powder Potential

0%

Tue

7%

Wed

26%

Thu

0%

Fri

0%

Sat

0%

Sun

0%

Mon

Denver Metro

Denver and surrounding suburbs: Lakewood, Westminster, Aurora, Highlands Ranch

6am New Snow

0"

Tue

0"

Wed

1-3"

Thu

0"

Fri

0"

Sat

0"

Sun

0"

Mon

6am Snow Accum. Chance

0%

Tue

60%

Wed

73%

Thu

14%

Fri

0%

Sat

0%

Sun

14%

Mon

Summary

  • Overproductive storm this past Friday thanks to consistent banding.
  • Wednesday’s storm should be better for most mountains, but no longer looking particularly potent. Another decent event for the Front Range.
  • Very weak wave next weekend – perhaps some light snow in northern Colorado.
  • Much better signal for a decent, stronger mountain storm early the following week – surprisingly good agreement.

Retrospective

Hello all, hope you had a swell weekend.

Never underestimate banding! Friday’s storm overproduced across northern Colorado as stationary bands of jet-induced snowfall setup across the region, producing consistent snowfall rates and high snow-liquid ratios.

This map from the SNODAS model gives a good idea of totals, though it’s generally too low across the board, as it uses climatological snow-liquid averages (and this storm was higher than average thanks to banding):

This event outperformed model guidance and most forecaster guidance as well. Here are totals compared to the last map we posted on social media, showing how widespread the busts were:

As expected though, not much of a storm for the Colorado high country (Winter Park and Eldora excepted – right under the largest band!).

We do have something lined in the pipeline that should produce more widespread appreciable totals in the mountains, with another storm at the start of the following week which has some of the better potential that we’ve seen lately.

Forecast Discussion: Storm Tuesday night to Wednesday night

The start of this week should be mild and windy, as has been the case between storms with this overall pattern. We’ll then be seeing precipitation chances ticking up later on Tuesday as Colorado goes under the jet left exit region. However, there’s very little moisture associated with this phase of the storm. What may otherwise normally be a nice opening phase for Wolf Creek and the San Juans will just be pockets of light snow wherever modest moisture wanders in.

For Tuesday night / Wednesday morning, the blue arrow shows the moisture blue and the pink arrow shows drier flow aloft:

(via WeatherBell)
(via WeatherBell)

As a center of low pressure wobbles across the Sonoran Desert, this moisture plume will shift further southeast and more directly over Colorado by later Wednesday morning. We’ll see some banding set up from southwest to northeast, though this likely wont have the potential to overproduce in the fashion of last Friday’s storm due to a lack of upper-level support.

(via WeatherBell)
(via WeatherBell)

The above image is for 11am on Wednesday.

The system develops into more of an open wave, as a shortwave rapidly develops just upstream of us on Wednesday. The trend towards a more open wave is what makes this system look less potent as it did last week.

Mountain Snow (West of the Divide)

In general, snow will more consistently fall from 12am Wednesday to 12am Thursday, with the best totals favoring areas that got under the initial heavy bands of snow (this likely wont follow traditional orographic patterns – e.g., it’s anyone’s game) – generally from the late morning to late afternoon.

Right now, the latest Euro model puts the best banding from Telluride to Created Butte to Aspen to Summit County, and another band over Steamboat – which would mean most ski areas win out – but there’s not a high likelihood that this will be what ends up happening, and other models have different guidance. Areas that fail to get under these jet-induced bands of snow will likely only pick up a couple inches of snow total.

In the evening, we’re looking for a potential convergence zone that could develop near the Divide and push southwest, which would possibly provide several more inches of snow for Summit County and parts of the central mountains.

Overall, this looks to be a 2-6” event for most mountains. However, guidance is a little more consistent around some areas having better chances at higher totals: Telluride, Red Mountain Pass, the High Elks, the Mosquito Range, and the southern Sawatch (Monarch). Looking at the fairly reliable high resolution CAIC WRF, we see that it thinks the best totals would be near Aspen (5-10”), in the northern San Juans (Telluride, Silverton, Red Mtn Pass: 8-16”), and 5-10” in the high foothills, while totals would mostly be 2-5” elsewhere.

Snow - Front Range and East of the Divide

Another important feature with this storm is a cold front which should race down the Front Range on Tuesday night. This looks to be particularly cold, with lows in the single digits or teens possible along and west of I-25 on Wednesday night.

(via WeatherBell)
(via WeatherBell)

Moisture would deepen behind the front into Wednesday morning, with the upslope becoming significant enough to increase the intensity and distribution of snowfall. This would likely clear out on Wednesday evening, and model guidance has been cagey about the potential northerly or southerly component, which makes it difficult to forecast the exact distribution of totals across the Front Range (e.g., less snow for Fort Collins and more snow for Castle Rock). We should know on Monday.

For most areas along I-25, this is also looking like a 2-6” event. In the foothills, guidance suggest totals as high as 8-10” in some spots. The Canadian is the biggest wildcard, which has more of a 5-10” for Denver proper (and only 2-4” in the mountains).

Map of Totals

Anyways, here’s a map of snow totals which we think leans on the conservative side. You’ll note that the convergence along the Divide shows up in this product, and we’ve hastily drawn some fairly useless wind vectors around. Don’t @ us.

Lingering Snow into Thursday?

Some models suggest that some mild retrograding of low pressure over New Mexico is possible into Thursday, which would keep pockets of light snow in the forecast on Thursday, but not enough to really appreciable change the forecast.

Official Forecast

Tomorrow we’ll issue an official forecast for all ski areas and such. Hopefully uncertainty has gone down since then, as the spread of potential totals on various models is still quite large with only a few days left to go.

Next Storm: Monday-Tuesday timeframe

An incredibly weak shortwave wanders past Colorado this weekend, but doesn’t look to do much besides produce short-lived, light snowfall in northern Colorado. Early the week of the 20th, ensembles are in agreement about general troughiness, which suggests a system will drop into our region.

Right now, deterministic models are leaning towards a southwest flow event, which would be most productive for Wolf Creek and Taos. Some models have a pretty legit powder day lined up for that Tuesday morning.

If that were the case, we’d see another Front Range snowstorm on that Tuesday as well.

That said, a look at ensembles shows that solutions are still perhaps not as stacked towards southwest flow as the deterministic runs would suggest, with a strong NW flow signal showing up and some surprisingly decent totals considering how dry the 75th percentile tends to be this far out! This is perhaps the better potential for a powder day than we’ve seen with any of the past few storms.

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