Colorado Weather Discussion #171: Feb. 22, 2022 - Feb. 25, 2022

Ongoing updates about our storm from Monday to Friday.

This forecast is no longer valid. Please return to our list of forecast articles to find more recent posts.

Updated Wed Feb 23, 2022 12:30pm MST | Published Tue Feb 22, 2022

By Thomas Horner

7-Day Snow Planner (Through Mar. 2)

Northern Mountains

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

6am New Snow

2-6"

Thu

0-2"

Fri

0-1"

Sat

0"

Sun

0"

Mon

0"

Tue

0"

Wed

6am Powder Potential

26%

Thu

1%

Fri

0%

Sat

0%

Sun

0%

Mon

0%

Tue

0%

Wed

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

3-7"

Thu

0-1"

Fri

0-1"

Sat

0"

Sun

0"

Mon

0"

Tue

0"

Wed

6am Powder Potential

62%

Thu

0%

Fri

0%

Sat

0%

Sun

0%

Mon

0%

Tue

0%

Wed

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

4-10"

Thu

0-1"

Fri

0-1"

Sat

0"

Sun

0"

Mon

0"

Tue

0"

Wed

6am Powder Potential

87%

Thu

0%

Fri

0%

Sat

0%

Sun

0%

Mon

0%

Tue

0%

Wed

Southern Mountains

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

6am New Snow

7-24"

Thu

0-2"

Fri

0"

Sat

0"

Sun

0"

Mon

0"

Tue

0"

Wed

6am Powder Potential

98%

Thu

1%

Fri

0%

Sat

0%

Sun

0%

Mon

0%

Tue

0%

Wed

Denver Metro

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

6am New Snow

1-2"

Thu

0"

Fri

0"

Sat

0"

Sun

0"

Mon

0"

Tue

0"

Wed

6am Snow Accum. Chance

90%

Thu

55%

Fri

60%

Sat

0%

Sun

0%

Mon

0%

Tue

0%

Wed

This is a supplement to our previous forecast. Please consult that article for more information about timings, uncertainty, and the larger scale pattern.

We’ll be keeping this article updated throughout the week. Last updated Wednesday at 12pm.

Retrospective

Arctic air is here and snow has been falling across most of Colorado. We saw a strong cold front on Monday:

(via WeatherBell)
(via WeatherBell)

At Denver International Airport, the FROPA (frontal passage) was at 11am:

(via NOAA)
(via NOAA)

The temperature went from 51 degrees to 34 degrees in 15 minutes. Lows bottomed out at -3 degrees this morning, with the HRRR high resolution model calling for similar lows the next couple nights. Denver’s high temperature was 8 degrees, which is the record coldest high temperature for the date.

On Wednesday morning at 5am, Denver’s low temperature bottomed out at -7 degrees, which set the record lowest temperature for the date. The previous record was -4 degrees, set in 1899.

In the mountains, you can see moist flow aloft and heavy bands of snow, some of which popped up over the plains. These bands are caused by jet streaking, as there is a jet speed max over Colorado. In the Front Range, you can see a weak, shallow upslope with winds from the northeast.

(via College of DuPage)
(via College of DuPage)

Tuesday and today generally features more of the same as the system has stalled out over the desert southwest. Moisture aloft is increasing today.

As we hinted, there was even a little bit of thundersnow in the initial wave of snow which featured convective instability.

(via WeatherBell)
(via WeatherBell)

Will It Bust?

One more day of snow remains, with some of the best snow coming this afternoon and into the night.

(This was posted Tuesday, and may be out of date) The latest model guidance for the rest of the storm has no serious changes, besides an obvious downwards trend for parts of the Front Range (except for Colorado Springs). However, we can see how remaining uncertainty is starting to resolve:

No big surprises here. Southern Colorado’s certainty towards sealing the deal for an excellent event has steadily trended up over the past 72 hours, while areas further north and east in Colorado have settled into a forecast range that is less epic but still decent.

Most notably, the last batch of model runs cut out a significant amount of uncertainty. Generally, this removed the outlandish high end totals for resorts in Summit County, but in general, it raised the “worst-case” low end totals as well.

Our Forecast: Progress so Far

To reiterate, the expected amount of snow on the way will put us well into our forecast ranges for most areas, and some of Tuesday morning’s snow reports were not unexpected at all (a couple inches in Summit County was not a bust). Unlike previous storms, haven’t really dug in and broken down a more specific forecast for each day and for many specific areas, but we have discussed some general ranges on social media and with our quartile snow maps.

So let’s collect what we have into a table.

  • Forecast: Our forecast for Monday 5am to Thursday 5am.
  • CAIC: CAIC WRF forecast for Wednesday 5am to Thursday 5am.
  • NBM: Blend forecast for Wednesday 5am to Thursday 5am.
  • Totals: Observed snowfall so far. Each day is the 5am report for the day.
  • Projection: If we expect the final totals to fall into our forecast range.
Area Forecast (Mon-Thu) CAIC (Remaining) NBM (Remaining) Totals Tue Wed Thu Projection
Purgatory 24-48” 12” 13” 33” 14” 19”   Verify
Red Mtn Pass 24-36” 13” 12” ~28-36” ~8-10” ~20-26”   Bust High
Silverton SA 24-36” 12” 13” 26” 10” 16”   Bust High
Wolf Creek 30-50” 10” 20” 25” 9” 16”   Verify
Snowmass 12-24” 8” 7” 25” 6” 19”   Bust High
Telluride SA 15-30” 10” 9” 21” 11” 10”   Bust High
Aspen Highlands 12-24” 6” 6” 19” 9” 10”   Bust High
Crested Butte SA 15-30” 5” 4” 14” 8” 6”   Verify
Aspen Mountain 12-24” 6” 6” 12” 5” 7”   Verify
Buttermilk 12-24” 5” 6” 12” 4” 8”   Verify
Monarch 10-20” 7” 8” 9” 5” 4”   Verify
Powderhorn 10-20” 5” 6” 8” 2” 6”   Verify
Steamboat 6-12” 4” 3” 7” 5” 2”   Verify
Vail SA 10-20” 9” 5” 7” 2” 5”   Verify
Loveland SA 7-14” 8” 5” 7” 2” 5”   Bust High
Beaver Creek 10-20” 8” 6” 7” 1” 6”   Verify
Buffalo Pass 8-16” 5” 5” ~5-10” 6” ~4-8”   Verify
Cameron Pass 6-12” 3” 3” ~6” ~4” ~2”   Verify
Ski Cooper 8-16” 6” 5” 6” 3” 3”   Verify
Breckenridge SA 8-16” 6” 4” 5” 1” 4”   Verify
Winter Park 7-14” 5” 4” 5” 1” 4”   Verify
Cuchara 10-20” 4” 6” 5” 1” 4”   Bust Low
Berthoud Pass 7-14” 5” 3” ~5” ~3” ~2”   Verify
Boulder 4-9” 1” 2” 2-5” 1-3” 1-2”   Bust Low
Copper Mtn 8-16” 6” 4” 4” 1” 3”   Verify
Keystone 7-14” 5” 4” 4” 2” 2”   Verify
A-Basin 7-14” 6” 4” 3” 1” 2”   Verify
Eldora 4-8” 3” 3” 2” 1” 1”   Verify
Colorado Springs 3-6” 1” 2” 1-3” 0-1” 1-2”   Bust Low
Denver 3-6” 1” 1” 1-3” 0-1” 1-2”   Bust Low
Fort Collins 4-9” 1” 2” 1-3” 0-1” 1-2”   Bust Low

Forecast Maps

Here’s the latest Blend maps from Wednesday morning.

Deterministic:

Compare to the Blend probabilistic, which is a little more optimistic in some areas and less in other areas, and captures which regions have the highest uncertainty:

Friday Snow

On Friday, a weak shortwave will prevent us from warming up, and bring 0-2” of snow to the central and northern mountains, in addition to 0-1” to the Front Range. Here’s a snowfall map:

Warm and Dry into Next Week

The Front Range will finally get above freezing on Saturday, and then temperatures will warm dramatically as a ridge develops over the western United States and a warmer airmass advects into the region. Zonal flow will aloft will also help us reach warm temperatures as downsloping winds off the mountains compress the air and heats it.

Here are the highs/lows for Denver from the Euro model:

The Blend high temperature forecast for NEXT Thursday looks like March!

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