Colorado Weather Forecast #174: Mar. 3, 2022 - Mar. 9, 2022

Our snow forecast for the weekend, more details on a snowy and cold pattern next week.

This forecast is no longer valid.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

Updated Thu Mar 3, 2022 6:00pm MST | Published Thu Mar 3, 2022

By Thomas Horner

Summary

  • Plenty of snow from Friday to Monday, starting warm (with some thunder).
  • Wolf Creek is favored with this pattern, but most of the mountains will see decent totals.
  • Increasingly cold into Monday, with a cold front for the Front Range later on Saturday.
  • Continued chilly weather and snow chances into next week and the weekend.
  • Best powder days: Saturday (San Juans and Elk Range), Sunday (decent potential everywhere), Monday (northern mountains, likely Elk Range too).

7-Day Snow Planner (Through Mar. 11)

Northern Mountains

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

6am New Snow

1-8"

Sat

2-8"

Sun

3-9"

Mon

0-1"

Tue

0-1"

Wed

1-7"

Thu

1-5"

Fri

6am Powder Potential

29%

Sat

35%

Sun

44%

Mon

0%

Tue

2%

Wed

28%

Thu

18%

Fri

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

1-6"

Sat

2-7"

Sun

3-8"

Mon

0-2"

Tue

0-1"

Wed

1-5"

Thu

1-5"

Fri

6am Powder Potential

19%

Sat

26%

Sun

58%

Mon

0%

Tue

0%

Wed

18%

Thu

17%

Fri

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

1-9"

Sat

1-7"

Sun

1-7"

Mon

0-2"

Tue

0-1"

Wed

0-5"

Thu

0-4"

Fri

6am Powder Potential

25%

Sat

23%

Sun

23%

Mon

0%

Tue

0%

Wed

14%

Thu

14%

Fri

Southern Mountains

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

6am New Snow

2-12"

Sat

3-9"

Sun

1-4"

Mon

0-3"

Tue

0-1"

Wed

0-3"

Thu

0-4"

Fri

6am Powder Potential

55%

Sat

45%

Sun

15%

Mon

8%

Tue

0%

Wed

10%

Thu

13%

Fri

Denver Metro

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

6am New Snow

0"

Sat

1-2"

Sun

2-3"

Mon

0"

Tue

0"

Wed

0-1"

Thu

0-2"

Fri

6am Snow Accum. Chance

2%

Sat

83%

Sun

91%

Mon

38%

Tue

27%

Wed

67%

Thu

64%

Fri

Forecast Discussion – Weekend Storm

Our previous forecast described the warmth this week and took a look at one-two punch of systems this weekend that should bring decent snow totals to the Colorado high country, and then some.

To be honest, this is a less of a one-two punch and more of a one-two-three-four punch with continuing snow chances into next week. The latest guidance has a pretty powerful final blow for the weekend of the 12th, but we’ll take a look at that in a few days.

Phase 1: Friday Morning to Saturday Morning - SW Flow

A small closed low tracking east over the desert southwest looks to join a broad area of troughing over the western United States on Friday.

This orients a plume of subtropical moisture over the Four Corners region with southwesterly flow. This initial wave of snow will be warmer (low snow-liquid ratios – wetter snow) and mostly be focused on southern and western Colorado.

Instability puts the potential for thundersnow in play. For the lower elevations (e.g. the Front Range), warm temperatures during the day on Friday will mean precipitation initially falls as rain, with some weak thunderstorm potential.

In southwestern Colorado, snow will become more widespread by 6am on Friday. Light snow should get going in the northern mountains as well. The heavier snow arrives by 6pm Friday. Instability means that serious accumulations are not a sure bet as precipitation organizes into more discrete cells, with some unlucky areas missing out on these.

In theory, Wolf Creek has a solid chance at picking up well over a foot of snow during this phase, but there’s a decent bust low potential due to the warmer temperatures and instability, which we’ve accounted for in our forecast, which posted lower down in this article.

On the Front Range, precipitation probabilities also increase by 6pm on Friday, though it wont be cold enough for snow until Saturday morning. Instead, keep an eye (or ear?) out for a rumble of thunder or two. Highs on the Front Range will still be rather pleasant, with the colder air not arriving until later in the day.

Overall, the San Juans should see the best totals with this phase, particularly Wolf Creek.

Here the Blend’s take on the first wave of snowfall:

You can see how quickly totals drop off at lower elevations – it will be warm!

Phase 2: Saturday Morning to Saturday Evening - W Flow

On Saturday morning, flow aloft becomes more westerly or perhaps even a bit northerly (depending on the position and strength of the next system upstream), with snowfall rates quickly diminishing in southwestern Colorado.

The first system crosses over the Divide on Saturday morning and undergoes lee cyclogenesis near the Wyoming-Colorado border which causes the system to intensify. This brings the potential for heavy snow north of the Wyoming border, with some pretty solid northwesterly flow hitting the northern Front Range mountains (RMNP and north), but setting up downsloping winds for the Front Range (Denver etc.).

(via WeatherBell)
(via WeatherBell)

Elsewhere in northern Colorado, snow should also clear up in the morning a bit until flow becomes stronger by the afternoon. Snow becomes heavier into Saturday night in central and northern Colorado, with snowfall remaining sporadic and lighter in southern Colorado.

With the low tracking directly over Summit County, it doesn’t look like many of the I-70 ski resorts will do too well from this phase despite more favorable wind directions – orographics will be weaker. Instead, areas west of Vail Pass and north of Fraser are more favored:

Phase 3: Saturday Night to Sunday Morning - SW Flow, Colder

A stronger system behind the first turns flow back southwesterly by Saturday night. The focus will again be on the San Juans (Wolf Creek, Purgatory, Silverton) and to an extent the Elk Range (Aspen resorts, Crested Butte).

By this time, a decent cold front will have worked its way down the Front Range. Denver’s best chances of snow come during this phase as an upslope as an easterly/northeasterly upslope is established.

There should be decent snow coverage in the northern mountains during this time as well, but actual snowfall rates will probably be on the lighter side.

With a stronger jet overhead, we’ll likely see some banding which puts bust potential in both directions across the state, as these bands can set up most anywhere, even in areas without favorable orographics (such as Summit County).

Here are some somewhat conservative totals for Saturday morning to Sunday morning:

Phase 4: Sunday to Monday Morning - W to NW Flow, Even Colder

Flow again starts to turn more westerly and northwesterly as the system starts to exit Colorado. In southwestern Colorado, snowfall rates tick down considerably after Sunday morning.

Northern Colorado perhaps sees its best snowfall chances of the weekend from late Sunday morning to the evening, until snow begins to decrease by midnight and Monday morning.

This phase provides a shot of MUCH colder air for the Front Range, with ongoing snow chances during the day.

Here are snow totals from Sunday morning to Monday morning, which again look to be a little conservative on this map:

Snow Totals – Overall Forecast

Here’s a couple takes from the Blend on snow totals from Friday morning to Monday morning:

We’ll note that totals in the mountains have generally trended upwards, with nice powder potential particularly near Wolf Creek, in the northern Front Range mountains (RMNP, Cameron Pass, etc.), and in the Park Range. We also think that Beaver Creek and Vail should do well during the phases of more westerly flow. Summit County remains a concern, and we’re not entirely sold on the higher end of the forecast ranges shown above.

The deterministic snow product still seems to struggle a bit with identifying some of the winners (besides the obvious powder potential at Wolf Creek), with a very broad brush of similar snow totals across much of northern and central Colorado.

Still, not a bad baseline.

We can dig in to the probabilistic data to understand bust potential.

Consider the >6” probability product:

and the >8” probability product:

There are some important differences in the above two maps. Our main take away is that the central and southern mountains are more likely to get well into their lower end forecast. This makes sense considering how robust southwest flow is.

Near Summit County, the picture is much less clear. The complex interaction of the two storm systems, and how they evolve when they undergo cyclogenesis to the east of the Divide, makes the forecast tricky. When considering the bigger picture, it does seem that these two systems just don’t favor that area. However, there are a few ways that the systems could track that would end up focusing a strong blow of snow onto the area.

For us, this probabilistic guidance suggests we should lean on the conservative side for the eastern I-70 resorts, but acknowledge that there’s a pretty nice boom potential if a couple of the more interesting solutions end up playing out, which isn’t too likely. This is not the story in the San Juans, where it doesn’t really matter as much how these systems interact and evolve as they track further east, so the forecast is more certain there, with only instability and banding being the confounding issues.

With all that in mind, we’ll deliver you our official forecast.

Last updated Monday March 7, 2022 9am.

Forecast Start: Friday March 4, 2022 5am

Forecast End: Monday March 7, 2022 5am

* = No reliable observations, verification uses SNODAS estimates which may be incorrect.
"Score" accounts for the spread/range of an accurate forecast. Lower spread = higher score. For instance, if 4" falls at a certain location, the forecast for 2-7" gets less points than the forecast for 3-5". Points are deducted for very inaccurate forecasts.

Thomas Horner Weather Forecaster @ Highpoint Weather

Issued Thu Mar. 3 6pm
✔️ Verified
69%
23/33
Score
25%
42/165
🎯 Spread
7.8
average
💥 High
7
21%
❌ Low
3
9%

Central Colorado
8/30pts (26%) ✔️4/6 (66%) 💥2/6 (33%) 0/6 (0%)

Aspen Highlands: 8-16" Forecast Actual17" 💥️

3" Mar 5 5am (Official)
8" Mar 6 5am (Official)
6" Mar 7 5am (Official)

Aspen Mountain: 7-14" Forecast Actual10" ✔️

2pts
2" Mar 5 5am (Official)
5" Mar 6 5am (Official)
3" Mar 7 5am (Official)

Aspen Snowmass: 9-18" Forecast Actual11" ✔️

2pts
3" Mar 5 5am (Official)
3" Mar 6 5am (Official)
5" Mar 7 5am (Official)

Buttermilk: 7-14" Forecast Actual9" ✔️

2pts
2" Mar 5 5am (Official)
5" Mar 6 5am (Official)
2" Mar 7 5am (Official)

Cottonwood Pass*: 6-12" Forecast Actual N/A

Crested Butte S.A.: 8-16" Forecast Actual12" ✔️

2pts
5" Mar 5 5am (Official)
7" Mar 6 5am (Official)

Independence Pass*: 7-14" Forecast Actual N/A

Kebler Pass*: 10-20" Forecast Actual N/A

Monarch: 7-14" Forecast Actual17" 💥️

3" Mar 5 5am (Official)
2" Mar 6 5am (Official)
12" Mar 7 5am (Official)

Front Range
2/10pts (20%) ✔️1/2 (50%) 💥0/2 (0%) 1/2 (50%)

Cameron Pass: 10-20" Forecast Actual10" ✔️

2pts
4" Mar 5 5am (SNOTEL)
4" Mar 6 5am (SNOTEL)
2" Mar 7 5am (SNOTEL)

East Portal*: 6-12" Forecast Actual N/A

Eldora: 5-10" Forecast Actual4" ❌️

0" Mar 5 5am (Official)
1" Mar 6 5am (Official)
3" Mar 7 5am (Official)

Hidden Valley*: 7-14" Forecast Actual N/A

St. Mary's Glacier*: 6-12" Forecast Actual N/A

I-70 East
8/30pts (26%) ✔️4/6 (66%) 💥0/6 (0%) 2/6 (33%)

A-Basin: 7-14" Forecast Actual6" ❌️

3" Mar 5 5am (Official)
1" Mar 6 5am (Official)
2" Mar 7 5am (Official)

Berthoud Pass: 7-14" Forecast Actual7" ✔️

2pts
2" Mar 5 5am (SNOTEL)
2" Mar 6 5am (SNOTEL)
3" Mar 7 5am (SNOTEL)

Echo Mountain*: 4-8" Forecast Actual N/A

Jones Pass: 9-18" Forecast Actual11" ✔️

2pts
2" Mar 5 5am (SNOTEL)
3" Mar 6 5am (SNOTEL)
6" Mar 7 5am (SNOTEL)

Keystone: 7-14" Forecast Actual10" ✔️

2pts
2" Mar 5 5am (Official)
3" Mar 6 5am (Official)
5" Mar 7 5am (Official)

Loveland S.A.: 7-14" Forecast Actual6" ❌️

2" Mar 5 5am (Official)
2" Mar 6 5am (Official)
2" Mar 7 5am (Official)

Winter Park: 7-14" Forecast Actual10" ✔️

2pts
1" Mar 5 5am (Official)
2" Mar 6 5am (Official)
7" Mar 7 5am (Official)

I-70 West
8/35pts (22%) ✔️5/7 (71%) 💥2/7 (28%) 0/7 (0%)

Beaver Creek: 9-18" Forecast Actual12" ✔️

2pts
5" Mar 5 5am (Official)
6" Mar 6 5am (Official)
1" Mar 7 5am (Official)

Breckenridge S.A.: 7-14" Forecast Actual8" ✔️

2pts
1" Mar 5 5am (Official)
1" Mar 6 5am (Official)
6" Mar 7 5am (Official)

Copper Mountain: 7-14" Forecast Actual10" ✔️

2pts
1" Mar 5 5am (Official)
3" Mar 6 5am (Official)
6" Mar 7 5am (Official)

Powderhorn: 8-16" Forecast Actual20" 💥️

-1pts
6" Mar 5 5am (Official)
6" Mar 6 5am (Official)
8" Mar 7 5am (Official)

Ski Cooper: 7-14" Forecast Actual9" ✔️

2pts
1" Mar 5 5am (Official)
3" Mar 6 5am (Official)
5" Mar 7 5am (Official)

Sunlight: 5-10" Forecast Actual16" 💥️

-1pts
10" Mar 5 5am (Official)
2" Mar 6 5am (Official)
4" Mar 7 5am (Official)

Vail Pass*: 8-16" Forecast Actual N/A

Vail S.A.: 9-18" Forecast Actual13" ✔️

2pts
4" Mar 5 5am (Official)
6" Mar 6 5am (Official)
3" Mar 7 5am (Official)

Park Range / WY
8/25pts (32%) ✔️4/5 (80%) 💥1/5 (20%) 0/5 (0%)

Bluebird: 6-12" Forecast Actual9" ✔️

2pts
3" Mar 5 5am (Official)
5" Mar 6 5am (Official)
1" Mar 7 5am (Official)

Buffalo Pass: 12-24" Forecast Actual16" ✔️

2pts
5" Mar 5 5am (SNOTEL)
7" Mar 6 5am (SNOTEL)
4" Mar 7 5am (SNOTEL)

Rabbit Ears Pass: 7-14" Forecast Actual16" 💥️

6" Mar 5 5am (SNOTEL)
5" Mar 6 5am (SNOTEL)
5" Mar 7 5am (SNOTEL)

Snowy Range: 8-16" Forecast Actual8" ✔️

2pts
1" Mar 5 5am (Official)
6" Mar 6 5am (Official)
1" Mar 7 5am (Official)

Steamboat S.A.: 8-16" Forecast Actual15" ✔️

2pts
5" Mar 5 5am (Official)
6" Mar 6 5am (Official)
4" Mar 7 5am (Official)

Southern Colorado / NM
8/35pts (22%) ✔️5/7 (71%) 💥2/7 (28%) 0/7 (0%)

Cuchara*: 4-9" Forecast Actual10" 💥️

3" Mar 5 5am (SNOTEL)
1" Mar 6 5am (SNOTEL)
6" Mar 7 5am (SNOTEL)

Purgatory: 12-24" Forecast Actual17" ✔️

2pts
2" Mar 5 5am (Official)
9" Mar 6 5am (Official)
6" Mar 7 5am (Official)

Red Mountain Pass: 12-24" Forecast Actual14" ✔️

2pts
3" Mar 5 5am (SNOTEL)
8" Mar 6 5am (SNOTEL)
3" Mar 7 5am (SNOTEL)

Silverton S.A.: 10-20" Forecast Actual12" ✔️

2pts
3" Mar 5 5am (Official)
6" Mar 6 5am (Official)
3" Mar 7 5am (Official)

Taos S.V.: 7-14" Forecast Actual25" 💥️

-2pts
5" Mar 5 5am (Official)
10" Mar 6 5am (Official)
10" Mar 7 5am (Official)

Telluride S.A.: 7-14" Forecast Actual12" ✔️

2pts
4" Mar 5 5am (Official)
3" Mar 6 5am (Official)
5" Mar 7 5am (Official)

Wolf Creek: 15-30" Forecast Actual23" ✔️

2pts
2" Mar 5 5am (Official)
10" Mar 6 5am (Official)
11" Mar 7 5am (Official)