Colorado Weather Discussion #175: Mar. 4, 2022 - Mar. 7, 2022

Ongoing updates about our storm from Friday to Monday.

This forecast is no longer valid.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

Updated Sat Mar 5, 2022 11:00am MST | Published Sat Mar 5, 2022

By Thomas Horner

7-Day Snow Planner (Through Mar. 12)

Northern Mountains

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

6am New Snow

2-13"

Sun

2-8"

Mon

0-1"

Tue

0-4"

Wed

3-12"

Thu

1-7"

Fri

0-3"

Sat

6am Powder Potential

47%

Sun

36%

Mon

0%

Tue

8%

Wed

59%

Thu

23%

Fri

6%

Sat

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"

Sun

3-9"

Mon

0-3"

Tue

0-1"

Wed

2-7"

Thu

2-7"

Fri

0-2"

Sat

6am Powder Potential

17%

Sun

59%

Mon

3%

Tue

0%

Wed

33%

Thu

26%

Fri

4%

Sat

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

1-11"

Sun

1-7"

Mon

0-2"

Tue

0-1"

Wed

1-6"

Thu

0-6"

Fri

0-2"

Sat

6am Powder Potential

33%

Sun

26%

Mon

3%

Tue

0%

Wed

38%

Thu

22%

Fri

1%

Sat

Southern Mountains

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

6am New Snow

3-15"

Sun

1-5"

Mon

1-3"

Tue

0-1"

Wed

1-6"

Thu

1-6"

Fri

0-2"

Sat

6am Powder Potential

59%

Sun

18%

Mon

6%

Tue

0%

Wed

29%

Thu

27%

Fri

5%

Sat

Denver Metro

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

6am New Snow

0-1"

Sun

1-3"

Mon

0"

Tue

0"

Wed

1-2"

Thu

1-3"

Fri

0"

Sat

6am Snow Accum. Chance

80%

Sun

94%

Mon

41%

Tue

20%

Wed

79%

Thu

79%

Fri

45%

Sat

System 1 Retrospective

Day 1 of our storm is complete, with system one out of two crossing over Colorado and ejecting onto the Plains last night.

This system pulled in warm subtropical moisture with southwesterly flow. The unstable air mass was responsible for a decent lightning show across western and southern Colorado. Some lightning was also reported in the Front Range, but if you were in Denver or Colorado Springs, the system ended up too far north to produce much excitement.

(via WeatherBell)
(via WeatherBell)

Totals

Snow reports this morning didn’t actually contain as many surprises as expected, with much of Summit County, Eagle County, Grand County, northern Colorado, and the Front Range reporting the kind of totals we would expect if we want to hit our forecast ranges by Monday morning. We’ve added all the observations from Day 1 to our snow forecast comparison and verification tool at the end of this article.

Here’s a rough estimate of snow totals from the SNODAS model:

We can see that, as expected, there was some heavy snow along the I-25 corridor, but it was mostly confined to north of the Cheyenne Ridge. This will probably result in Fort Collins busting low, as despite significant precipitation last night, too much of it was as rain.

For the mountains, there was really only one surprise on the high end, which was Sunlight reporting 10” of snow.

Conversely, the southern San Juans reported some pretty pathetic snow totals this morning. This wasn’t actually too unexpected. On social media and in our past forecast, we discussed how instability and warm temperatures could really negatively impact totals from this first wave of snow.

Wolf Creek and Purgatory ended up seeing a strong influence from those factors. At Wolf Creek, temperatures were above freezing for much of the day, and then strong instability resulted in precipitation organizing into more discrete cells of thundersnow, which evidently largely missed the ski area.

The Aspen resorts also didn’t do quite as well as we’d like, but not bad enough where we think the forecast is in jeopardy.

We should say that was just phase 1’s totals, and now that the system is to our east, we’re getting a good shot of westerly and northwesterly flow and finally some much colder temperatures.

Webcams reveal that snow is falling at a decent clip at Steamboat, Winter Park, the Aspen Resorts, and Vail, with several inches of new snow since this morning’s reports. For southern Colorado, snow is lighter, but they should catch up in a hurry once the second system brings a heftier shot of coldfer, moist southwest flow.

System 2

The next system is currently spinning over the Sierra Nevada range. It is expected to track east directly over the Four Corners and transition from a closed low back into a more open wave.

Winds aloft will transition back to predominantly southwesterly flow over Colorado by this afternoon. Much of the state will be in the jet left exit region tonight and into tomorrow morning, which will provide large scale dynamic lift.

(via WeatherBell)
(via WeatherBell)

This time period (we’ll consider this “phase 3” per our previous forecast article) should provide the majority of the expected snow totals for the San Juans – if they can’t get 8-10” of snow out the 12 hour period from 6pm Saturday to 6am Sunday, then they will likely bust low come Monday morning.

This closed low becomes entrained in broader upper-level troughing on Sunday and as this axis sweeps over the state by the afternoon, we’ll see a return to northwesterly and westerly flow into Sunday night (better snow for the northern and central mountains) before the primary trough axis drops into Wyoming and orients winds to be more southwesterly again. This return to NW flow is “phase 4” of the storm.

A cold front has pushed down the Front Range last night, but this system will provide a shot of significantly colder air and a stronger upslope which should get consistent snowfall going from Sunday morning to Sunday night.

(via WeatherBell)
(via WeatherBell)

For Denver, the latest HRRR runs are showing the potential for a Denver Cyclone on Sunday which could enhance snow production over the metro during the day. Something to keep an eye on.

(via WeatherBell)
(via WeatherBell)

Overall, the latest Blend guidance suggests we’re still on track to reach our forecasted snow totals for most everywhere – in fact, a lot of bust high potential in northern Colorado and west of Vail Pass.

Snow Forecast Verification and Comparison Tool

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)