Colorado Weather Forecast #179: Mar. 19, 2022 - Mar. 27, 2022

Storm on Monday is trending downwards, but decent mountain snow still looking likely. Mostly dry and mild until the following week.

This forecast is no longer valid.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

Updated Fri Mar 18, 2022 12:30pm MST | Published Fri Mar 18, 2022

By Thomas Horner

7-Day Snow Planner (Through March 25)

Northern Mountains

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

6am New Snow

0-1"

Sat

0"

Sun

1-4"

Mon

0-7"

Tue

0-2"

Wed

0"

Thu

0"

Fri

6am Powder Potential

0%

Sat

0%

Sun

16%

Mon

18%

Tue

3%

Wed

0%

Thu

0%

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

0"

Sat

0"

Sun

1-4"

Mon

1-7"

Tue

0-2"

Wed

0"

Thu

0"

Fri

6am Powder Potential

0%

Sat

0%

Sun

13%

Mon

22%

Tue

1%

Wed

0%

Thu

0%

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

0"

Sat

0"

Sun

0-5"

Mon

0-5"

Tue

0-1"

Wed

0"

Thu

0"

Fri

6am Powder Potential

0%

Sat

0%

Sun

13%

Mon

6%

Tue

0%

Wed

0%

Thu

0%

Fri

Southern Mountains

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

6am New Snow

0"

Sat

0"

Sun

1-4"

Mon

0-3"

Tue

0"

Wed

0-1"

Thu

0"

Fri

6am Powder Potential

0%

Sat

0%

Sun

14%

Mon

2%

Tue

0%

Wed

0%

Thu

0%

Fri

Denver Metro

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

6am New Snow

0"

Sat

0"

Sun

0"

Mon

0-2"

Tue

0-1"

Wed

0"

Thu

0"

Fri

6am Snow Accum. Chance

0%

Sat

0%

Sun

19%

Mon

72%

Tue

57%

Wed

8%

Thu

0%

Fri

Retrospective

A fairly classic spring snow storm impacted Colorado from Tuesday to Wednesday. This brought quite a lot of water to the Front Range (frozen or otherwise) and some decent totals across parts of the mountains.

The storm is well downstream of us now, with widespread impacts for the central and eastern United States:

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

Considering the amount of uncertainty in the days leading up to the storm, we’re actually fairly pleased with how well the forecast did. Besides a few surprises (almost entirely on the high end, which is what we were hoping for), the biggest issue was just that the main event was a few hours late, and subsequently wrapped up a few hours late as well. Most notably, the cold air was also delayed and in the metro area, rain didn’t change over to snow until about 11pm, which was later than we were expecting.

Overperformed:

  • Winter Park: 15” (Forecast: 4-9”)
  • Monarch: 11” (Forecast: 5-10”)
  • Beaver Creek: 10” (Forecast: 1-6”)
  • Breckenridge: 10” (Forecast: 4-9”)
  • Aspen Resorts: 4-9” (Forecast: 1-6”)

As expected:

  • Foothills: 8-21” (Forecast: 8-20”)
  • Eldora: 15” (Forecast: 12-20”)
  • Copper Mountain: 9” (Forecast: 4-9”)
  • Keystone: 9” (Forecast: 4-9”)
  • Steamboat: 7” (Forecast: 4-9”)
  • A-Basin: 5” (Forecast: 4-9”)
  • Loveland SA: 5” (Forecast: 4-9”)
  • Vail: 5” (Forecast: 1-6”)
  • Central Denver: 3-5” (Forecast: 3-7”)
  • Powderhorn: 3” (Forecast: 1-6”)
  • Telluride: 3” (Forecast: 1-6”)
  • Crested Butte: 1” (Forecast: 1-6”)

Underperformed:

  • SW Denver Suburbs: 3-9” (Forecast: 5-10”)
  • Wolf Creek: 0” (Forecast: 1-6”)

Denver picked up over an inch of liquid precipitation (with some stations reporting as much as 1.5”) – quite a healthy amount of water. Had there been colder temperatures, the metro area could’ve seen over a foot of snow. This is also something like the 12th week in a row that Denver has seen snow, which is a fairly rare streak, and one that looks to continue into next week.

Unfortunately, this storm likely wont have made much of a dent in Colorado’s drought, even in the Front Range:

(via U.S. Drought Monitor)
(via U.S. Drought Monitor)

Statewide snowpack is near/below average…

(via U.S. Drought Monitor)
(via U.S. Drought Monitor)

…but most ski areas look to be below average.

(via U.S. Drought Monitor)
(via U.S. Drought Monitor)

Forecast Discussion: Storm Monday

The question on everyone’s minds is: was this past storm merely a warm up for “the big one” on Monday? For a week now, some models such as the GFS have been laying down 1-2ft. of snow in the Denver metro area and even higher totals than that in the foothills, with plenty of mountain snow as well.

In stark contrast, other models like the Euro have been adamant that the system will be too far to our south to be a productive event, and for a while neither camp budged or converged in any significant way.

We posted this graphic yesterday:

Now that our past storm is a decent ways downstream, we’re finally expecting some convergence from model guidance. After a swing towards the saucier GFS solution yesterday, ensembles have now trended quite significantly towards the Euro solution – the system being just too far south for deep snow potential in northern Colorado.

The latest GFS runs have cut the snow forecast in half, while its ensemble has moved the system quite a ways south. The Euro remains steady with a Trace-3” event for the Denver metro (and 3-8” in the mountains), and the Canadian is about in the middle. We also have some mesoscale models in range now, and they look very dry.

At this point, we’d be surprised if we trended back towards a more epic event. It could still happen, but the likelihood of that is dwindling fast.

The Blend’s snow forecast shows where we stand right now. Taking a cue from Weather5280’s latest forecast, it’s also a great case study in the effects of northerly winds upsloping and downsloping across the three primary ridges in Colorado that are east of the Rocky Mountains:

So despite some disappointment over snow totals in the Front Range, this continues to look like at least a decent event for many ski resorts in Colorado, and also still looks quite snowy for the foothills and east of the Divide (Eldora, RMNP), with ski areas along I-70 also looking to have good odds of a powder day on Tuesday.

For timings, we would see snow start to filter into western Colorado on Sunday night with some southwesterly flow ahead of the system. A cold front and associated northwesterly upslope would hit the Front Range on Monday morning, clearing out by noon. There would also be some northwesterly flow by the late morning / early afternoon which would bring a few inches of snow to the northern and central mountains.

If this was a stronger event, then that timeline for clearing out and northwesterly flow would come much later, like Monday evening / night and into Tuesday morning.

Long Term Forecast

After Tuesday, it looks dry and warm. A weak shortwave could impact the northern Colorado mountains late the following weekend (a couple inches of snow, perhaps), but the next storm signal isn’t until Tuesday the 28th or so. Temperatures in the mountains could be above freezing from Thursday onwards, with Denver solidly in the 60s or 70s by that time.

--

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