San Juans: Telluride, Red Mountain Pass, Silverton, Coal Bank Pass, Purgatory, Wolf Creek
6am New Snow
6am Powder Potential
Denver and surrounding suburbs: Lakewood, Westminster, Aurora, Highlands Ranch
6am New Snow
6am Snow Accum. Chance
Forecast for the rest of the week is unsettled and cooler, likely progressing into the following week.
Powder day tomorrow morning for parts of the San Juans.
Powder day for most ski areas on Wednesday morning.
Thunderstorm and snow squall activity on Tuesday afternoon.
Healthy precipitation totals for the Front Range into Wednesday, but much of it as rain/thunderstorms. Snow level above 6,000ft. until late Tuesday night.
Dry by Wednesday night, next system impacts Colorado by Thursday evening.
Totals for that second system are trending down, but should be a decent refresher.
Decent weather by Saturday, but another weak wave could impact northern Colorado that night.
Better snow chances again on Monday and throughout the following week.
Forecast Discussion: System 1
After a few days of record high temperatures and even a concerning wildfire, snow is back on the menu for Colorado, with multiple snow chances into next week.
Spring skiing was great this weekend, and you’ll have to excuse us for how late we’ve circled back to forecasting this next round of snow.
The main events are two back-to-back systems – one which is impacting Colorado late tonight (and mostly Tuesday into Wednesday morning), and another impacting us on Thursday, but there are a couple weaker waves keeping light snow and cooler temperatures in the forecast through the weekend and into the start of next week.
If we look at temperature anomalies near the surface, we can see very warm air being replaced by cooler (though not frigid) air on Tuesday/Wednesday, with a few weaker shots into the start of next week.
The first system is currently moving east into southern California, and is progged to track over the desert southwest as a closed low over the next couple days.
This system is already introducing moisture and lift into Colorado with southwest flow, and some precipitation is starting to enter the very western reaches of the state.
For tonight into tomorrow morning, the focus will be on the San Juans (Wolf Creek, Silverton, Telluride) and Western Slope, and at least partially Crested Butte, Aspen, Beaver Creek, and Vail.
Warm temperatures are resulting in higher rain/snow levels (in Western Colorado, likely not dropping below 7,000ft. tonight), lower snow-liquid ratios (though strong instability should combat this to an extent), and strong instability, which is organizing snow and rain into discrete cells of heavy precipitation and low visibility.
With this in mind, we think it’s not a sure bet that Wolf Creek, Purgatory, or Silverton will pick up double digit totals by the time snow reports come on Tuesday morning, despite the confidence that some weather models have. However, by Wednesday morning, it’s hard to imagine that those areas wont have somewhere in the realm of 10-20” of total snow.
Here’s what we’re thinking for snow totals by 6am Tuesday:
Wolf Creek, Silverton, Purgatory: 6-12”
Crested Butte: 1-5”
Aspen Resorts: T-4”
Beaver Creek, Vail: 0-3”
Everywhere else: Probably nothing
Southwest flow is progged to turn westerly by noon on Tuesday and then northwesterly for the afternoon, bringing the fun to the higher terrain east of Vail and Monarch passes.
Again, strong instability means snow squall potential, some lightning, and strange snowfall distributions – i.e., snow from these cells will probably be a larger factor than northwest flow, which will result in a more random distribution of snow than we typically see from northwest flow (where, for example, Winter Park generally beats Keystone). We’re expecting lots of surprises by Wednesday morning, and some disappointments.
For ski areas in the more eastern ranges of Colorado (Summit County, Grand County), not much new snow to speak for by Tuesday morning, but some “exciting” conditions during the afternoon and then more consistent snow production in the evening and overnight.
By 6am Wednesday:
Wolf Creek: 4-8”
Aspen Resorts: 3-7”
Crested Butte: 1-5”
Beaver Creek, Vail: 3-7”
Breck, Copper: 3-7”
Winter Park: 4-8”
Loveland, A-Basin, Keystone: 3-7”
Some snow continues on Wednesday thanks to northwesterly flow, bringing an extra few inches to Telluride, Silverton, the Aspen resorts, Eagle County, Summit County, and Grand County until things really taper off by the afternoon.
East of the Divide
For the Front Range and foothills, temperatures will be the crux. Most areas east of the Divide wont see any precipitation until after 6am on Tuesday. The rain/snow levels looks to remain thoroughly above 6,000ft. until around midnight, rendering the snow potential along the I-25 corridor quite low (except on the Palmer Divide, e.g. Castle Rock) as most precipitation will be done by Wednesday morning.
Still, lots of precipitation in the forecast, just that much of it will come in the form of thunderstorms and rain showers on Tuesday afternoon:
By the evening, the foothills will start getting more regular snow production but likely not enough for more than 2-6” when all is said and done. We think Eldora’s final snow totals will pan out to about that much snow. It seems unlikely that Denver, Fort Collins, and Colorado Springs will pick up more than an inch of snow – and that will likely melt on contact with the ground anyways.
Breaking down the timings a bit for Denver, we can see precipitation probability ticks up by Tuesday afternoon, switches over to snow around midnight, and remains as snow into Wednesday (despite temperatures above freezing), but not much precipitation is expected during that time.
You’ll have to excuse the unlabelled graphs and some visual oddities and stuff, that’s a screenshot from the in progress redesign of our forecasting app.
Forecast Discussion: System 2
There shouldn’t be any snow falling in Colorado on Wednesday night, but precipitation chances tick back up by Thursday evening as the next system impacts Colorado.
Unlike a couple days ago, this system now looks to be shallower, but should still offer a nice refresher by Friday morning. Model guidance generally doesn’t have any ski areas picking up more than 4-6” or so (the top candidates being Vail, Beaver Creek, the Aspen resorts, and Steamboat), and we think a forecast for 1-5” would verify for most ski areas west of the Divide at least by Friday morning.
Weak ridging returns for the start of the weekend, and we’ll see some warmer temperatures (nothing like the past few days). The story into the start of the next week is zonal flow: we’ll have several opportunities to pick up disturbances in flow aloft, while temperatures remain somewhat moderated.
The first of these disturbances would be a weak wave that could graze Colorado on Saturday night, likely to the north. This gives northern Colorado a chance at another round of snow, but it’s doubtful with the current model trend that ski areas outside of the Park Range (e.g. Steamboat) and northern Front Range (e.g. Cameron Pass) will get any significant snow.
Even so, favored areas in northern Colorado aren’t looking to get more than a couple of inches of snow by Sunday morning if the wave continues to look weaker and further north.
The next disturbance looks to impact us by Monday, and looks significantly a bit deeper. The current operational Euro run has a weak closed low diving south which means most of Colorado’s mountains would get a piece of the action. Still, this only looks good for a few more inches to snow.
With the season starting to come to a close, we’ll take what we can get, and it continues to look unsettled into that week.
It’s worth mentioning that none of these disturbances would bring any appreciable snow down to the Front Range.
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