Colorado Weather Forecast #186: May. 9, 2022 - May. 15, 2022

More dust arrives in Colorado, a week or two of bone dry, windy, warm conditions ahead.

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Updated Mon May 9, 2022 1:00pm MST | Published Mon May 9, 2022

By Thomas Horner

Forecast Discussion

Well, it was fun while it lasted. We’re not bothering to post our 7-day snow planner in this article as it’s another slew of 0” forecasts into the coming weekend. It doesn’t seem likely that we’ll use it again until next season.

In our last article, we dove into the current dust situation with our remaining snowpack, and unfortunately, yesterday and last night’s strong winds significantly exacerbated the issue.

The visible satellite loop from yesterday evening reveals widespread blowing dust:

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

This has added yet another coating of dust to many of Colorado’s peaks. With no significant precipitation in the forecast, and lots of dust soaking up sunlight, the clock is now ticking on ski mountaineering season, and it’s ticking fast.

You’ll also notice wildfires in New Mexico’s Sangre de Cristo mountains blowing up with the intense winds as well. Looking at the data, there are about 300,000 acres of wildfire in the state. The largest fire (Hermits Peak fire) is almost 200,000 acres in size and started over a month ago when a prescribed burn got out of control.

Though the winds eased off overnight, they’re rushing back this afternoon and will remain a concern at least into Thursday for most of southern, western, and central Colorado and across the desert southwest. This is thanks to the jet stream which is basically just hanging out over the region for much of the start of this week, before it eventually shifts north towards the end of the week.

(via WeatherBell)
(via WeatherBell)

A disturbance in the jet brought some spotty rain and snow to northern Colorado, but this didn’t amount to much outside of a few small areas.

The bullseyes? A few SNOTEL sites in the northern Front Range picked up decent totals. The SNOTEL near Cameron Pass is reporting about 6” of new snow, with a couple inches at the north end of RMNP and even up to 8 inches in the Laramie Range and Medicine Bow Mountains.

Cameron Pass seems to be enjoying a slightly above average year:

Let’s check on how Wolf Creek Pass is doing, in southern Colorado:


The long range Euro ensemble suggests a more consistent bout with summer-like conditions, forecasting below average precip and above average temperatures for the next two weeks:

The Climate Prediction Center agrees with this guidance:

Remember, we’re feeling the presence of La Niña – and actually the “typical” conditions have panned out remarkably this season:

Bozeman Montana picked up some fresh snow this morning, while the upper plains remain windy and cooler and the PNW and Ohio valley are staring down more anomalously wet conditions. Conversely, the dry windy conditions of the desert southwest and central Rockies are not unexpected.

The day-to-day picture will be slightly more interesting, with small disturbances in the jet stream kicking down weak cold fronts and the like, but this will be interspersed with days of near-to-above record temperatures, like what we saw in Denver on Saturday (a new record high of 89 degrees for the date). Perhaps most “interesting” will be the frequent red flag warnings and fire weather conditions that are inevitable over the next couple weeks.

Denver has another good shot of busting a record high on Wednesday (which is currently 90 degrees), with model guidance suggesting that temperatures across the Front Range will be at least 20 degrees warmer than average (which would equate to a high of 88 degrees in Denver).

Right now though, the Front Range is experiencing cooler temperatures and a widespread haze behind a weak cold front associated with the departing “storm.” This doesn’t look to get mixed out until after Tuesday morning.

When’s the next chance we may see any precipitation? Well, if you’re in most of western, southern, and central Colorado, the answer is “not for the foreseeable future.” Ensembles have very low chances of precipitation in Colorado over the next 14 days – not even thunderstorms.

The strongest signal comes Thursday but even this quite weak and is only limited to the most northern reaches of Colorado – though a shortwave should be impacting western Colorado, it comes with a shot of very dry air which wont be able to take advantage of the lifting energy and dynamics.

Perhaps high res modeling will sniff out some better chances for thunderstorms as we start to progress further into May, but the environment just really isn’t there.

An ensemble meteogram for Berthoud Pass just about sums it up:

Truly dreadful, but let’s try to enjoy the sunshine.


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