Colorado Weather Forecast #193: May 30, 2022 - June 5, 2022

Widespread Front Range precipitation and colder temperatures from Tuesday afternoon to Wednesday, then more seasonal weather before another possible system early next week.

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Updated Mon May 30, 2022 5:15pm MST | Published Mon May 30, 2022

By Thomas Horner

Summary

  • Widespread precipitation in the Front Range from Tuesday afternoon to Wednesday morning.
  • Snow above 8,000ft., some double digits possible.
  • Colder, with highs along the urban corridor in the 50s on Wednesday and lows in the low 40s.
  • Afternoon thunderstorms to end the week.
  • Another weak front for northern Colorado on Saturday.
  • Next system looks to be Monday-Wednesday of next week, favoring northern Colorado.

Retrospective and Current Conditions

Widespread precipitation has returned to (much) of Colorado as promised! In fact, the past few days of rain and snow looks to have closely matched the areas we forecasted that were favored or not.

A few weak cold fronts have ushered a colder airmass into our region which has helped snow production in the mountains. Interpolated snowfall products show some healthy totals in places:

Looking at SNOTEL sites, many areas picked up several inches of snow, but unfortunately, sunlight, wind, and temperatures just above freezing today have erased many of those gains. As it stands this afternoon, we see the following 3-day totals, though some of these areas have less snow on the ground than a few days ago:

Location 72hr Snow*
Schofield Pass ~12”
Buffalo Pass ~10”
Winter Park ~6”
Copper Mountain ~5”
Independence Pass ~4”
Hoosier Pass ~4”
Arapahoe Basin 4”

We’re in between two phases of a large wave which is impacting our area. This has resulted in a bit of a transitionary period, with strong winds today (gusts of 40-60mph in the mountains and parts of the foothills/metro area) and some isolated popup rain and snow showers.

In the mountains, temperatures are about 10 degrees colder than yesterday. The rain/snow level is currently at about 8,000-9,000ft, but this will likely go up in elevation starting tomorrow, at least west of the Divide. The focus for the next phase of the storm is along and east of the Divide.

Forecast Discussion: Front Range Storm Tuesday to Wednesday

As this system clears to the northeast, another shortwave follows fast behind it. This will kick down a reinforcing cold front tonight, with the coldest temperatures expected on Wednesday behind another cold front on Tuesday afternoon/evening. Highs in the Front Range may struggle to get above the mid 50s that day, with lows in the low 40s.

On Tuesday, northeastern Colorado will be in the right entrance region of the jet which will provide upper-level support as the water column becomes saturated east of the Divide. At the lower levels, a northeasterly upslope will begin to deepen on Tuesday and progress into Wednesday morning.

Most precipitation should fall between Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday afternoon.

Areas along and east of the Divide will thus see a number of factors driving rain (below 8,000ft.) and snow (above 8,000ft.) from Tuesday evening to Wednesday morning: the upslope, instability, and jet-induced banding.

With northeasterly surface-level winds we generally expect the Denver metro area and regions to the west and south (Boulder County foothills, Palmer Divide) to do best, with lesser totals in Colorado Springs and Fort Collins.

This upslope doesn’t look particularly deep so in terms of snow totals we expect elevations between 8,000ft and 10,000ft. to see the highest snow totals (7-15” in favored spots). The Indian Peaks wilderness and Front Range mountains above those elevations near I-70 should also pick up 4-10” with lesser totals elsewhere and hardly any snow to speak of in the Elk Mountains and San Juans.

Jet-induced banding will make a mess of this forecast. Right now, several models show some powerful bands of rain and snow extending over areas that aren’t favored by the upslope – so this will be a wildcard in terms of final totals. If we take a blended solution, we see better smoothing of this banded potential, but understand that in reality we’ll probably see a larger difference in terms of winners and losers:

Looking at snow totals on the same mode, we think the widespread foot-plus snow forecast in parts of the Divide mountains is a little overdone. With just the upslope, we would be surprised to see totals in that realm. However, areas that do see favorable banding could sneak into that range.

The 75th percentile snow product looks a little more realistic to us:

Here’s a look at some 14ers – we think the 60th to 75th percentile range looks most realistic to us right now:

For the Sangres, precipitation will likely stick around into Thursday.

Forecast Discussion: Medium Term

Wednesday evening to Friday should feature drier and warmer conditions across the state. We see the potential for some afternoon thunderstorm activity on Thursday and Friday, with Friday having more widespread coverage. Northern Colorado wont get too hot as it looks like another weak front and some precipitation chances are in store for Saturday and into Sunday.

We’re seeing a decent signal for some sort of system from Monday to Wednesday (of next week) which would likely impact northern Colorado.

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