Colorado Weather Forecast #209: Hot on Friday; Cold Front + Moisture Pulse This Weekend; Drier Next Week; Another Moisture Pulse Next Weekend

Record high temperatures possible into Friday ahead of a cold front and moisture pulse this weekend -- though that may be confined to along / east of the Divide. A calmer start to next week, with another moisture pulse progged for the following weekend.

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Updated Thu Aug 4, 2022 2:00pm MST | Published Thu Aug 4, 2022

By Thomas Horner

Summary

  • Record heat is possible in northern/eastern Colorado on Friday, but more widespread storm coverage could keep areas from getting there.
  • Saturday: Despite a pulse of monsoonal moisture, we may see a pocket of dry air entrained in western Colorado. This would greatly reduce storm coverage to the west of the Divide. Lots of uncertainty in the models though, but trending towards a less active solution for the Elk Mountains, western San Juans, northern Sawatch, and Flat Tops. Other mountain ranges should have decent afternoon storm coverage.
  • Still hot to the east of the Divide on Saturday.
  • Cold front late Saturday will knock Sunday’s highs back by 15-25 degrees in eastern Colorado and the Front Range.
  • This should get an upslope going as well which will increase precipitation chances and storm coverage across the Front Range for Sunday afternoon. Perhaps some showers earlier in the morning as well in northern Colorado.
  • Monday to Wednesday, model guidance now has high pressure developing to our west which means much drier and warmer – very little storm coverage outside of southern and western Colorado.
  • Still decent agreement for another monsoonal moisture pulse by the following weekend, likely quite hot the Friday before.

Lightning Risk Grids

Forecast Discussion

Rest of the Week

Spicy temperatures are gripping Colorado (particularly the Front Range and high plains) ahead of a fairly potent cold front which should hit late Saturday. Check out the progression of abnormally hot to abnormally cold temperatures over the next few days in this animation:

High resolution modeling has Denver potentially hitting 97 degrees this afternoon which would be a degree shy of the record for August 4th. Currently, the airport is sitting at 95 degrees (Update: by the time we finally finished writing this, looks like the airport did hit 97). Tomorrow, high resolution modeling has Denver hitting 100 degrees which would break the August 5th record by a degree.

Whether or not that record is broken will come down to cloud cover and storm activity tomorrow, as models are expecting some decent storm coverage on the Front Range by the early afternoon. It seems unlikely that the record will fall.

That uptick in storm activity on Friday comes as a result of the leading edge of a monsoonal moisture pulse as a shortwave helps reposition moisture-laden winds more directly into Colorado.

From Saturday to Sunday, another more pronounced shortwave tracks from west to east to the north of us which will kick a cold front down into Colorado, along with a some additional moisture and some dynamic lift. There has been a big shift in model guidance over the past couple days though, with the bulk of moisture ending up in Wyoming instead of Colorado.

In fact, the latest model runs have a significant amount of dry air entrained in western Colorado for the weekend.

This is alleviating thunderstorm concerns in much of the high country to the west of the Divide. East of the Divide, still looking like plenty of moisture. More on that in a second.

How potent is late Saturday’s cold front? Well, in the Front Range, temperatures could be a good 15-25 degrees colder on Sunday afternoon compared to Saturday afternoon.

That cold front is pretty decently baked into models, unlike the details of this weekend’s moisture pulse. So back to that…

There’s still quite a bit of disagreement this afternoon in regards to the weekend’s storm potential in western Colorado, but it is trending downwards.

If we look short term, convective-allowing ensembles, we see the mean is still holding on to decent storm coverage across the high country on Saturday.

Yet some deterministic models actually have very little storm activity at all in much Colorado. This looks to be where we’re moving towards.

Though things could swing the other way, for now, expecting areas along / near the Divide to have pretty significant thunderstorm coverage – but mountain ranges west of that? Might be a surprisingly calm day.

The WPC blend captures this pretty decently, we feel:

On Saturday night, the cold front really works its way into eastern Colorado which gets an upslope going for the Front Range. Expecting decent storm coverage to the east of the Divide that day as plenty of moisture works its way into the region.

Once again though, precipitation to the west of the Divide may be overstated in some ensembles. Here is the WPC blend:

We’re hoping tonight’s model runs will have some better consensus around storm coverage in the high country. But along and east of the Divide, certainly looking like a wet weekend.

Next Week

Over the past few days, model guidance has changed its mind about where high pressure will rebuild. Early this week, it was looking like a center of high pressure would develop to our east, which would help draw in monsoonal moisture. Instead, most guidance now has high pressure rebuilding to our west, which means hotter temperatures and lower storm coverage for the start of the week.

From Monday to Wednesday, not expecting much storm coverage outside of southern and western Colorado as dry air works its way into northern and eastern Colorado.

The heat will return as well.

This will come to a head later next week as high pressure moves eastwards directly over Colorado. By Friday, there is decent model consensus that high pressure will end up to our southeast and break down a bit. This means good chances we’ll see yet another moisture surge around Friday the 12th and likely for several days afterwards.

To put it all in perspective, this animation shows moisture entering Colorado this weekend, drier air next week, and a return of monsoonal moisture the following weekend:

We’ll update you on social media about the weekend’s storm coverage as soon as the picture becomes more clear – maybe a podcast or something?

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