Colorado Weather Forecast #135: Oct. 19 - Oct. 24, 2021

Weak storm into Tuesday afternoon, then a warming trend and mild weather through the weekend, especially on the Front Range.

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Updated Mon Oct 18, 2021 10:30pm MST | Published Mon Oct 18, 2021

By Thomas Horner

Summary

Weak storm into Tuesday afternoon, then a warming trend and mild weather through the weekend, especially on the Front Range.

Retrospective

Thursday and Friday featured another weak storm for Colorado’s high country. Impacts were about as expected, with a few pockets of higher than forecasted totals. Here’s a map showing estimated snow accumulations for that wave:

Mostly just 1-4” across most of Colorado’s mountains, with a few pockets of 6”+ in the higher peaks of the central and western ranges.

Though Arapahoe Basin and Wolf Creek opened to skiers this weekend, we’re still only a couple storms deep into the season, and the snowpack has a ways to go – and the long range forecast doesn’t inspire too much confidence. Here’s how much snow the SNODAS model thinks we have at the moment:

With the mild weather and lack of snow below treeline, it’s still climbing and biking season for many.

Current Conditions

Ridging this weekend brought pleasant conditions across the state, but another wave is moving in quick:

(via WeatherBell)
(via WeatherBell)

Some moisture and stronger winds aloft ahead of the wave produced some incredible mountain wave clouds over the Front Range this morning.

(via College of DuPage)
(via College of DuPage)
(via Laura Smith)
(via Laura Smith)

Precipitation is now entering western Colorado tonight ahead of a closed low that is located over northern Nevada.

Forecast Discussion: Storm Monday night to Tuesday afternoon

Well, we’re certainly behind the ball on this one – life gets ahead of you sometimes! A weak storm has been targeting Colorado for a few days now. Impacts are fairly minimal, as the system is too far to the north – the favorable quadrant of the jet will be located up in Wyoming, so we’ll only have weak lifting energy available to turn moisture into snowfall, which will be entirely confined to the mountains.

(via WeatherBell)
(via WeatherBell)

Models are forecasting another 2-5” event for much of the Colorado mountains, with only T-4” in parts of Summit County. Parts of the Flat Tops, Park Range, and Elks could see 4-8” if they are lucky, but that should prove to be the exception.

(NBMv4 model)
(NBMv4 model)
(NBMv4 model)
(NBMv4 model)

Very little precipitation will manage to make it east of the Divide. In fact, the passing storm will barely even make a dent on high temperatures in the Front Range.

(NBMv4 model)
(NBMv4 model)

We’ll also see some strong winds along the Divide on Tuesday, with gusts of 40-80mph. The strongest gusts will be in the Sangres.

Forecast Discussion: The Rest of the Week

Really, not too much to say here. Ridging returns to Colorado, and sticks around into Friday:

(via WeatherBell)
(via WeatherBell)

With some moderate zonal flow overhead, the Divide will remain a bit blustery (gusts up to 40mph) through the week. Otherwise, temperatures will be mild and there will be plenty of sun, with a warming trend into Friday that likely continues through the weekend.

(NBMv4 model)
(NBMv4 model)
(via ESRL)
(via ESRL)

Forecast Discussion: The Weekend

By Saturday, a weak wave could marginally impact Colorado.

(via WeatherBell)
(via WeatherBell)

Current weather model guidance does not have any significant impact on the state besides perhaps the far northwest and southwest corners. In fact, the Front Range will likely see the warmest temperatures of the upcoming seven day period as warm air advects north from the desert thanks to high pressure over the Gulf of Mexico.

The chance of picking up any accumulating snow at all is pretty minimal, but still, there’s a weak signal in western Colorado, so we’ll keep an eye on the weekend in case a more impactful mid-level disturbance becomes apparent.

(NBMv4 model)
(NBMv4 model)

Long Range

Next week, the encroaching trough to our west should finally kick a stronger disturbance across our region around Tuesday or so. Model uncertainty is extremely high in regards to impacts, but timing is beginning to settle down a bit. We do see that snow is more likely than not:

(NBMv4 model)
(NBMv4 model)

The higher end scenarios aren’t too exciting, which indicates it’s unlikely that this will be a serious winter storm. The latest data has Vail Pass sitting at about a 23% chance of seeing more than 4” of snow – so an impactful event doesn’t look to be in the cards right now.

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