ForecastFirst Salvo of Snow For the Season; More on the Way This WeekHeavy snow hits western Colorado, better chances for the rest of Colorado through the end of the work week.
- Weak shortwave today bringing a few inches of snow to the northern mountains.
- Stronger storm from 6am Wednesday to 6pm Thursday favors the northern and central mountains.
- Setup is a bit better for Colorado's eastern mountain ranges.
- This storm could bring a round of snow to the I-25 corridor and Denver metro area on Wednesday night / Thursday morning.
- After a very cold Friday morning, warmer and dry until Wednesday/Thursday next week.
Welcome to snow season! This weekend's storm ushered in the first ski area openings of the season and have helped lay down the start of our snowpack, though we're still a ways off in most areas for anything resembling decent coverage.
Here are some custom maps we made showing the estimated snow totals for our past storm. In general this methodology seems pretty sound but some areas are a bit underrepresented based on lack of decent observations -- the area around Vail and Beaver Creek is likely to have the lowest estimated snow totals compared to this estimate. Snow stake cams there showed ~9-10" of snow in spots.
As far as models are concerned, graupel is considered snowfall so Denver has a bit of coverage on this map, even if there weren't really actual flakes. An interesting mix of frozen precipitation and rain was recorded when we polled some of our followers.
Overall, feeling the forecast did pretty well with the expected totals of 10-20" in parts of the western ranges, 7-15" in lower elevations of the San Juans, and 3-7" in Summit County.
A weak shortwave is sweeping over the Rockies behind the last storm, with another stronger trough to the west. That trough will bring another round of heavy snow later this week.
The current shortwave is kicking off some light snowfall across northern Colorado:
This will produce gusty winds across the Front Range into the evening.
This shortwave should be good for T-4" across the northern/central mountains into tomorrow morning.
Just as precipitation starts to taper off from this wave, the larger trough upstream of us will begin to impact Colorado, bringing more widespread, heavier snow, and another round of colder temperatures. Best chances for snow are from 6am Wednesday to 6pm Thursday.
Right now, these products are showing a little less snow than we would expect. Bust potential?
In terms of the setup for this storm, dynamics and moisture aren't particularly spectacular. We spend some time in the jet left exit region as a narrow plume of deeper moisture enters the state. Orographics look generally westerly to southwesterly, but thanks to the placement of the jet we should see some of the heavier snowfall make its way into areas that were largely missed out with the last storm (Summit County and the Front Range mountains).
The southern mountains wont do too well from this storm as it is dropping into Colorado from the northwest.
Some models are also forecasting a ribbon of low-level moisture to rotate into the northern I-25 corridor behind a cold front. It's quite possible that the Denver metro area could pick up a couple inches of snow if the front is strong enough.
The HRRR is the largest proponent of accumulating snow in Denver, but some models don't have much of anything. Looking at current guidance, the HRRR may be overdone but we generally agree with its take that the metro area stands a good chance of seeing a period of decent snowfall.
So here's our rough forecast for Wednesday morning to Thursday evening:
• Elks, Flat Tops, Grand Mesa, Park Range: 6-12". Some higher elevations / favored spots 10-15"
• Rabbit Ears, Cameron Pass, northern Divide (RMNP): 5-10"
• Sawatch Range, Vail/BC, Gore Range: 6-12"
• Tenmile Range, Mosquito Range, Summit County, Grand County mountains: 5-10"
• Western San Juans: 3-7"
• Eastern San Juans: 2-6"
• Sangres: 4-9"
• I-25 corridor: 0-3"
The Weekend and Next Week
After a Friday morning, things look a lot quieter, sunnier, and warmer, though the pattern over our region will keep the warmest temperatures out of Colorado. We're not seeing a signal for another storm until late Wednesday of next week.
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