ForecastUnsettled, Cold Week Ahead, But No Major Snow StormsColorado will receive a few modest shots of snow this week, and a strong cold front on Thursday. Our snowpack will really start to rot from the bottom.
- In general, temperatures will tumble this week across Colorado (and much of the United States) as a strong dipole pattern sets up across North America and transports arctic air southwards.
- This air is pretty dry, so despite some upper level disturbances this week, most of Colorado will not see decent snowfall.
- Overall, this pattern will help make our snowpack very fragile and rotten. Typical.
- There is a system impacting us tonight, with residual impacts into Tuesday morning. Largest impacts are in New Mexico and southern Colorado (4-10"). In northern Colorado, only 0-4".
- Another disturbance from Tuesday PM to Wednesday AM with very little snow expected.
- Strong cold front Thursday morning, increasingly cold into Friday with frigid overnight temperatures by Saturday AM.
- The disturbance associated with this front could bring a few more inches of snow to northern Colorado.
- Saturday will be very cold, with increasing winds.
- Sunday will be warmer, but windier, gusts along the Divide could be quite nasty.
We're a bit late on this, but big deal... The last storm (November 9 - 11) was meager and didn't bring much in the way of snow to most of Colorado's mountains -- just a refresher. The base hasn't appreciably gone up at most open ski areas. Only the Park Range (such as Steamboat) and Flat Tops picked up more substantial snowfall. That area was generally a boom, while most areas came in near the bottom of our expected forecast range or even a bit lower in a few spots (southern Colorado).
Our early season head start doesn't look like it will hold on for much longer, considering next week's forecast.
For backcountry skiers, the next week is a cause of concern as as our meager snowpack is about to experience a lengthy stretch of dry air and frigid temperatures. This will kick the faceting processing into overdrive and ensure we have a nice layer of hoar that is ready to be buried and become a major stability problem for months to come. But for us in Colorado, what's new?
Most of the United States will experience below average temperatures and even record lows over the next week as a strong dipole of airmasses sets up across North America.
Dry, frigid air will be advected southwards into the continental United States over the course of the week. By this weekend parts of every state will have experienced lows below freezing, except perhaps Florida.
The keyword here is "dry" -- though we'll get some disturbances this week, they will have very little moisture to tap into. The main impacts will be winds (and wind chills) and pockets of light to moderate snow. Here's a look at the Blend's expectation for snow totals over the next week -- not great at all considering the otherwise wintry conditions we'll be experiencing.
Storm Tonight To Tuesday Morning
The first disturbance is tonight and into Tuesday morning as a weak closed low traverses across the desert southwest, with an associated shortwave trough sweeping across Colorado.
The main impacts are relegated to New Mexico and southern Colorado, particularly the Sangres and eastern San Juans. These ranges could pick up 4-9" by Monday afternoon as the closed low is forced over the Rockies and undergoes lee cyclogenesis. Add perhaps an inch or two for flow behind the system into Tuesday morning.
Elsewhere in Colorado, definitely shaping up to be a snoozefest of 0-4". If the latest high resolution models are to be believed, almost everywhere will come in at the low end of that range. Best chances for a couple inches or a bit more are along the Divide. About half of that snow is coming tonight, with the rest of it coming later Monday in northwest flow behind the passage of the shortwave axis.
A quick vibe check tells us that we could see some small bands of precip jump the Divide and bringing trace amounts of snow (or even a whole inch!) to parts of the I-25 corridor. Are you feeling lucky?
As we mentioned, this actually isn't a terrible setup in terms of dynamics, but we have very little moisture to work with.
It will be colder on Tuesday behind this system, as arctic air begins to tighten its grip on us through the rest of the week.
Very Weak Disturbance Tuesday PM to Wednesday AM
As the larger scale dipole pattern starts to set up, Colorado will be under the jet and subjected to any weak disturbances embedded in flow aloft. One of these will arrive by late Tuesday, bringing some lift ahead of it and some marginal north-northwesterly flow behind it on Wednesday.
That's cool and all, but this isn't a very significant disturbance to begin with, and the almost total absence of moisture makes this about as exciting as when you're next in line to display your ID and boarding pass to a TSA agent at the airport. Maybe 0-2" for parts of the furthest north Colorado mountains by the noon Wednesday. Maybe.
The good news is that the coldest air will be likely be locked up to our east and we'll probably even warm up a bit on Wednesday ahead of major cold front that's progged for Thursday.
Thursday: Major Cold Front, Another Skimpy Layer of Snow
Here it comes, the moment you've all been waiting for.
A cold front will sweep into northern Colorado on Thursday morning, and it's a strong one. Our neighbors to the north will get the brunt of it, but we'll certainly feel it down here. As cold air advects into the state from Thursday to Friday, we'll see lows eventually drop well into the negatives for most of the mountains and into the teens in the I-25 corridor.
To our north, this front will likely break some low temperature records, and by Friday morning almost the entire United States will be experiencing freezing temperatures!
For the Rockies, this front is associated with a shortwave trough that will sweep southwards and the eastwards around the main broad upper level trough in place over eastern North America.
For many parts of the Rockies, this may be the best chance for snow. We just need some moisture...
Well, there should be just enough moisture for a little bit of snow, particularly along the Front Range as a decently strong upslope sets up. From Thursday PM to Friday AM, northern Colorado might pick up... Trace to 4" of snow?
We'll take a look at this again as we progress into the work week.
This weekend's weather is looking pretty brutal. The winds will likely be the biggest issue, with gusts of 30-70mph along the Divide (we'll have to refine this forecast as we get closer to the weekend). On Saturday, temperatures in the mountains will barely climb into the single digits or low teens.
On Sunday, a bit warmer, but definitely windier. This is good news for the base of the foothills / I-25 corridor which will benefit from the warming downslope. High temperatures may end up more in the 50s down there.
After the weekend, we don't see a strong enough signal to forecast any potential storms. It does look like the chilly pattern breaks down, at least.
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