Colorado Daily Snow

Monday (and Tuesday?) funday

Summary

Snow will begin to fall on Monday morning and conditions should get better through the day. Snow could continue on Monday evening after lifts close, so Tuesday morning could be the softest time to ride, especially in the northern mountains. Total accumulations should be 3-6 inches with up to 10” for a few spots. Tuesday should be a break in the snow. The next storm will come Wednesday and the focus of the snow should be near and east of the divide through Thursday morning. Following a warm weekend, the next storm will arrive around Tuesday, February 4th.

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Short Term Forecast

It’s Monday morning and our storm is just moving into western Colorado. On its way to Colorado, this system dropped 3-6 inches on much of northern Utah with up to 10 inches at Snowbird and Alta. Projecting snow totals from Utah to us here in Colorado is not the right way to look every storm, but with this one, it feels like a reasonable approach based on the storm’s track and because it's intensity should be maintained or increase through Tuesday morning.

Expect snow to fall for most of the day on Monday which means that the best conditions should be during the midday and afternoon. The wind direction from about noon onward will be from the west and northwest and this should favor the northern mountains, some central mountains around Aspen, and also the northern side of the southern mountains (Telluride, Silverton).

The CAIC WRF 2km snow forecast map for Monday and Monday night shows a general 3-6 inches for most spots with a few 7-10 inch bullseyes as well.

Something that I am watching for is snow continuing in the northern mountains on Monday night after lifts close, roughly from 4 pm to about midnight. The storm will be strengthening to our east, moisture will linger, and the winds will be from the northwest. I am remembering last week when Vail, Copper, Breckenridge, and Loveland saw a surprise with more snow than expected due to northwest flow. Monday night’s set up is not identical (no jet stream overhead) but otherwise has some similar factors. All of the mountains I just listed have snow stake cams, and we show them here on OpenSnow, so it’s a cinch to refresh the cams a few times on Monday night to see if we are getting a surprise.

Elsewhere on Monday night, some models show a wind from the west and west-northwest hanging on for Steamboat, so keep an eye on their summit snow stake cam, though it has been reading low for the last 1-2 weeks and I am not sure why. And a northwest wind at Telluride and Silverton can be a great setup for them, so something to watch there as well. Telluride has a snowstake cam to view, and for Silverton, we can watch the SNOTEL sites on Red Mountain Pass and the one called “Beartown” to get an estimate for how much snow might fall at the mountain, though neither of these sites offer a perfect estimate.

Tuesday morning should offer soft turns (maybe deeper turns if there is a surprise on Monday night) but otherwise, the day should be on the drier side as we’ll be in between storms.

The next system will bring snow on Wednesday and Wednesday night. This storm will dive far south of Colorado and will bring a wind from the northeast on Wednesday afternoon and Wednesday night. A northeasterly wind should favor mountains near and especially east of the divide. I have my eye on places like Eldora and the eastern foothills for the potentially higher totals late Wednesday into Thursday morning.

Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday should be dry for most mountains. It’s possible that the northern mountains could see clouds and light snow from Friday into Saturday but this is still uncertain. From Sunday through Monday chances are high that all mountains will enjoy two days of warm weather. I received an email from a person visiting Colorado with their trip starting on Sunday and they were worried about my forecast for warm weather. Do not worry – two days of warm weather in early February won’t appreciably change our snowpack though there could be melt/freeze crust in the morning with conditions softening by late morning and midday.

Extended Forecast

I am closely watching our next storm which should arrive around Tuesday, February 4th.

Some model versions show a strong storm.

Some model versions show the storm just missing us and tracking to the north and east.

And the average of many model versions show the storm hitting us, and with forecasts 7+ days into the future, it’s best to focus on the average so that we do not flip flop the forecast with every new model run.

Based on the averages, expect a strong-ish and cold storm around Tuesday, February 3rd. And then we could see another storm later that week or around the weekend of February 8-9. NOAA’s 8-14 outlook keeps us in the zone of above-average precipitation thanks to these potential storms.

Thanks for reading!

My next update will be on Tuesday morning.

JOEL GRATZ

Announcements

Something cool!

Bluebird Backcountry is opening a human-powered ski area in Kremmling, Colorado. I've been following this project for two years and it's awesome to see it come to fruition (starting a ski area is NOT easy). Check out their Kickstarter for more info.

Geography Key

Northern Mountains
Steamboat, Granby, Beaver Creek, Vail, Ski Cooper, Copper, Breckenridge, Keystone, Loveland, Arapahoe Basin, Winter Park, Berthoud Pass, Eldora, Rocky Mountain National Park, Cameron Pass

Along the Divide
Loveland, Arapahoe Basin, Winter Park, Berthoud Pass

East of the Divide
Eldora, Echo, Rocky Mountain National Park, Cameron Pass

Central Mountains
Aspen, Sunlight, Monarch, Crested Butte, Irwin, Powderhorn

Southern Mountains
Telluride, Silverton – north side of the southern mountains | Purgatory, Wolf Creek – south side of the southern mountains

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