Sunday Afternoon Update

Published Sunday 4/11 at 1:30 pm

Before I jump right into the pattern change, I want to address one of the most common questions I get this time of year. Here was one email I got this morning.

“I have been wondering if the big winds we’ve been experiencing this past week are a kind of “annual” predictable event or just random. April seems often to be a windy month. Is that because of the change of seasons or something else?”

During the Spring months, two factors work together to create strong winds. By  April, the polar jet stream has started moving northward but can still drop far enough south to affect the southwest states. Meanwhile, the sun angle is getting higher in the sky and creating greater heating near the surface. The heated surface air rises during these spring months, often to a height between 7,500 and 10,000 feet above the surface. The rising air mixes with stronger winds aloft, resulting in stronger and turbulent winds mixing down to the surface. Strong surface pressure gradients can enhance surface winds. High wind events can also occur with strong surface fronts.

The models have been all over the place over the last 24 hours with their precipitation forecasts.  This morning the GFS showed very light precipitation through Friday for our area then a big storm rolling in for the weekend. This run was similar to what the Euro showed yesterday morning. The Euro has gone to a very conservative look and shows a very small system for next weekend.

This type of setup is another one of those that are difficult for the models to time each event. I was reading the AFD (area forecast discussion) from the Front Range NWS office this morning. They have a lot at stake because if everything comes together just right (as the GFS predicts), Denver, the foothills, and NE Plains could see a massive winter storm. They said in their guidance that it will be difficult to forecast more than 24 hours out, over the next 7 days at least.

Here is the latest GFS

Liquid precipitation over the next 10 days

GFS Snowfall (before melting) over the next 10 days

This is in stark contrast to the Euro this morning

Euro

Liquid precipitation over the next 10 days

Euro snow (before melting) over the next 10 days

That is a big difference for sure. One thing that is for sure is either solution would be better than what we have experienced over the last 10 days.

Speaking of dry conditions, I came across a photo I wanted to share. We hear so much about the drought these days people are under the impression that it is an anomaly. Here is a photo in 1908 when the Ohio River dried up in Bridgeport, Ohio. This river is usually full of barge traffic.

For us, it still looks like precipitation will hold off until Tuesday.

My next update will be Monday afternoon. This morning I posted the details of the 2nd annual prize drawing. If you have not seen the details and are interested you can read them here:  Second Annual Drawing For Cash Prizes

Thanks for following and participating in the contest again this year!

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Second Annual Drawing For Cash Prizes

Published 4/11/21

If you are a new follower and just joined us in the last 9 months or sooner, you may not be aware of the contest we had last year. We were in the early stages of Covid 19. Businesses had abruptly shut down and we were shopping empty supermarkets looking for toilet paper. At the time, we were under the impression that the shutdowns were temporary and that we would resume our normal lives soon. My thought was that I would have a contest and do a drawing for cash prizes that people could spend at local businesses as they opened up.  Fast forward over a year and although some restaurants and small businesses are getting closer to getting by, they are not thriving. With 44% of La Plata County at least partially vaccinated, hopefully, things will be getting back to normal, or at least we will have fewer restrictions soon.

Much of what I do on this site is based upon feedback I get from followers. I thought about the contest a couple of months ago, but no one had asked about it. About three weeks ago, almost one year from the day we started the contest last year, I started getting emails from people asking me when (not if) I was going to start this year’s contest. After a lot of emails, I determined there was enough interest to do it again.

Last year I started with one grand prize of 2 tickets to the Durango Wine Festival Grand Tasting. Then shortly after we found out that was canceled. They have canceled it again this year so I am going to stick with the same format I settled on last year. I will start with 3 cash prizes. A $100 prize. A $150 prize and a $250 prize. Shortly into the contest, a couple of businesses reached out with gift cards to add to the prizes. If you have a local business and want to participate just shoot me an email. The drawing for the contest will be Wednesday, May 26th. That is 6 weeks from now, which is slightly shorter than last year, but I want to get money into the winners’ hands before Memorial Day weekend. All you have to do to enter is donate. Within 24 hours I will send you an email confirming your entry.

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Somethings Are Catching My Eyes

Saturday 4/10/21 10:45

Two weeks ago was my last post. I said as things catch my eyes I will post. As is more often the case than not, this shoulder season has brought a lot of boring weather.

The last few days I have been seeing signs of a pattern change starting early this week which could bring a better chance of precipitation for the state in form of mountain snow and lower and mid-elevation rain.

A series of systems will start to cross the Northern Rockies beginning tomorrow. Initially, the biggest factor will be wind. As the northern jet starts to drop back south, the pressure gradient tightens and our winds increase. When you look at a surface map from a weather model you can “see” the wind, long before it arrives.

Below is the Euro’s forecast for precipitation type and “thickness”–which is basically an indication of air pressure in the atmosphere. The squiggly red and blue lines on the map show the tightening pressure gradient. The closer the lines are together, the windier it will be. I circled the compression area in yellow.

Also, the lower the number associated with the lines, the colder the air. That blue 540 line indicates snow reaching the ground at 5,000′ elevation.

With that in mind, I will put the maps in motion to see what is ahead for us, at least according to the Euro model.

This is the period beginning  Monday morning 4/12  through Monday, April 19th.

Here is what the Euro show for precipitation totals during the same period.

 

 

 

And here is the snow before melting.

So there may be some issues with mountain travel during the period. The other models are slowly evolving into this pattern change. At the moment, it looks like the first bout of precipitation will enter the forecast sometime on Tuesday.

At this point, any precipitation is going to be great. Everything I am reading and following shows below-average precipitation from April through June. But the good news is that nearly there is widespread agreement that the monsoon will make a return this year and lead to normal to slightly above normal precipitation this summer!

I got a number of emails asking whether or not I was going to do another contest and drawing this year.  Why not? Tomorrow I will unveil all the details but it will be similar to last year. I am planning on drawing the Wednesday before Memorial Day. I am also planning on the same prize structure with $250, $150, and $100. Donors who are on a monthly plan are already entered. Vendors if you want to contribute gift cards/certificates or merchandise, email me and I will add them to the prize list.

Thanks for following!

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Saturday Snowpack Update

Saturday 3/27/21 1:45 pm

As promised, the snowpack has greatly improved over the last week! I added the totals from a week ago next to the new totals so you can compare the improved numbers to the pre-storm cycle readings.  If you missed the post last week where I explained how to read this table, you can find an explanation here

I circled a couple of dates for the Cascade readings to point out that those sites are already past their peak dates. They are bringing down the Basin Index.

There is not a lot to talk about in the short term. We should experience a brief warm-up through Monday. Monday night through late Tuesday another system will clip areas to our north. At the moment, it looks like Telluride could get a couple of inches of snow. Just a heavy dusting for other areas. Wednesday will be cool, then we should experience a dramatic shift to warmer weather.

I am no longer seeing a storm around Easter, but there are some signs that we will go into a more active period of weather around or after April 8th.

I will be keeping my eye on the situation and will post as I see things that catch my eye. Thanks for following and supporting the site!

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A Great Week!

Published Friday at 10:50 am

What a wonderful storm cycle this week. Thanks for all of the reports this morning. There are a lot of happy people out there! North Valley locations around Hermosa and Falls Creek finally got in on the action last night with several reports of 5 to 7 inches. All of the resorts did very well over the last few days and the snow continues to fall as I write this (9:30 am).

The lower elevations received about what I expected. Durango was on the higher side of my forecast. Areas east of Durango did better overall than areas west of Durango (south of Hermosa). Along the 240 corridor, the higher elevations between 7,800′ and 8,400′ feet were reporting 8 to 12 inches this morning!

So now what? Good question. The cold front is still stretched across Utah according to all of the surface maps.  Although some slightly drier air has worked into the lower levels in our area, the radar and water vapor are showing snow accompanying the front.

Here is the surface map showing the front stretched across Utah and the snow (in blue) along the front.

Here is the water vapor loop showing the wetter atmosphere along the front (I circled the moisture in red)

A few scenarios are possible:

1) Dry air could overtake that moisture before the front goes through our area

2) The front could push that moisture over our area later today, leading to mixed precipitation in the lower elevations with more snow in the other areas

3) The front comes through very quickly with snow squalls and then northwest flow kicks in on the backside of the front

The models don’t handle these situations well. They are mixed with most showing snow continuing in the higher elevations throughout the day with light additional accumulations.

One thing we were reminded of this week is to expect the unexpected when it comes to spring storms.

I will be watching the situation but if snow starts to pick up in areas other than the resorts let me know. For today, I expect snow to continue on and off at Purgatory. Wolf Creek looks like it is still moderately snowing. Telluride will eventually transition to Northwest flow and the snow should pick up later today.

I will do a Saturday Snowpack report tomorrow. Thanks for following and supporting the site!

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Here Comes Another Round!

Published Thursday at 2:20 pm

I am sorry I am a little late with this. I was surprised with how much the morning model runs increased their precipitation totals for the new storm. So I waited until the noon model run came out from the high-resolution model to see if it concurred with the morning run. It did!

It was an interesting morning with snow continuing around the noon hour at Purgatory and Wolf Creek. The airmass was so saturated this morning that it took very little energy to produce snow showers. Pre-frontal moisture should stream into the area as the day goes on. Heavier snow will develop in all areas by dark. The models have increased their precipitation totals on the morning runs.

Winter Weather Advisories go into effect at 3 pm this afternoon for the SW San Juans and Wolf Creek Pass.

COZ019-252100-
/O.CON.KGJT.WW.Y.0022.210325T2100Z-210327T0000Z/
SOUTHWEST SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS-
INCLUDING THE CITIES OF SILVERTON, RICO, AND HESPERUS
248 AM MDT THU MAR 25 2021

…WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM 3 PM THIS
AFTERNOON TO 6 PM MDT FRIDAY…

* WHAT…SNOW EXPECTED. TOTAL SNOW ACCUMULATIONS OF 6 TO 12
INCHES WITH LOCALLY HIGHER AMOUNTS POSSIBLE.

* WHERE…SOUTHWEST SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS.

* WHEN…FROM 3 PM THIS AFTERNOON TO 6 PM MDT FRIDAY.

* IMPACTS…TRAVEL COULD BE VERY DIFFICULT.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

URGENT – WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE PUEBLO CO
345 AM MDT THU MAR 25 2021

COZ068-251745-
/O.CON.KPUB.WW.Y.0018.210325T2100Z-210327T0000Z/
EASTERN SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS ABOVE 10000 FEET-
345 AM MDT THU MAR 25 2021

…WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM 3 PM THIS
AFTERNOON TO 6 PM MDT FRIDAY…

* WHAT…SNOW EXPECTED. TOTAL SNOW ACCUMULATIONS OF 5 TO 15
INCHES. WINDS GUSTING AS HIGH AS 35 MPH.

* WHERE…EASTERN SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS ABOVE 10000 FEET.

* WHEN…FROM 3 PM THIS AFTERNOON TO 6 PM MDT FRIDAY.

* IMPACTS…TRAVEL COULD BE VERY DIFFICULT. THE HAZARDOUS
CONDITIONS COULD IMPACT THE MORNING OR EVENING COMMUTE.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

SLOW DOWN AND USE CAUTION WHILE TRAVELING.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Here are the latest model runs. I am going back to using the liquid precipitation totals. With what is being forecasted, I am looking forward to seeing the snowpack totals. They always lag a day, so it will be Saturday and Sunday before we can see how much progress we made.

The totals are through Saturday morning. Most models show the snow shutting down by Friday night, but you never know.

GFS

Canadian

NAM 3km high-resolution

Euro #1

Euro #2

I use multiple service providers for models. Some are slightly different. What I refer to as “Euro#2” is nice because, unlike most service providers, this one differentiates the town of Durango from the airport and it separates Wolf Creek pass from Pagosa.

The snow forecast for low and mid-elevations is difficult because of the temperatures and high sun angle this time of year. The Euro seems a little too ambitious in the lower and mid-elevations. If this run of the Euro is correct I will be too low on my forecast in those areas.

Cortez:  1 to 3 inches before melting

Durango, Mancos, Dolores, Bayfield, Ignacio, Ouray:  2 to 5 inches before melting, with the highest totals above 7,000 feet

Mid elevations below 7,800 feet:  4 to 6 inches

Mid elevations at or above 7,800 feet:  4 to 8 inches

Telluride, Silverton, and Rico:  4 to 8 inches

Purgatory:  8 to 12 inches

Wolf Creek:  10 to 14 inches

Next Update Friday morning. Thanks for following and supporting the site!

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Lots Of Leftovers

Published Thursday at 7:10 am

As I said in previous posts, in some areas the lines would between when one storm would end and the other would start. That certainly seems to be the case overnight and this morning.  Yesterday, there was a shortwave trough that kept the snow going in many areas. Last night the shortwave trough finally broke off from the main front. Then, it retrograded into Arizona and is now negatively tilted stretching across Flagstaff.

If it is not snowing where you are, and you wonder what I am talking about. Here is the webcam from the top of Hesperus hill just a short time ago.

The new model runs will hopefully sort this out. The overnight run of the short-term high-resolution 3 km model picked up on this but it was not out until 2 am. It shows the snow continuing between the two systems. I am not saying that is going to happen before I see the latest model guidance.

Of all the surface maps I have seen this morning this one from Wunderground seems to have the situation figured out the best.

You can see our next storm coming onshore in California. Our last storm in Texas and the shortwave/leftovers stretched across Arizona.

I will post again later this morning, I just wanted to clarify that this is not the new storm.

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A Nice Start

Published Wednesday at 8:40 am

Thanks for the snow reports! There were very few surprises except for one. I got a report of 5 inches of snow from someone who lives on CR 305–which is west of the airport.

The models this morning are indicating that snow will continue or redevelop in and around the resorts. They indicate 2 to 5 inches of snow are still possible. Yesterday I mentioned the snow showers would continue throughout the day. My forecast was for the period ending Thursday morning.

For mid-elevations, light showers will be possible for the next couple of hours. If the sun comes out this afternoon, convection could develop and lead to brief snow squalls and or graupel. The lower elevations are right around 30 degrees and should be mostly done, but may see a quick shower yet this morning before things warm up.

The next system is still expected to start affecting the resort areas by Thursday afternoon, with snow spilling into the mid-elevations by late afternoon, and the lower elevations shortly after. There are no changes in the models for timing, track, and precipitation amounts for this next system.

Next Update Thursday afternoon, thanks for following and supporting the site!

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Snow Is On The Way!

Published Tuesday at 12:40 pm

Some of the weather models are really getting excited about this next round of snow. My biggest challenge is the timing between when this storm completely leaves our area and when the snow starts from the next system due to arrive late Thursday. My suspicion is that Telluride and Wolf Creek are going to blur the lines between the systems and may just see things taper off to very light snow throughout the day on Thursday before the next round comes in later that day.

A Winter Weather Advisory starts at noon today for 4 to 8 inches. Here is t wording or the WWA.

URGENT – WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE GRAND JUNCTION CO
343 AM MDT TUE MAR 23 2021

COZ018-019-231830-
/O.CON.KGJT.WW.Y.0021.210323T1800Z-210325T0000Z/
NORTHWEST SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS-SOUTHWEST SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS-
343 AM MDT TUE MAR 23 2021

…WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM NOON TODAY TO 6 PM MDT WEDNESDAY ABOVE 10000 FEET…

* WHAT…MODERATE TO HEAVY SNOW AT TIMES WITH TOTAL SNOW
ACCUMULATIONS OF 4 TO 8 INCHES AND LOCALLY HIGHER AMOUNTS. WINDS GUSTING AS HIGH AS 35 MPH.

* WHERE…NORTHWEST SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS AND SOUTHWEST SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS.

* WHEN…FROM NOON TODAY UNTIL 6 PM MDT WEDNESDAY. MUCH OF THE SNOW COULD MELT AS IT FALLS IN THE AFTERNOON HOURS WITH GREATER IMPACTS TO ROADWAYS DURING THE OVERNIGHT AND MORNING HOURS.

* IMPACTS…TRAVEL COULD BE VERY DIFFICULT.

Here is what the Pueblo NWS has for Wolf Creek.

COZ066>068-240130-
/O.CON.KPUB.WW.Y.0017.210323T2100Z-210325T0000Z/
LA GARITA MOUNTAINS ABOVE 10000 FEET-
UPPER RIO GRANDE VALLEY/EASTERN SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS BELOW
10000 FEET-EASTERN SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS ABOVE 10000 FEET-
1118 AM MDT TUE MAR 23 2021

…WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM 3 PM THIS
AFTERNOON TO 6 PM MDT WEDNESDAY…

* WHAT…SNOW EXPECTED. TOTAL SNOW ACCUMULATIONS OF 6 TO 12
INCHES.

* WHERE…EASTERN SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS ABOVE 10000 FEET.

* WHEN…FROM 3 PM THIS AFTERNOON TO 6 PM MDT WEDNESDAY.

* IMPACTS…TRAVEL COULD BE VERY DIFFICULT. THE HAZARDOUS
CONDITIONS COULD IMPACT THE MORNING OR EVENING COMMUTE.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

SLOW DOWN AND USE CAUTION WHILE TRAVELING.

Here are the models’ snowfall forecast totals between now and Thursday morning at 9 am. There will be melting throughout the day Wednesday. That being said, it looks like there could be a few bands that come through tomorrow morning which definitely could impact driving conditions, even below 6,500 feet.

NAM 3km high-resolution

This model is very bullish on snow totals. If it verifies, my forecasted totals will be too low. This model is projecting a storm track that would make the very most out of this storm system for our forecast area. I hope it is right but I am not going to go all-in on it.

Canadian

Euro

Travel could become very difficult over the passes from this evening through noon tomorrow. The lower elevations will be impacted from 3 am to 9 am tomorrow morning.

Here are my forecasts.

Cortez, Farmington, Aztec:  0 to 2 inches (before melting)

Durango, Mancos, Bayfield, Ignacio, Ridgway, Pagosa Springs:  1 to 3 inches (before melting)

Mid elevation including Ouray:  3 to 5 inches with higher amounts possible above 7,800 feet

Mayday, Purgatory, Telluride, Rico, Silverton: 5 to 9 inches

Wolf Creek: 8 to 11 inches

It is looking like the Thursday system is going to have very similar totals to this system if not a little higher.

Thanks in advance for the snow reports. Next Update Wednesday morning. As always, thanks for following and supporting the site!

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Monday Update On The Coming Storms

Published Monday at 1:15 pm

1 to 2 inches of snow fell last night from Telluride to Ouray and Silverton. At 10:45 this morning I was surprised to look outside my window in my home office and see a graupel/snow mix. This lasted about 15 or 20 minutes.

Here it was on the radar at the time.

Just a very localized little band of snow at the time. The radar currently depicts several similar little bands setting up mainly in the western portion of the forecast area. Don’t be surprised to see a few passing flakes above 7,500 feet this afternoon.

Here is the little shortwave trough to our west that is responsible for this activity. I did a poor job but I circled it in red.

For the rest of the day, there will be a few pop-up showers mainly in the mountains before they subside this evening.

Tuesday should start out uneventful. Later in the day snow showers will start in the higher elevations then drift down to the mid and lower elevations by late night. This will be in response to a low-pressure system moving through Arizona.  Snow showers will pick up slightly by morning in most areas, but precipitation may not make it to the ground below 6,500 feet. This will happen as the low-pressure system drifts just south of the four corners and into Central New Mexico. I expect we will see some nice surprises by late Wednesday or early Thursday morning.

Thursday will be another transition day as yet another system approaches our area. Snow will break out Thursday night and into Friday. The snow will finish up late on Friday.

I am going to stick with the same format as yesterday. Here are the models’ total liquid precipitation forecasts ending Saturday morning.

GFS (the old GFS version 15 has been discontinued)

Euro

Canadian

German

It appears we will go into a period of spring-like weather with warmer temperatures under a ridge of high pressure for at least 5 days (and maybe longer), starting next weekend.

Of course, I had to look out at the long-term model runs. The GFS crystal ball goes out 16 days. It is showing an Easter snowstorm. It is way too early to talk about(even though I just did). For now, just file it away to the back of your brain for a week or so.

The next Update will be Tuesday. Thanks for following and supporting the site!

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