Good Sleeping Weather

Monday 9/20 1:30 pm

Cooler air will settle in tonight, tomorrow morning we’ll see the lowest temps of the rest of the week.

The models did not initialize well on temps this morning. This is an ongoing struggle in our area. The models are often wrong with their overnight low-temperature forecasts. The five main models I usually reference here were wrong by 7 to 12 degrees in the lower and mid-elevation areas. They fared much better at and above 9,000 feet.

I think the Canadian has the best handle on tomorrow morning’s temperatures. Here is its forecast.

The rest of the week looks like a return to boring-nice conditions. The models are still trying to get a handle on the potential for some late weekend rain in the Sunday/Monday timeframe.

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That Was A Nice Change Of Pace

Sunday 9/19 10:15 am

Scattered showers delivered modest amounts of precipitation throughout the forecast area last night.  Amounts were generally 0.25″ inches or less, however, a few locations in Montezuma and Dolores counties reported 0.30″ to 0.50″.

Most models show only a slight chance of rain re-developing today. The NAM 3km high-resolution model is the exception, it is more aggressive, we’ll see. If anything develops, the areas that received the most rain overnight would be favored.

The highly touted cold front is just reaching NW Wyoming, it will continue to work its way southeast. Not much has changed, it still looks like impacts will be minimal. The coldest air will stay north and east of us. Tuesday will be the coldest morning of the week. Tomorrow afternoon I will update everyone on overnight lows. Far eastern portions of the forecast area will be at the greatest risk of freezing temps in all elevations. My followers from Wolf Creek to Alamosa will all likely see some freezing temps as well.

The models are in agreement that the ridge will move back in over the area and temps will warm back up. This is the consensus until we approach the weekend. By the weekend the GFS and the Canadian models are showing a closed low working in from southern California, eventually bringing in some rain and snow. The Euro shows nothing but a strengthening ridge and warm temps. So, there may be something to talk about mid to late week.

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Still A lot of Weather Questions For The Next 72 hours

Saturday 9/18 8:40 am

Most of the models are trending towards a wetter solution for later today and tomorrow than they were yesterday. The exception is the Canadian model, which so far, is more partial to clouds than actual rainfall reaching the ground.

The models seem to be picking up on a slight disturbance to our west. As it approaches they are showing moisture increasing substantially, mostly after 2 pm today. This moisture will peak late this evening and into the overnight hours. The moisture then slowly erodes starting around 9 or 10 am Sunday and conditions will dry out significantly by Monday and Tuesday. I am still expecting near-freezing temperatures by Tuesday morning for low and mid-elevations with much colder conditions at or above 8,800 feet.

Here are the latest model runs showing a slight uptick in precipitation accumulation. The GFS is by far the most aggressive. I am anxious to see the next set of model runs later today.

Canadian (the outlier)

Weather Prediction Center blended model


Euro (this is better than its previous run)

GFS (most aggressive)

I did just look at the NAM 3km (North American Mesoscale high-resolution model), it is still in the middle of processing data, but it is trending towards a later start time for the precipitation. It is also slower to erode the moisture on Sunday.

Basically, there are still a lot of balls up in the air for this little disturbance. There are also a number of different solutions for the cold front passing to our north late Sunday/early Monday. At least it is something to talk about.

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Finally, Something To Talk About

9/17 Friday 8:45 am

The models have introduced a little moisture for the weekend. Nothing exciting, but something to keep an eye on. Everything is so dry I suspect the models are a little too ambitious. I would be surprised if anything reaches the ground below 8,500 feet, but we will see. If it comes together, the best chances would be Sunday afternoon, but there is a very slight chance of late-day rain on Saturday.

The models are less clear about the cold front passing to our north late Sunday into Monday. I am not sure how much it will impact us. I do know that the models have been horrible at forecasting the overnight/morning low temps. The Euro and GFS have consistently been 7 to 10 degrees too warm. The Canadian has been nearly perfect. The Canadian is forecasting near-freezing temps in the lower and mid-elevations Tuesday morning. Mountain temps are forecasted to be in the mid to upper 20’s by Tuesday morning. The Euro and the GFS are not as cold, but as I said they have been wrong lately.

I will be following this and will be updating everyone over the coming days in case people have outdoor vegetation they need to protect.

Here are the latest deterministic model runs showing the precipitation developing this weekend.  I put the maps in motion from Saturday morning through Tuesday morning.



Here is the same time period showing the track of the cold front.




Notice how the ridge begins to quickly fill back in (unfortunately) as the front exits to the east.

Here is the latest run of the Euro weekly showing the snow forecast through October.

That’s it for now, next update Saturday morning. Thanks for following and supporting the site!

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An Early Look At Winter

Saturday 9/11/21 8:25 am

Everybody should know by now that I am not a big fan of boring weather. I have a confession to make, if the weather has to be boring, and the temperatures have to be slightly above average then the fall isn’t such a bad time for it to happen. Yesterday morning I was waiting for a tire repair sitting outside. The low humidity with the temperatures in the 70s was pretty nice, I have to admit.

If you too like these conditions I have good news, there is a lot more of that on the way. It is not going to last forever, and at this point, I don’t believe it is reflective of our upcoming winter. In the short term, there is just a slight chance of some mostly dry, afternoon high elevation convective showers developing Sunday afternoon.

Smoke from existing fires should not be an issue. The other day I mentioned the AQI monitor near the train was an anomaly. To clarify, I was not saying to ignore that reading, it is a real reading. It is an anomaly because it doesn’t reflect the air quality of the entire town, just that localized area.

Here is what boring-nice looks like over the next couple of weeks. When I talk about storms, not monsoonal flow, not afternoon convection, real storms, I am talking about upper air disturbances. During the fall we usually see the first low-pressure systems drop down from Canada into the lower 48 in late September and October.

To identify these, forecasters look at the upper air heights parameter of the ensemble model runs. They refer to these “charts” or maps as we now call them as “the 500 millibar”.  So let’s look at the 500 mb for the next 15 days. First from the GFS ensemble mean forecast, then from Euro ensemble mean forecast. The blue indicates below-average heights (storminess), the yellow indicates above-average heights (usually benign, boring-nice weather). Are you enjoying my more positive take on boring weather?




Both models show a disturbance trying to dig in around the 21st. At the moment, they show it too far north to affect us. Things can change, and I will be keeping an eye on it.

We are going to have beautiful colors this year. This became evident to me with the precipitation we received in August. It is something I’ve meant to talk about but was reminded of the other day by the be snippet in the Durango Herald. I got an email from a loyal supporter of the site who was visiting Aspen. There was just a splash of color and he was trying to take a picture to send me. Because the colors were just starting the picture didn’t turn out as he hoped. I responded by saying delayed colors = great colors! That is what we are in for this year, and it was the impetus for me to dig out my photography equipment.

For the colors to be even better, here is the scenario we need. We need just a bit more rain. It does not have to be a lot, just a bit. Then we need a cold front to drop in. At this point, the origin is not that important. Ideally, it would be a west coast low that drifts across northern Arizona and southern Utah. That would be the best-case scenario, because it is likely that it would bring snow, especially above 8,000 feet. Even if we got a dry cold front from the northwest after a bit of rain it would really pop the colors. Specifically, below freezing at 6,500 feet. That is why I am keeping an eye on the upper air pattern to see if something becomes of that feature I mentioned earlier that shows up 10 days from now.

This is the time of year I start getting asked about winter. The Farmer’s Almanac forecast is out. There are even a few commercial preliminary forecasts out. One is Weather Bell Analytics. They do a pretty job every year. They consult corporations that have a vested interest in the weather, usually in energy and agriculture. They will update this preliminary forecast a couple of times before December when meteorological winter officially begins. They are calling for an average winter for our area, both in temperatures and precipitation.

I take preliminary winter forecasts pretty lightly. I am more interested in how they arrive at their conclusions. If a winter forecast is based solely on ENSO (El Nino, La Nina) I usually dismiss it completely. El Nino and La Nina are very small factors in our area. The heaviest snowfall winters in our area have been in ENSO neutral winters, referred to by some as La Nada. For what it is worth right now here is WeatherBell’s preliminary winter forecast.

Snowfall-From first flake to last flake as they say.

Courtesy Weather Bell Analytics LLC


Courtesy Weather Bell Analytics LLC

Here is the latest Euro weekly 46-day snowfall forecast  (through October 24th).

Here is a wider view of that so you can see how much of that early season snow is staying in Canada.

It will be here before we know it.

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Update Delayed

Friday 9/10 8:15 am

There is very little to talk about in the short term, even over the next 7-10 days. We are in a typical fall boring pattern. I do have a lot to talk about regarding the longer term. I have a lot on my plate today, but I should be able to work on it later today and early tomorrow. I am looking forward to sharing this information with you,  I am going to update you on the latest Euro weekly run, as well as the continuing La Nina and a look at this winter. I should have that out by 10 am Saturday.

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In Other Weather News…

Tuesday 9/7 9:35 am

We are stuck in a boring weather pattern regionally. I have not posted in several days. When that happens I get a little “itchy”.  I want to post something, and I know a handful of followers would like to read something from me. So I need to look for content. I will stick to the weather but first, I want to encourage readers to use the blue link that they normally use for weather reports to send me fall foliage updates. If you stumble across an area that is starting to change colors or is progressing nicely towards the peak, let me know. I will not only share it with the readers but I will use it personally. I have enjoyed photography since I was a kid. I decided right before the pandemic hit to pursue the hobby more aggressively. I never really got going, but have decided to jump back in this fall.

We are currently stuck under a dome of high pressure. This is pretty common during the fall months. This is a particularly stubborn ridge. Usually, when this happens in the fall, you have big swings with cool temperatures at night and above-average temperatures during the day. This had been the case until last night. The haze limited the overnight cooling.

Here is a quick look at the air quality index (AQI).

When you see that anomalously high reading in Durango, don’t worry, it is only the Train.

Again, readings under a hundred are not going to affect you. Reading above 100 can affect sensitive groups of people with respiratory problems. Above 150 will affect just about everyone, but usually only after 24 hours or so of continual exposure.

So I mentioned above-average temperatures, here is what that looks like from the GFS and European ensemble (multi) model forecast. These are the high-temperature anomalies for the next week that show how high above average these models are forecasting.



As I said, this is averaged over a seven-day period. Some days may be warmer, some days may be cooler than this.

I briefly mentioned the “Ensemble” models earlier. Ensemble refers to the family of individual models that get lumped together to create the forecast. I like using them to look for pattern changes. The forecast becomes the mean of all of those model runs. The Euro has 51 members, the GFS has 21 members.

When I am tracking an active storm I look at the ensembles, but I give a lot more weight to the daily runs of the individual model. These are called deterministic runs. They are a single version of the model, not the mean of the ensemble.

With no storm or no sign of any storm available to track, I defer to the ensemble models. The ensembles show no meaningful precipitation for the next several days. Precipitation does not even enter the forecast until Sunday, and that is not for everyone. Here is a regional view of the ensembles beginning Saturday, September 11th, through midnight September 23rd for the GFS and 6 pm September 22nd for the Euro. This shows precipitation occurring over a 6 hour period. The darkness of the shading correlates to the amount of precipitation. The darker the shade, the heavier the precipitation. The heaviest shades would be in green and blue, which does not happen very often here.



One thing that you may have noticed is that the frequency of precipitation picks up towards the end of the model cycle. That is how I like to look for pattern changes.

There is not a lot of tropical development to talk about in the short term, I have my eyes on a couple of things and will share that in the coming days.

The Euro weeklies came out last night. They are starting to show a little more color (snowfall) on the map. The weeklies are also based on the ensembles’ mean runs. Here is the total snowfall (before melting) through Thursday, October 21st.

My next post will likely be Friday but maybe sooner if I see something I want to share. Thanks in advance for the heads up on the fall colors, and thanks for following and supporting the site!

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A Look Ahead

Friday 9/3 9:30 am

With the exception of some of the northern and eastern portions of the forecast area, storms could not get going yesterday. Cool cloudy days are always a nice alternative in the early days of fall. Just a couple of hundredths fell across southern portions of the forecast area. Here are some of those totals across the northern and eastern portions of the forecast area.

Telluride 0.17″ Cortez 0.14″ Dolores 0.15″ Ridgway 0.15″ Ouray 0.09″ Egnar 0.59″ (located in southeast San Miguel County) and an unincorporated area in northeast San Miguel County reported 0.76″

The haze will return to the entire forecast area today. Haze does not equal dangerous smoke conditions. For those interested, here is the smoke forecast for the next 48 hours.

For those of you who like my hurricane discussions, Larry will not affect the United States. We are headed into a period of unfavorable tropical development until mid-month. The areas that have been hit so far remain the most vulnerable and likely targets through the end of the season. Especially the western Gulf Of Mexico (Texas and Louisiana).

For today, above-average moisture remains in place under southwest flow. CAPE values will be low once again today. The best chance of afternoon storms will be over the higher terrain and northern portions of the forecast area.

We have had a good start to the month for precipitation for most of the forecast area. The models are pretty consistent in keeping dry air in place for the next week or so. This would limit convection to the highest terrain.

The models are split by next weekend. The GFS is showing a pattern change with the ridge breaking down and sub-tropical moisture moving back into the area for a few days. The Euro is showing dry conditions for its entire 10-day forecast period. We have quite a while to figure all of that out. We have made a huge dent in the drought locally. If we can finish the second half of September strong we will be in a good place going into winter.

Speaking of winter, The Euro weeklies are out on Mondays and Thursdays. They provide guidance for up to 46 days. They tend to have a warm bias to their forecast after two weeks. That being said, they are fun for snow lovers to look at. I like to include them in my updates this time of year. Here is the latest 46-day snow forecast (before melting) for the region.

Here is the 46-day liquid-equivalent precipitation anomaly forecast. This shows average to slightly above average precipitation for this period in our area.

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That Was Fun!

Thursday 9/2/21  9:00 am

It was a wet Wednesday indeed! Yesterday we experienced what is called stratiform precipitation, my favorite. Which is consistent moderate rain falling for an extended period of time over a widespread area. Most models were too low with their forecasts, especially given the fact that the totals I posted were two-day totals.

We won’t experience stratiform precipitation today. Today, we will go back to isolated afternoon thunderstorms. More on that later.

Here are the totals so far. I tried to group them as best as I could geographically.

DW1&2  1.10″-1.30″  Hesperus 1.1″-1.30″  Lake Durango 1.15″  Rafter J 0.87″-1.03″  Wildcat Canyon 1.02″  Shenandoah 1.35″  Mancos (town) 0.44″(Elkstream) 0.66″  Red Mesa/Marvel 0.73-1.30″ Dolores 0.75″  Cortez 0.75″  Rico 0.40″

Telluride 0.25″-0.36″  Silverton 0.39″ Ouray 0.13″  Ridgway (nil)

Durango reports 0.70″, 0.75″, 0.75″, 0.78″ 0.68″  Skyridge 0.70″

Hermosa Cliffs 0.95″  Twilight Peaks 0.95″  Lake Purgatory 0.75″  Lakewood Meadows 1.61″  Tamarron 0.82″ Hermosa 0.89″ Bar D 0.90″  Falls Creek 0.85″-0.94″  Trimble 0.80″

Florida River Estates 0.76″  Los Ranchitos 0.70″  Vallecito 0.98″-0.99″  Forest Lakes 0.73″  3 Miles north of Bayfield 1.30″ Pagosa 0.61″, 0.54″, 0.72″

Gem Village 1.02″ Ignacio 0.82″  Bondad 0.59″ Aztec 0.58″

Edgemont and Bayfield are not on the list because they lack personal weather stations on the network.

Today is a more difficult forecast. There is an area of low pressure in East-Central Utah that is producing southwest flow into the forecast area.

Here is the latest surface map.

According to the real-time satellite analysis, the low is spinning just north of the area indicated on the surface.

High-resolution models are indicating limited CAPE values today. However, the cloud cover parameter from the same model shows clouds diminishing after 12 pm. This may give enough time to sufficiently heat things up to fuel the residual moisture in the atmosphere and develop isolated thunderstorms. Depending on the shortwave’s track it could also enhance convection. The models are not handling that piece of the equation very well.

At this point, I can’t rule out isolated to scattered thunderstorms. A lot of areas are fairly saturated right now after yesterday. If a thunderstorm does develop and produces heavy rains it could be an issue. I will be keeping a close eye on the situation.

The smoke may return on Friday, nothing dangerous. More on the mid to long-term outlook, and Friday’s smoke forecast on my update tomorrow.

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Wet Wednesday

9/1/21 9:15 am

Heavy rain is falling in  Southwest Utah, East-Central Utah, and Northeast Arizona. The main weather maker is still somewhere west of Vegas.

Locally the radar at first glance looks promising, but I suspect very little of that rain is making it to the surface yet.

The models are indicating that the rain will fill in across the forecast area between 10 am and 1 pm today. Other than that there is very poor agreement on how much rain will fall and where the bands will set up. This is usually the case for us. Let’s start with the more optimistic models and end with the most pessimistic model.



Here is the NDFD which is a National Weather Service blended model


WPC Weather Prediction Center blended model


If something changes with the models between now and this afternoon I will post again later today, otherwise, my next update will be Thursday morning. Thanks for following and supporting the site!

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