I told you the “break” would be short but I was a little surprised to see snow first thing this morning. Snow levels are going to rise quickly this morning and drop quickly this afternoon. The last storm was interesting, overall Purgatory stole the show and was able to beat the models by 100%, with their 20″ storm total. I was up there yesterday and it didn’t stop, there was strong southwest flow above 8,500 feet and the faucet was pointed right at the mountain. That did not work in Telluride’s favor as they “only” got a foot out of the storm. I had warned that the flow would not be deep enough to favor Wolf Creek and they only reported 9″ with this storm, which is like a trace for them.
As I mentioned the snow levels will rise to about 7,800 feet and then drop between 2-4 pm this afternoon. I have mentioned the last couple of days that is going to be a quick mover, once again the bulk of the precipitation will fall all at once over about 6-10 hour period. Essentially it looks like all hell is going to break loose this afternoon. We could get very heavy snowfall rates, intense rain in some locations prior to snow, hail, thunderstorms, and high winds. Probably about the time everybody is trying to do something or go somewhere.
I hope this surprises no one, but it will, for some reason people have been pretty disengaged with the weather this week, I think most likely because the snow levels were higher and a lot of people are kind of “over it”. On Monday I tried to get the word out about this afternoon with this short post. Sneak Peak
When we look at thunderstorm potential we look at CAPE values (convective available potential energy). People in the midwest and south laugh at our CAPE values but we do get some exceptional thunderstorms throughout the year. These elevated CAPE values are present due to the cold front overtaking the warm air in front of it. Basically the higher the CAPE the greater the chance of instability the greater the chance of thunderstorms. The more intense the storm the higher likelihood that snow levels will drop more than the data suggests.
Here are the projected cape values for 2 pm.
All you need to know is the higher the value on the chart the more energy there is to produce to produce thunderstorms. This seems relatively low but in fact, it is quite high for March in the mountains.
There are going to be hits and misses with this storm. There are currently new advisories in effect above 8,000 feet.
NORTHWEST SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS-SOUTHWEST SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS-
INCLUDING THE CITIES OF TELLURIDE, OURAY, LAKE CITY, SILVERTON,
RICO, AND HESPERUS
303 AM MST FRI MAR 8 2019
…WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM 8 AM THIS
MORNING TO 8 AM MST SATURDAY ABOVE 8000 FEET…
* WHAT…SNOW, MODERATE TO HEAVY AT TIMES, ABOVE 8000 FEET. TOTAL
SNOW ACCUMULATIONS OF 5 TO 10 INCHES EXPECTED WITH LOCALLY
HIGHER AMOUNTS ON SOUTHWEST FACING SLOPES. WINDS GUSTING AS HIGH
AS 50 MPH WILL CREATE WHITEOUT CONDITIONS AT TIMES ABOVE 10000
FEET. THE HEAVIEST SNOW WILL FALL THIS AFTERNOON AND EVENING.
* WHERE…SOUTHWEST SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS AND NORTHWEST SAN JUAN
* WHEN…FROM 8 AM THIS MORNING TO 8 AM MST SATURDAY.
* ADDITIONAL DETAILS…TRAVEL WILL BE DIFFICULT DUE TO PERIODS OF
MODERATE TO HEAVY SNOWFALL AND AREAS OF BLOWING AND DRIFTING
SNOW. THE COMBINATION OF NEW SNOW AND WIND WILL KEEP THE
AVALANCHE THREAT HIGH.
I am in general agreement with this advisory. They have overreached the amounts that the models are predicting in some cases but I think that is ok because some areas could have some intense bands of snow set up over them.
The later we get in the day the more areas will turn to all snow so I am expecting some new snow on the ground by Saturday for nearly everyone. I think the Purgatory area is saturated and 10-15+” would not surprise me, it is already going pretty good now and I can only imagine what it will be like this afternoon. Telluride is in a better position to benefit on the back side of the storm, even though that never really happened with the last one, but I like 6-12″ from this fast mover. Wolf Creek, I am in the 10-15″ range for this one. I will try to dial in the mid and low elevations with my noon post. Overall, 1-4″ for lower elevations with 3-6″ for mid-elevations, but let’s see what the morning models bring us.
Next update at noon.