Understanding The Weather Maps On This Page

Val and Les could see a fork in the road but they weren't expecting a dip.

Illustration Credit to Chris Taylor


I have gotten a lot of feedback from folks that usually sounds something like this: “Jeff,  thanks for what you do, we don’t really understand the maps, but we enjoy reading your posts regularly”.

I want to approach this from a basic level and cover two areas:

1) What the colors mean.

2) Where you as a reader are located.



This brings up a somewhat funny story from a couple of years back. There was a grumpy Rancher who absolutely despised the colors that are used on the snow maps. Every post he literally would tear into me about the colors, as if, I am in charge of picking them and my purpose in life was to deliberately pick all of the colors he despised just to ruin his day!

Here are the typical (Rancher dreaded) colors that are displayed with the snowfall forecasts. On the far left side you 0 inches, on the far right side you see 48 inches of snow. Every color corresponds to an amount on the sliding scale.

Screenshot 2020-03-06 at 9.24.06 AM

The precipitation scale (rain or liquid snow) works exactly the same way, just different colors. O inches on the far left, 20 inches on the far right. Where the light blue turns yellow, it is 1 inch.

Screenshot 2020-03-06 at 9.31.20 AM

Here is what that looks like on the map don’t worry about locations yet, I will get to that in a minute.



For now, just look at the colors and how they correlate to different areas on the map. All of the numbers refer to inches of snow for those locations-which I will get to in a minute.

Here is the total liquid precipitation because not all areas will get snow.


Map Locations

All different ages of people have problems reading maps, despite the belief that everyone relies on GPS these days. Myself, I am a map junkie. To this day I have a Delorme Atlas and Gazetteer on my desk most of the time. If Google is your thing have at it, there are billions of maps you can search in our area and if you live a bit off the beaten path, it is easy to match up the counties on these weather maps to what you see online.

Here is a statewide map with airport locations.


I usually limit my coverage to the SW Colorado area which limits us to approximately this area.

Screenshot 2020-03-06 at 12.32.26 PM


TEX- Telluride

CEZ- Cortez

FMN- Farmington

DRO- Durango

PSO- Pagosa Springs

E-33 Chama

Let’s leave AIB and E33 off the list, I usually do not attempt to forecast there.

On all of the weather maps, all of the counties are outlined lightly, if your phone is your main source you may have to zoom in.

I usually just focus on 7 1/2 counties. Here are the individual shapes of those counties. Google outlines them in red, you can search them just like I did.

San Miguel

Screenshot 2020-03-06 at 12.45.13 PM


Screenshot 2020-03-06 at 12.48.13 PM


Screenshot 2020-03-06 at 12.50.49 PM

San Juan

Screenshot 2020-03-06 at 12.53.13 PM

Montezuma-if you wondering what the blue dot is, it is Google displaying my current location in Durango West 2.

Screenshot 2020-03-06 at 12.55.42 PM

La Plata

Screenshot 2020-03-06 at 12.58.48 PM

Purgatory in northern La Plata County- notice the fine redline separating northern La Plata and Southern San Juan County

Screenshot 2020-03-06 at 1.00.57 PM

Archuleta County

Screenshot 2020-03-06 at 1.06.03 PM

And finally Mineral County

Screenshot 2020-03-06 at 1.07.53 PM

The only area I cover is Wolf Creek Pass-the best way to locate this is to follow the jog of the road on this map.

Screenshot 2020-03-06 at 1.09.48 PM

Using the weather maps you have to estimate based upon the small SE portion of the County, but it is usually just north of where you will see the highest totals on the map.

Hopefully, this gives you enough information to follow along. This is probably a lot to digest for now. I will be making a point to incorporate model resolution in my future updates because it makes a huge difference. Virtually all of southwest Colorado is affected by model resolution, as far as towns go Cortez and Pagosa are the most affected.

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3 thoughts on “Understanding The Weather Maps On This Page

  1. Ruth Ann Thompson

    Thanks – this was helpful. I finally figured out several weeks ago that if I clicked the map I could enlarge it. That was a big help. Thanks for all the info.

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