This Winter Storm Watch was issued prior to the release of the HWO I highlighted this morning in my update. I did not have time to elaborate on the early Winter Storm Watch this morning. I don’t like to simply post headlines and details without a good explanation. Stay tuned for that.
Before I go into the Winter Storm Watch I want to talk about today through tomorrow.
Showers and Snow Showers are streaming into the area as shown on radar at 10:30 am.
Compare that to the simulated radar from the NAM nest high-resolution 3km model for noon today.
This is really just a carryover from yesterday as the Pacific Ocean continues to churn in moisture.
Here is the NAM 3km’s take on total precip between Wednesday morning through Thursday morning.
And here is the snow, the higher “bullseye” amounts are in the La Plata’s and Needles above 12,000 feet.
Showers in most populated areas should taper off throughout the day. Thursday looks like it will be the break between moisture.
Early Winter Storm Watch Beginning Friday
So let’s take a closer look at this early blanket Winter Storm Watch and get right into it. By “blanket” I mean that it covers a large area and is short on specifics.
Here is the re-issuance from 10:45 am
URGENT – WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE GRAND JUNCTION CO
1042 AM MDT WED MAR 11 2020
SOUTHWEST SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS-
INCLUDING THE CITIES OF SILVERTON AND RICO
1042 AM MDT WED MAR 11 2020
…WINTER STORM WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM FRIDAY MORNING
THROUGH LATE FRIDAY NIGHT ABOVE 8500 FEET…
* WHAT…HEAVY SNOW POSSIBLE ABOVE 8500 FEET. TOTAL SNOW
ACCUMULATIONS OF 8 TO 16 INCHES POSSIBLE WITH LOCALLY HIGHER
AMOUNTS OF UP TO 20 INCHES.
* WHERE…SOUTHWEST SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS.
* WHEN…FROM FRIDAY MORNING THROUGH LATE FRIDAY NIGHT.
* IMPACTS…TRAVEL COULD BECOME VERY DIFFICULT TO IMPOSSIBLE
OVER THE HIGH PASSES ON HIGHWAY 550
One of the difficult things that the NWS, as well as all levels of Emergency Managers, have to balance is when to issue early warnings. If you wait too long or don’t act people can lose their lives. Guilty by omission. If you are a bit early the storm can go in a different direction and affect public opinion. That happens a lot in our area. As opposed to people in Hurricane areas, we uniquely get disappointed when the “dangerous” storm doesn’t hit. Believe me, it is a lot easier for me because I know my followers and I know what they want. So I feel a bit of an obligation to say, don’t get your heart set, yet, on these amounts.
There was a couple in from Austin this morning and they were already talking about Friday, more than likely after seeing a notification on a weather app. I heard them say “They say we are supposed to get 16-20 inches on Friday!” Well, maybe, somewhere, but in reality, it is too early to tell yet, and there is plenty of model disagreement about how much we will actually get at this point.
If you have heard me mention it once you have heard me mention it a hundred times, I always read the NWS area forecast discussion. While reading that, this morning something popped out at me, and I have seen this all winter long. The reference has been mentioned more times this season than I have seen in the 11 previous winters I have been here. Here it is.
“IN COORDINATION WITH THE PUEBLO OFFICE, HAVE ISSUED A
WINTER STORM WATCH FOR THE SOUTHWEST SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS WITH THIS
Don’t get me wrong, coordination with the surrounding offices is completely normal, expected really. But the fact that they are coordinating with Pueblo means they are most concerned with the western half of 160 up to Wolf Creek. Grand Junction’s forecast area does not cover Wolf Creek, Pueblo does. This year Grand Junction NWS has been incorporating Wolf Creek into their Warnings and Advisories. Again nothing wrong with this, but it is difficult in my opinion to always expect the same results at Purgatory as you would Wolf Creek, Wolf Creek has enjoyed 13 inches so far out of this storm cycle this week!
People see the advisories and look at the highest numbers “They say we’re supposed to get 16-20 inches on Friday!”
So let’s get into it, expect changes, you know the drill. Most models show the heavy moisture streaming in starting around 6 am Friday. Here is the 24 hour period ending Saturday at 6 am.
Euro 9km liquid
Euro 9km snow
Canadian 15km liquid
Canadian 15 km snow
GFS 13 km liquid
GFS 13km snow
There are still differences in the models, I have not yet picked a favorite. If Thursday morning’s model runs go wonky, I may be doing an overnight update as well to have it out by Friday morning!
In the 3 hours since I started this post, the snow at Purgatory has gone back and forth from light to moderate, to light to moderate, and I am sure it is accumulating up top so the 3 inches shown by the NAM 3km map I showed early may be pretty close!
I see some classic chunks falling at Telluride and Wolf Creek looks pretty socked in as well! The lower elevations keep getting light precipitation and as I mentioned the other day, it is beneficial to see light consistent amounts down low rather than all at once. It looks like it will be a great Spring Break!
Next Update Thursday. Thanks for following, and thanks for supporting the site!
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