A Complicated Forecast

Published Friday 1/22/21 at 1:30 pm

These are the types of systems/series of systems that make forecasters pull their hair out. The models struggle with each event but generally do well over the extended period. I call this being right for the wrong reason. For this reason, earlier in the week I was posting 5-day totals and longer.

We have seen this before quite a few times. We may see a forecast between now and Monday, let’s just say for a foot of snow. Hypothetically, the models may show 4 inches by Saturday night and 8 more inches between Sunday morning and Monday morning for a total of 12 inches. But what actually happens is we get 10 inches by Saturday and 2 inches more by Monday for a total of 12 inches–right for the wrong reasons. This is all hypothetical of course, but I have gotten a couple of emails from people who are frustrated, just wanting to know how much and when. This is also why early on we get advisory wording saying “6 to 15 inches with locally higher amounts near 2 feet possible in some areas”

This is not close to the type of storm we had on Monday/Tuesday, which was much easier to forecast than the upcoming storms. The reason this happens is that you have bits and pieces of energy breaking of a larger system, and the models struggle with the size of the systems as they break apart. It also leaves a lot of opportunity for leftovers.

The first batch is on the way. Very light snow showers and or drizzle will give way to more consistent snow showers beginning this afternoon. Snow levels should lower to include the lower elevations by early evening. Snow should become heavier overnight and especially by sunrise. Snow showers will continue until around 5 pm to 8 pm Saturday but it will be considerably lighter after 1 pm. Rain or rain/snow mix will lead to some melting below 7,000 feet. Of course, that is only if the models are right for the RIGHT reason.

I normally would post maps at this point, but there are unusually large discrepancies between the highest resolution models and the medium resolution Euro model. I don’t want to confuse anyone so here is my take.

Between now and 8 pm Saturday night here is my forecast.

Cortez and Ignacio: 0- 2 inches which should melt Saturday afternoon.

Durango, Mancos, Bayfield, Ridgway, and Ouray: 2 to 5 inches which could partially melt Saturday afternoon.

Mid-elevations above 7,300 feet: 4 to 8 inches

Pagosa, Telluride, Silverton: 4 to 8 inches

Vallecito, Mayday, Purgatory: 7 to 12 inches

Wolf Creek: 10 to 14 inches

The next batch of snow will come in Sunday morning thru Sunday evening. It will be cooler.

I have not talked about the Winter Weather Advisory. It is still pretty loosely worded, and I am hoping that they are in the process of cleaning it up right now. I think they will have to add in the mid-elevation areas I just mentioned.  FYI They refer to these areas as “foothill locations”.

If or when this happens I will post my commentary on the final wording. If they don’t, my next Update will be tomorrow morning. Thanks for the reports, I am already starting to receive them. Thanks for following and supporting the site.

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One thought on “A Complicated Forecast

  1. Frank Masiarz

    Large snowflakes drifting down from the sky….north end of CR 228 at CR 502 !! Tell the people with demands for more accuracy to try to create a forecast themselves. It’s science…but not “an exact science” by any means.

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