Friday Afternoon Update

Published at 1:50pm Friday

This storm is not “historic” for Denver and the foothills as I have been hearing and reading. This is a 20-year storm. It happened in 2003 when 30 inches fell in a storm in March. It also happened in December 1982 when 24 inches fell. I was there for both of those storms. In 1982 I was on my to Vail, and in 2003 I was living southwest of Denver near the foothills.

As I said yesterday, if this storm “busts” and Denver only gets 10 inches of snow, people will be reluctant to ever listen to a forecast again.

The old GFS is handling this storm poorly in its latest run. It has too much warm air in place which limits the low elevation snow totals. I expect that model will correct before the storm arrives tomorrow.

That does not mean there won’t be borderline temperatures. I would not be surprised to see some freezing drizzle before the snow starts in the Denver Metro area. There’s nothing like a fine layer of ice underneath 20 or so inches of snow! The current model consensus seems to be 18 to 30 inches depending on where you live. Denver’s elevation ranges from around 5,000 feet to 6,000 feet. That 1,000 feet difference makes a huge difference, and not just because of temperatures. It is more from orographic lift created in the upslope flow as the moisture runs into the foothills and mountains.

For our area, snow should be getting started tomorrow morning as people are waking up. If it has not started by 7 am, it just means the storm slowed down overnight.

I am going to hold off until the last minute to write my forecast, because there are still some model inconsistencies I am seeing, not only for our area but for the whole region. So I am not going to get too deep in the woods until Saturday morning.  Part of me is still hoping the storm will close off over our area and we’ll get more snow. I remember a similar thing happened in December 2008, so there is always a slight chance, but I would not bet on it. Today’s models, despite their problems, are much more accurate than they were back then.

So here are the latest model runs. Tomorrow I will enlarge the graphics a bit for our area and I will also correct for the higher snow ratios. These totals are through noon on Monday.

I am going to leave off the old GFS, hopefully, it will find its way on the next run.

New GFS beta



You will notice that the models are focusing on the western portions of our forecast area for slightly higher totals. Some of that is due to model resolution, but I have to think they are also picking up on some westerly flow components. Hopefully, that will become more clear by Saturday morning. The other thing I see is the uncharacteristically low snow totals for Purgatory and Wolf Creek. The totals are slightly lower than they had been in Telluride as well. This may mean less moisture will flow over the divide late Saturday and early Sunday.

If I have not emailed you back, I am going to work on that right now. If you need to email me and you need an answer today try to contact me before 5 pm when I stop looking at my emails for the day.

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