More Good News Than Bad News

Published Saturday 1/16/21 at 12:45 pm

Any snow still falling in the higher elevations in the northern portion of our forecast area will come to an end today with very little if any accumulations. The first storm is slowing down in the models. This is good if you want to see better accumulations. It now looks like the models are expecting the snow to pick up very early Tuesday morning. A further slowdown would not surprise me.

The precipitation totals for the first storm are up with all of the models EXCEPT the Euro. The Euro last night started reducing precipitation totals, primarily in the lower elevations. The trend continued with the latest run today. That has decreased my confidence slightly. Tomorrow, the short-term Euro runs will cover the entire first storm so it will be very interesting to see how everything evolves. Usually the Canadian takes a cue from the Euro, but so far that has not happened. All of the other models look more similar to the GFS, amazingly similar. This may mean the Euro is an outlier and will come back to the higher amounts, or it could be the trendsetter. So it may be another 24-48 hours before we get a full model consensus.

GFS liquid

GFS snow

German liquid

German snow

Canadian liquid

Canadian snow

Here is what is now the outlier model, the European.

Euro liquid

Euro snow

 

For what it is worth all of the models are still showing another storm coming in on Friday and throughout next weekend. For now, I am going to take a “wait to worry” approach with the Euro.

Next Update Sunday, thanks for following and supporting the page!

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Monday-Tuesday Storm

Published at 2 pm Friday 1/15/21

Yesterday I talked about a series of storms that would start roughly on Monday or Tuesday with additional systems coming in every couple of days for an extended period of time. I showed the 10-day totals yesterday but today, I want to start concentrating on just the first system. This is the one that the models are currently agreeing will arrive late Monday or early Tuesday morning.

If things happen the way that the big three models agree that it will, this is going to be an interesting storm. The Euro, GFS, and Canadian are all forecasting a retrograding storm with snow filling in from the south and east. That could lead to different orographics than we usually experience and could lead to some interesting totals in different locations.

Here is what that looks like in animated form from the Euro model. Blue is snow, the darker the shade, the heavier the snow.

Because I am only showing the Monday/Tuesday totals ending on Wednesday morning, the totals are less than what I posted yesterday.  Don’t worry the long-term pattern still looks very intriguing.

Here is the GFS for storm one.

Liquid

GFS snow

German model liquid

German snow

Canadian liquid

Canadian snow

Euro liquid

Euro snow

Looking beyond that, the Euro and Canadian go crazy bringing in a big storm or series of storms starting next Friday and lasting throughout the weekend, the GFS shows a smaller storm followed by a large storm the following week.

The totals that the models are showing are very significant in the next 10 days. They are higher than what I posted yesterday. I am reluctant to post them because that second storm (or series of storms) is still a week away.

If I see several more model runs that agree with those amounts, or if I see the GFS getting on board with a bigger weekend storm, I will start posting the totals.

Confidence is growing for some much-needed snow on Tuesday, and I am very intrigued by the long term pattern showing up on the models. Next Update Saturday, thanks for following and supporting the page!

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The Models Are Showing Abundant Moisture Next Week

Published Thursday 1/14/21 at 2 pm

I meant to post sooner but I had to deal with some things. My wife’s Facebook page was hacked, the hacker set up a fraudulent ad for an underpriced Ford Raptor. The worst thing is they used my card to fund the campaign. I assume it was some type of phishing attempt. The ad account was tied to my card and they spent a huge amount of money in 6 hours. We spent most of the day resetting all of our online passwords. If you have an easy password, and I didn’t think ours were easy, you may want to take the time to update them. It’s one of those things you never think will happen to you.

Now, some good news. As I said the models are showing this mostly dry weather coming to an end beginning Monday or Tuesday with a series of storms headed our way. As I have said in the past, it is difficult to time the different storms but the predicted results and the model consensus look very encouraging!

Here are the models, I am showing the 10-day precipitation totals but keep in mind that with the exception of an inch or three in the mountains, the majority of the snow will fall after Monday. At this point, the models are showing all snow.

Canadian liquid equivalent

Canadian snow

Euro liquid

Euro snow

GFS liquid

GFS snow

I needed some good news, and this helps. Now I have something to talk about and I will be posting more frequently again! Next Update Friday afternoon, thanks for following and supporting the page.

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The Weather Models Have Covid

Published Saturday, January 9th at 8:30 am

What is now a small and weak disturbance will pass over us today and may generate flurries to heavy flurries for the 550 passes and Wolf Creek (especially on the east side). Of course, once it passes us and heads into central New Mexico the system will find new energy to work with and bring heavy snow to the northeast mountains of New Mexico and northern Texas.

Then that’s it. Here is the 10-day precipitation outlook from the models.

GFS

Canadian

Euro

Yuck!

But can we trust the models in the longer term? I hate to even bring this up, but Covid is impacting the weather models. Yes, you read that correctly. Covid has reduced air travel. Air travel primarily occurs at the altitude of the jet stream. The jet stream largely determines the storm track. Historically, aircraft have reported 250 million weather observations per year and that is just in the US.  Weather models like the Euro rely on those observations.

Check out this chart showing us what we already know, air travel is down dramatically across the world over the last 12 months.

Here is an easier to read statistical chart.

Yes, that China stat jumps right off the page, the irony of the whole thing could be another topic, but I will stick with the weather.

Hopefully, before long I will have some weather to talk about.

In the meantime, thanks for following!

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Northern Snow

Published at 10:45 am Tuesday, January 5th

It is currently snowing on the 550 passes and Telluride. Moderate snow is falling north of Silverton, light showers are occurring between Silverton and Coal Bank. The majority of the energy of the storm is far to our north. Telluride could sneak 2 to 4 inches out of this system if they are lucky. Snow should get more intermittent late in the day and should leave the area by this evening.

There is another shot of snow for Saturday but the models disagree on the storm track. The Euro is favoring more of a southerly track, while the GFS is showing a northerly track similar to what we are seeing today.

The models are still inconclusive in the 7 to 10 day period as well as the 15 day period. There are some signs of a pattern change after 15 days in a couple of the long term models.

I will be tracking the Saturday storm and I hope I will have something to talk about. For now, no news is no news. Thanks for following!

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Famous Last Words

Published Sunday 1/3/21 at 7:45 am

Interestingly enough, the last optimistic model run I have seen in 4 or 5 days was the last one I posted, last Tuesday. You remember that one, the one I said was “maybe too perfect”. Clearly, I jinxed the stormy pattern, I hope nobody bought a new snowblower!

What we are left with has been a very stormy pattern in the northwest US sending storms around us. If we are lucky a couple of pieces of energy may drop far enough south to produce some snow in the northern portion of our forecast area (Telluride). This pattern is not good for producing snow in our areas that rely on southerly and southwesterly flow.

When will it change? I can’t answer that question with any degree of confidence right now because there is very little agreement among the weather models. One of the problems is when you get these big storms coming into our north they tend to have a lot of waves of energy and disturbances rotating around them. Some of those disturbances break away from the main energy source and dissipate or they go through a strengthening process and become a new separate storm. As I have said before, many times, the models do not handle “leftovers” very well.

When I look at the model family members of the Euro and the GFS there is very little agreement among the 51 model members that make up the Euro model or the 30 members that make up the GFS model as to when we will get some meaningful precipitation.  In other words, not only is there widespread disagreement among the various models, but internally, the models disagree with themselves.

There are more parameters to look at in the models than just the precipitation output. One of the things that I track is a “Strat Warm” or a Stratospheric Warming event. We are in the middle of one right now. These happen every winter and they are responsible for the southward movement of the (dreaded) Polar Vortex. I am not going to get too deep in the weeds with this, but the end result is that these events can and do alter the position of the polar jet. Many times they force the polar jet into southern California which can lead to an AR (atmospheric river) event. We love those! These events are a process that can take a couple of weeks or longer to pan out.

As I said there are a couple of chances of snow in the next week from the Silverton area north to Telluride and Ouray. At the moment it looks like very little if any snow will accumulate, but I will do another update before the first snow chances arrive late Tuesday.

If you are a new follower, keep in mind that with me no news is not good news, it is not bad news it is just no news. Thanks for following!

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Nice Storm!

Published at 7:45 am Tuesday

Overall, it is difficult to complain about this storm. I have not gotten a lot of reports yet this morning but most of the ones I have gotten have been positive. Most of the mid-elevation areas ended up with a storm total of 8 to 15 inches! Lower elevations below 7,200 feet, especially northwest of Durango, did very well. Telluride ended up with a total of 9 inches, they may get a little more today. Wolf Creek has a storm total so far of 25 inches and they are reporting heavy snow. Will they hit my 30 inches? Purgatory managed to bust out a storm total of 19 inches! I still have not heard from Vallecito or Pagosa.

For those of you wondering why the Purgatory snow stake is not representative of their reported totals, join the club. I have asked them this in the past and they tell me that the snow stake is not the location where they do their official measurement. Most of us know this to be the case from being there and looking at the snow stake online, then looking around at what is actually accumulating.

Things are going to be quiet for the next few days. There will be a couple of systems that will pass far to our south and north, some of the energy may generate a few flurries across the mountains but nothing significant in the short term.

The morning surface map just came out (a little earlier than normal). It shows a shortwave trough to our north (circled in black).

The models are forecasting a couple to a few more inches in the mountains of high ratio snow, mostly around Telluride and Wolf Creek, with lighter amounts elsewhere.

Here is the morning WPC 2.5km model run

And here is the NAM 3km run

Long term models are starting to come together on a flip back to a stormier pattern beginning January 5th or 6th (next Tuesday or Wednesday) and lasting until January 10th or 11th. During that time models show several storms tracking across our area with some significant snow. Here is what that looks like on the GFS model. This is beginning Monday night the 4th and ending January 12th.

This is a very optimistic scenario, maybe too perfect. The blue blobs are areas of anomalously low, low pressure. In some cases, you will see gray and even green cores in these low-pressure systems, indicating very strong storm cores.

We all know a lot can change between now and then, so it is too early to buy a new snowblower. On the other hand, last week the model runs ended up pretty accurate with this storm.

To my new Facebook followers, I love to hear from people so feel free to reach out. I am rarely on Facebook so I created this blue link at the end of every post. This is the best way to get a hold of me on a timely basis. If you have a time-sensitive question, don’t send it through Facebook, use this direct link to my email.

Thanks for all of the snow reports, thanks for following, and thanks for supporting the page.

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Afternoon Update

Published at 3:45 pm Monday

This is my least favorite part of a storm. There is a large area of precipitation to our west in southern Utah and northern Arizona. Presumably, the jet will come across our area and enhance that precipitation and work it into our area. It is not always that easy.

As I said this morning, it is very difficult, to impossible, to determine where more intense bands of snow will show up, or if they will show up.

The models under forecasted the amount of snow we got last night and this morning. It turns out that after our overrunning event, a shortwave trough set up over the area and kept snow accumulating in many locations until around noon.

NOAA’s surface maps lag by as long as 5 hours, so you never actually know what is happening. Now I am finally able to look back and see what was happening at that time.

Here was what the surface map looked like at 8 am. Unfortunately, it was around noon before I saw it. The shortwave trough is the brown dotted line I circled in black.

This explains the increased snowfall this morning.

Now, as evening approaches when the jet max is supposed to be moving into the area, here is where the main precipitation is located.

Here is the latest model guidance for additional precipitation.

If I were 100% confident with this model run, and I am not, I would be forecasting the following additional amounts of 12 to 15  inches for Wolf Creek with possibly 20 inches if everything goes perfectly. 4 to 8 additional inches could fall at Purgatory, Ouray, Silverton, and Pagosa. Most mid-elevations could see 2 to 5  additional inches, the exception being the Forest Lakes to Vallecito and Lemon areas where 5 to 10 more inches are possible. I still think another 5 to 10 inches at Telluride is possible especially after the wind changes directions.

The takeaway is that my confidence is very low in the forecast. It is not because I feel strongly in one way or another. I have seen this set up before result in a huge amount of snow, and I have also seen the precipitation find a way to mostly miss our area.

Overall, most of the models are favoring the eastern portion of our forecast area which is why I have higher amounts for Forest Lakes and Vallecito.

Next Update early Tuesday morning. Thanks for the great reports today. Keep them up! Thanks for following and supporting the site!

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Morning Model Update

Published at 8:15 am Monday

The majority of the reports I have gotten from people have been around 3 inches. The North Valley was closer to 4 to 6 inches overnight. Purgatory reported 6 inches, Wolf Creek reported 6 inches.

The main concern today will be temperatures between 6,500 and 7,000 feet. This will of course limit snow accumulations in lower elevations and some mid-elevation locations.

I am not confident enough with what I am seeing in the models to change any of my storm totals from yesterday. As I mentioned they were conservative. I might be too low for Purgatory, but I am pretty confident Wolf Creek will add another 18 to 24 inches by Wednesday morning.

Here is the morning run from the WPC 2.5km model.

Here is the NAM 3km model.

Between 3 pm and 6 pm, the strongest part of the upper jet will move over our area from west to east. This jet streak will slowly move through for 12 to 18 hours, departing the easternmost portion of our forecast area (Wolf Creek) between 9 am and noon Tuesday.

Here is the jet forecast between now and Tuesday at noon. The warmer colors of yellow, orange and red depict the strongest portion of the jet.

When this happens there are usually bands of heavy snow that develop over the area. Where exactly that happens is nearly impossible to determine, and the models do a poor job predicting these bands. Bottom line, more potential upside surprises by tomorrow morning.

Thanks for all of the reports, I read every one of them but I don’t have time to reply to all of them. Remember to let me know where you are reporting the snow from. Also, after you report it is a good idea to write it down, then clear the area so your next report will be more accurate. After about 4 inches of accumulation, snow starts to compact which will affect your totals.

Next Update this afternoon. Thanks for following!

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Early Morning Update

Published at 5:30 am Monday

Here are the latest Warnings and Advisories. Remember the wording is everything when you read these. The Durango and Pagosa area’s advisory is calling for 3 to 6 inches additional snow. The Silverton-Rico Warning is calling for storm totals (including what has already fallen) of 8 to 18 inches. The Telluride Advisory is for 5 to 10 inches between 5 pm tonight and 5 pm Tuesday. The Wolf Creek Warning is calling for 1 to 2 feet of additional snow.

By the way, the main low pressure is just now coming onshore in Central California.

COZ022-023-282145-
/O.CON.KGJT.WW.Y.0029.000000T0000Z-201229T1600Z/
ANIMAS RIVER BASIN-SAN JUAN RIVER BASIN-
INCLUDING THE CITIES OF DURANGO, BAYFIELD, IGNACIO,
AND PAGOSA SPRINGS
305 AM MST MON DEC 28 2020

…WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 9 AM MST
TUESDAY ABOVE 6500 FEET…

* WHAT…PERIODS OF SNOW ABOVE 6500 FEET. ADDITIONAL SNOW
ACCUMULATIONS OF 3 TO 6 INCHES WITH LOCALLY HIGHER AMOUNTS
ALONG THE BASE OF THE SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS.

* WHERE…SAN JUAN RIVER BASIN AND ANIMAS RIVER BASIN.

* WHEN…UNTIL 9 AM MST TUESDAY.

* IMPACTS…PLAN ON ICY TO SNOWPACKED ROAD CONDITIONS DURING THE MORNING AND NIGHT-TIME PERIODS.

 

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

COZ019-282145-
/O.CON.KGJT.WS.W.0013.000000T0000Z-201230T0000Z/
SOUTHWEST SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS-
INCLUDING THE CITIES OF SILVERTON, RICO, AND HESPERUS
305 AM MST MON DEC 28 2020

…WINTER STORM WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 5 PM MST
TUESDAY…

* WHAT…MODERATE TO HEAVY SNOW AT TIMES THROUGH TUESDAY
AFTERNOON. TOTAL SNOW ACCUMULATIONS OF 8 TO 16 INCHES WEST OF
HIGHWAY 550…12 TO 18 WITH WITH LOCALLY HIGHER AMOUNTS EAST OF
HIGHWAY 550. WINDS GUSTING AS HIGH AS 45 MPH ABOVE 10000 FEET.

* WHERE…SOUTHWEST SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS.

* WHEN…UNTIL 5 PM MST TUESDAY.

* IMPACTS…TRAVEL COULD BE VERY DIFFICULT TO IMPOSSIBLE. PATCHY
BLOWING SNOW COULD SIGNIFICANTLY REDUCE VISIBILITY.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

COZ018-282145-
/O.CON.KGJT.WW.Y.0029.201229T0000Z-201230T0000Z/
NORTHWEST SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS-
INCLUDING THE CITIES OF TELLURIDE, OURAY, AND LAKE CITY
305 AM MST MON DEC 28 2020

…WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM 5 PM THIS
AFTERNOON TO 5 PM MST TUESDAY…

* WHAT…SNOW EXPECTED. TOTAL SNOW ACCUMULATIONS OF 5 TO 10 INCHES WITH LOCALLY HIGHER AMOUNTS UP TO A FOOT. WINDS GUSTING AS HIGH AS 45 MPH ABOVE 10000 FEET.

* WHERE…NORTHWEST SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS.

* WHEN…FROM 5 PM THIS AFTERNOON TO 5 PM MST TUESDAY.

* IMPACTS…TRAVEL WILL BE DIFFICULT AT TIMES DUE TO ICY AND
SNOWPACKED CONDITIONS. PATCHY BLOWING SNOW COULD SIGNIFICANTLY REDUCE VISIBILITY.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

350 AM MST MON DEC 28 2020

COZ067-068-281900-
/O.CON.KPUB.WS.W.0012.000000T0000Z-201230T0000Z/
UPPER RIO GRANDE VALLEY/EASTERN SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS BELOW
10000 FEET-EASTERN SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS ABOVE 10000 FEET-
350 AM MST MON DEC 28 2020

…WINTER STORM WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 5 PM MST
TUESDAY…

* WHAT…HEAVY SNOW. ADDITIONAL SNOW ACCUMULATIONS OF 1 TO 2
FEET WITH LOCALLY HIGHER AMOUNTS POSSIBLE, EXCEPT 7 TO 14
INCHES FOR THE RIO GRANDE VALLEY. WINDS GUSTING AS HIGH AS 45
MPH.

* WHERE…EASTERN SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS ABOVE 10000 FEET AND UPPER  RIO GRANDE VALLEY BELOW 10000 FEET.

* WHEN…UNTIL 5 PM MST TUESDAY.

* IMPACTS…TRAVEL COULD BE VERY DIFFICULT TO IMPOSSIBLE. PATCHY
BLOWING SNOW COULD SIGNIFICANTLY REDUCE VISIBILITY. THE
HAZARDOUS CONDITIONS COULD IMPACT THE MORNING AND EVENING
COMMUTES WITH SNOW PACKED ROADS AND POOR VISIBILITY.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The models underestimated the snowfall overnight. It was an overrunning event. It happens when a warmer moist airmass goes over a cold dense air mass. In our region, it usually falls as snow but can sometimes lead to an icing event as you see in the south every winter.

If you are in the mid and lower elevations the precipitation is going to be on and off, until it picks up again later today. The snow level should be between 6,500 and 7,000 feet before lowering to all elevations tonight.

I will Update when the morning high-resolution models generate. I am anxious to hear everyone’s overnight totals. For now, no change to forecasted totals. Thanks for following!

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