Cooler Weather In Our Future

I don’t have any new information on the Ice Fire west of Silverton. Unfortunately, fires have to be larger and more threatening before I can access information on them. The bad news is the fire will likely grow over the next few days before we (hopefully) get some cooler and wetter conditions on Sunday and Monday.

All of the models show varying degrees of the storm system affecting portions of the forecast area, although the storm track is very uncertain at this point.  There is widespread agreement that behind the storm temperatures will fall below average. I mention this because if this pans out you are going to wish you would have winterized sprinklers and/or evaporative coolers this week. Overnight lows could fall to the lowest levels so far this fall by next Tuesday morning.

One difference with this system is it looks like it will drop in further west than what we have seen for a while. The northern storm track has been very busy lately for Montana and Wyoming and even extending into the upper midwest.

The Canadian model is going crazy with rain and snow amounts, the GFS and Euro seem to be going back and forth on their totals.

Here were the latest totals from the overnight model runs.

GFS liquid amounts

GFS snow

Euro liquid

Euro snow

The Euro and GFS are both enhancing the precipitation to our east. The Euro is showing quite a bit of precipitation over Archuleta County and both sides of Wolf Creek Pass.

Now for the Canadian–the Canadian jumped on board in a big way. I would not rely on the Canadian by itself, not yet anyway. I use it as a reminder of the potential for this storm if everything went perfectly, which almost never happens.

Canadian liquid

Canadian snow

Next update Wednesday. Thanks for following!

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A Look At Winter And Our Next Shot of Precipitation

Factors Affecting The Upcoming Winter.

Since I moved to the area 12 1/2 years ago I have tried to determine the best recipe for a good, bad, or average winter snow season. I am still trying.

What has become very apparent is that you cannot generalize the conditions that accompany ENSO (La Nina, El Nino, Neutral). That is true everywhere, but it is more important in our area. The other thing that is apparent is summer and fall conditions have very little correlation with winter conditions.

October is historically the worst month of the year for weather model forecasting. Fortunately, in November historically the modeling is more successful. That continues until April or May the other “shoulder season”. The reason is because of the northern branch of the jet stream and the pressure gradient between the cooler air mass to the north and the warmer air masses to the south.

Eventually, the western ridge buckles and often puts the trough where the ridge was in fall. We are due for that to happen before long, more on that later.

This season we have started experiencing La Nina conditions and they are expected to continue into a moderate La Nina. Weak, strong, and moderate La Ninas, depending on what other factors are present, all can lead to below, above, or average precipitation amounts as well as below, above, or average temperatures.

All of this is true with El Nino as well as neutral Enso conditions. If you are starting to get confused, join the club.

The other cast of characters that you have to take into consideration are the “teleconnections”. These are the drivers for the large scale pattern that are the true drivers of our weather.

These teleconnections are in positive or negative phases. For now, I don’t want to dig too deep of a hole into weather nerd land so I won’t get too technical.

The three major teleconnections for us to look at are the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO),  the Eastern Pacific Oscillation(EPO), and the Pacific North American index (PNA).

We have talked about the MJO and I will revisit the explanation and implications later, for now, remember there are 8 phases to the MJO, and what phase we are in can have an effect on precipitation and temperatures. The MJO is most influential from December through March.

The EPO in its negative phase generally results in below-average temperatures for most of the lower 48 states and above-average temperatures in the Gulf of Alaska.

The PNA in its negative phase is common in a La Nina. It can lead to cold temperatures especially in the west, where the trough usually sets up for the winter. With a positive PNA, the opposite is true-warmer temps in the west with a trough in the east.

Other factors I am looking at are the cooling sea surface temps (SST) north of Hawaii. If this continues the cooler temps will spread east towards the west coast of the US. This could result in a cooler pattern as well.

I will revisit all of these factors in mid-November and we will look at how the November pattern evolves and hopefully get a better handle on long term modeling.

Possible Pattern Change Around 10/25

I know I just mentioned that October is statistically the worst month for weather model performance. But all of the models for the last 48 hours or so have been showing the possibility of the northern jet dropping at least a small storm far enough west to affect our weather on the or about the 25th-26th. If it were one model, I don’t think I would mention it. In this case, the GFS, Euro, and Canadian all show this. I responded to an email I got yesterday about this by saying I am not yet even cautiously optimistic it will happen. The more solutions and agreement among the models I see, the more optimistic I will become. At this point, I find the model agreement worth mentioning, but for today, I will leave it at that.

With the possibility of a ripple developing in the pattern, I will be posting more frequently this week. Thanks for following and supporting the page while we wait for winter to kick in!

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The Typical Early Season Miss

Of course I will keep watching, but none of the models at this time are showing precipitation south of Hwy 50. Most keep the precipitation as far north as I-70.

With this scenario the cold air even gets scoured out very quickly as the ridge returns. It looks like two more northern branch storms will come through before the end of the month but it is too early to speculate what will happen with them.

Enjoy the warm fall conditions. I don’t want to get a head of myself regarding Winter but remember, Winter 18-19 (the big one) didn’t get started until 12/30 that year. I am not expecting a repeat, but things were looking pretty grim until the snow came. Then it just kept going and going to most people’s surprise.

Hang in there, our time will get here before long!

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Sunday Update

After one run of the GFS starting to show some promise for a more southerly storm track, the model has abandoned ship and now and the Euro is trending north as well showing the bulk of the precipitation falling north of Red Mountain Pass. 12 hours ago the Euro brought light rain as far south as Durango with accumulating snow north of Rockwood and as far south as Wolf Creek Pass.

Usually, I expect differences between the GFS and the Euro. I don’t talk as often about the Canadian model, but in the days leading up to the event the Canadian usually casts the winning vote. Right now the very latest Canadian is walking right in line with the GFS. Unless or until the Canadian comes over to team Euro, and by that I mean team “12 hours ago Euro”, it will be difficult for me to believe a nice precipitation event is on the way.

The one thing every model agrees on is that Monday and Tuesday we will see the coldest overnight lows of the season so far.

There are about dozens of model runs left between those three models before the storm affects Colorado so it is too early to worry. As I said yesterday this is a very common storm tract for Fall storms and it would be more unusual for the storm to track far enough south to hit us.

If it becomes clear that a miss is on the way I have some new thoughts on Winter I will share later in the week.

Thanks for following and supporting the site! Next Update Thursday afternoon.

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First Look At Sunday

Another early Winter system in NW flow will be arriving to our forecast area between late Saturday and  Sunday midday. This system will be similar to the one that came through a month ago. At the moment it appears the best areas for snow will likely be Telluride and Hwy 550 areas north of Coal Bank Pass.

I could just repost my Updates from September 6th and 7th but let me refamiliarize you with the set-up.

A potent storm system will come ashore in the Pacific Northwest, from Northern California all of the up to Vancouver BC. The system will start to drop down the California Coast as it is coming onshore. How far south it drops will determine how far south the cold and precipitation will end up.

Here is what the Euro projects the storm will look at Noon on Saturday.

Jump ahead 18 hours and here is how the Euro positions the system by Sunday morning at 6 am.

We will need to see that low drop near the Utah-Arizona border before we can start talking about significant accumulations South of Coal Bank Pass. It can’t be ruled out, but for early season storms like this, it would be highly unusual.

The Euro shows the heaviest precipitation between 12 pm and 8 pm on Sunday. Here are forecasted conditions for 3 pm. The snow level at that time will between 8,000-8,500 feet.

The GFS and Canadian seem to be lagging the Euro at this point. The Euro has been the most consistent model over the last 48 hours.

Depending on the storm’s timing, temps on Sunday may struggle to the low 50’s for highs in the lower elevations before steadily dropping during the afternoon and evening hours. Temps will be much cooler next week, so enjoy the warm temps this week.

Keep your fingers crossed. Thanks for following! The next will be Update Wednesday afternoon!

 

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Freeze Warning Tonight And Tomorrow Morning

Two things came up today. There was a press release regarding the location being picked for our new radar. It will be located near Bondad. I did not know about it until the Herald called. I missed the call and tried to return the call but only got voicemail.

I am the wrong person to talk to as I was only on the first couple of conference calls after the grant was announced. I am by no means a radar expert but this seems like an excellent choice because there is a weather monitoring station at the same location.  When this started, many of the folks involved were hoping to get a site that would give decent coverage from Wolf Creek to the Utah border.  With all of the sites that were under consideration, they were able to simulate coverage results. I am sure the many powers that be with this chose the location for a reason. Again, I am not an expert on that process.

The second news was the Freeze Warning that was issued with the afternoon forecast package. Yesterday the forecast discussion said since most of the areas had already had freezing temperatures, so there was no reason to issue a warning. I thought that was an odd approach and apparently, they had second thoughts.

Here it is:

COZ001-021>023-290700-
/O.NEW.KGJT.FZ.W.0012.200929T0600Z-200929T1600Z/
LOWER YAMPA RIVER BASIN-FOUR CORNERS/UPPER DOLORES RIVER- ANIMAS RIVER BASIN-SAN JUAN RIVER BASIN-
INCLUDING THE CITIES OF RANGELY, DINOSAUR, CORTEZ, DOVE CREEK, MANCOS, DURANGO, BAYFIELD, IGNACIO, AND PAGOSA SPRINGS
248 PM MDT MON SEP 28 2020

…FREEZE WARNING IN EFFECT FROM MIDNIGHT TONIGHT TO 10 AM MDT TUESDAY…

* WHAT…SUB-FREEZING TEMPERATURES AS LOW AS 25 TO 30 DEGREES ACROSS MUCH OF THE AREA IS EXPECTED.

* WHERE…LOWER YAMPA RIVER BASIN, FOUR CORNERS/UPPER DOLORES RIVER, ANIMAS RIVER BASIN AND SAN JUAN RIVER BASIN.

* WHEN…FROM MIDNIGHT TONIGHT TO 10 AM MDT TUESDAY.

* IMPACTS…FROST AND FREEZE CONDITIONS WILL KILL CROPS, OTHER SENSITIVE VEGETATION AND POSSIBLY DAMAGE UNPROTECTED OUTDOOR PLUMBING.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

TAKE STEPS NOW TO PROTECT TENDER PLANTS FROM THE COLD. TO PREVENT FREEZING AND POSSIBLE BURSTING OF OUTDOOR WATER PIPES THEY SHOULD BE WRAPPED, DRAINED, OR ALLOWED TO DRIP SLOWLY. THOSE THAT HAVE
IN-GROUND SPRINKLER SYSTEMS SHOULD DRAIN THEM AND COVER ABOVE- GROUND PIPES TO PROTECT THEM FROM FREEZING.

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Checking In

If I don’t call my Mom often enough, I usually hear from her and she always asks me the same thing “what’s wrong?”. I must have a few blog Moms out there because if I don’t post for a while I usually get a few emails from people asking “is everything OK?

On a daily basis I comb through the models looking for something of value or promise. Late September and October in SW Colorado typically bring  pleasant weather with a dominant ridge of high pressure over the western 1/3 of the Continental United States. Frequent storms are not common this time of year and for me, while enjoyable, it is the most boring time of year for for weather.

Today’s highs will be slightly below normal today as the cooler air filters in from the cold front that swept through. Temps will be on the rebound starting on Tuesday and the ridge will pop right back into place bringing warmer temps and dry air. The dry air will lead to cooler overnight lows just slightly higher than what we will see Tuesday morning.

I don’t see any precipitation on the models in the next week and that may very well extend into the following week.

I will be heading out of town mid-week but I will be keeping an eye on things as always.

Hang in there, enjoy the boring weather before Winter arrives because it will, even this year! Thanks for following.

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Slight Chance Of Light Showers The Next Couple Of Days

There is a chance we could see some light isolated showers today, with a better chance of scattered showers Tuesday. Today most of the activity will occur at or above 8,800 feet. Tuesday we may some of the light shower activity drift off the mountains into the Valley areas and or mid-elevation areas.

I am not expecting any significant accumulations. A few of the higher elevations may accumulate.30-.50″. The lower elevations may squeak out a few hundredths of an inch.

Here are the max CAPE values for today. 561 at DGO around 3 pm could be enough available energy to get some storms forming. I am going to wash my car today, that might do the trick.

If you are enjoying this period of what I refer to as boring weather, good news, it looks like it is going to continue. When I look at the long-range models, there are some signs that precipitation will pick up a bit after October 7th. That is a long time from now, so no promises just yet.

I spent some time going back through precipitation records (back to 1895) and I saw no correlation between low precipitation August and September and low precipitation October through December. If anything I noticed some large anomalies pop up after drier than average Augusts and Septembers. I mention this because people are starting to get nervous about Winter. Wait to worry, I have not given up on an “average” snowfall Winter for SW Colorado.

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Weather Withdrawal

The pendulum has swung back and once again we find ourselves in a boring weather pattern. Sure, the higher elevations will get some pop-up high elevation heat-based thunderstorms during the afternoons, but for the most part it looks like a boring week ahead for most of us.

The only thing on the horizon is a trough of low pressure that will come on shore on the west coast this week. The models are not in agreement how far south the low will be when it passes. The Euro is showing it dipping just far enough south to increase instability and cause some showers over the weekend. The GFS currently shows the low heading further north with very low chances of precipitation in the area.

I have not been posting about Hurricane Sally. There seems to be a heightened sense of awareness on this very dangerous storm. The biggest news will be the flooding. This storm is going to run into an atmospheric wall and will likely stall out, bringing areas between New Orleans and Gulfport, MS a tremendous amount of rain. 12-20″ will be possible in some areas.

BTW it looks like the rollover crash south of Ouray will keep 550 closed for quite a while this morning. Those planning on driving through that area should monitor CDOT.

Thanks for following, next update later this week unless something significant develops!

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