Storm And December Wrap Up

1/3/22 Monday 9:30 am

As irritating as it was to be without the internet yesterday, there was something kind of nice about it. It forced me to not get distracted and just enjoy the day.

Here was the storm Saturday morning as it was departing the area. At the end of the day, the merger took place at an unfavorable location to provide a lot of snow to the lower and some of the mid-elevation areas.

 

Here are the storm totals from Thursday through Saturday.

Ouray 10 inches

Telluride 14 inches

Silverton 16 inches

Purgatory 18 inches

Wolf Creek 38 inches

The nine-day storm cycle was tremendous for our snowpack.  Here are the nine-day totals from December 23rd through January 1st.

Telluride 48 inches

Purgatory 61 inches

Coal Bank 99 inches

Wolf Creek 127 inches

Thanks to CAIC for responding to my request for the Coal Bank data. They also mentioned that the 99 inches of snow was the equivalent of 8.6 inches of liquid and it was not a record.  For the month of December, they said Coal Bank received 146 inches of snow with a liquid equivalent of 13.6 inches!

Here are the latest snowpack numbers for our region

The numbers that most people are interested in are the last two numbers on the right. The first number is the percentage of today’s median (average). The second is the percentage of today’s peak.

For example, if you go down to Cascade #2  you will see that as of today that site has 177% of what is average for this date and 75% of what it usually has at its peak.  If you look to the left you will that the peak date for maximum snowpack usually occurs March 6th at that location. At the bottom, you can see that as a whole our area is at 142% of our average snowpack for this date.

There are going to be a couple of chances for snow this week, favoring the northern portions of the forecast area. This weekend some of the snow may work down to Purgatory and Wolf Creek but I don’t expect anything significant.

Beyond the weekend, the dreaded ridge of high pressure is going to re-establish itself over the area and give us a “January thaw”. This could last 7 to 10 days, very early indications are that we could shift back into a stormier pattern after that.

On Tuesday, I will talk more about the extended period. The “Euro Weeklies” model will be out and it covers a number of parameters up to 46 days in the future. “The Euro Seasonal”  model should update tonight and will give us a fresh look at the rest of the winter. Both of these models did pretty well around the first of last month showing the stormy end to December that led to our above-average snowpack.

Tuesday’s update should be out before 10 am. Thanks for following and supporting the site!

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Happy New Year!

1/1/22 Saturday 9:30 am

It is still snowing in many locations throughout the forecast area–dumping in Telluride, light snow at Wolf Creek, and Ouray. I am going to wait until tomorrow to do a  proper storm wrap-up. I will also talk about our snowpack, the month of December as a whole, and what’s next.

I do appreciate your reports, however, I am aware that my and everyone else’s forecasts busted for many of the low and mid-elevation areas. I warned that the 6-12 inch forecast from the NWS Warning was going to be a problem.

That being said, two people in town Durango have measured 4 to 5 .5 inches since Thursday. The higher figure reported was further north of the lower figure.

The models did well in the higher elevations. More on that tomorrow.

Sunday’s update should be out by 9 am. Thanks for following and supporting the site!

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CDOT Closure Information For This Evening And Saturday

12/31/21 Friday 3 pm

As expected, there was no new guidance from the NWS Grand Junction office this afternoon in regards to their low elevation Winter Storm Warning for our area. Either they are confident with it or we will not hear another word about it.

Here are the planned mitigations for tonight and tomorrow across the passes.

TODAY, New Year’s Eve, 12/31

US 50 Monarch Pass: Avalanche mitigation operations will take place on US 50 Monarch Pass today (New Year’s Eve) beginning at 5 p.m. Eastbound traffic will be stopped near Sargents, MP 190. Westbound traffic will be stopped just east of Monarch Ski Area, MP 205. Motorists will encounter a lengthy delay of at least two hours.

TOMORROW, New Year’s Day, 1/1

US 160 Wolf Creek Pass:  Avalanche mitigation is planned for US 160 Wolf Creek Pass tomorrow (New Year’s Day) beginning at 5:30 a.m. Eastbound traffic will be stopped near Treasure Falls, MP 158 and westbound traffic will be stopped just west of the ski area near the pass summit, MP 168. Travelers can expect a lengthy delay of an hour or more.

US 550 Red Mountain Pass: Avalanche mitigation is planned for US 550 Red Mountain Pass tomorrow (New Year’s Day) beginning at 8 a.m. Travelers will encounter traffic stops and lengthy delays between Silverton and Ouray. Operations are expected to last for much of the day.

CO 145 Lizard Head Pass: Avalanche mitigation operations are planned for CO 145 Lizard Head Pass tomorrow (New Year’s Day) beginning at 9 a.m. Motorists will encounter traffic stops and lengthy delays between Rico and Telluride throughout the morning.

Travelers should plan ahead for these closures! Expect lengthy delays, allow for extra travel time or arrive at the closure points before designated traffic stop times. Please be aware that estimated closure durations may be extended. Closures are dependent upon the amount of snow and debris that must be cleared from the highway as well as other possible and unusual circumstances.

Currently there are no plans for mitigation on US 550 Coal Bank and Molas Passes; nor for CO 17 Cumbres and La Manga Passes. However, snowfall accumulations across the region may require additional avalanche control work this weekend or in the coming days. Travelers should visit COtrip.org for road and highway updates. Check avalanche conditions at CAIC: www.avalanche.state.co.us 

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Quick Noon Update

12/31/21 Friday 12:30 pm

Sorry for the delay I was waiting for some information before writing this. I just saw a disturbing model run from the European model. I reached out to a few people and compared their current totals since 5 am to what the Euro was predicting and it turns out the Euro was quite a ways off. In some cases, it was showing less than half of what actually fell.

I am not going to change my forecasts. I am concerned about the NWS low elevation Winter Storm Warning verifying (6-inch minimum). I don’t expect them to address it this afternoon. They are all excited about a heavy snow band that has set up along the stalled front to our north over the Grand Junction area.

For the rest of the day, snow should be on the increase later this afternoon or evening in lower elevations.

Please report any dramatic increase in the rate of snowfall to me. I can’t always tell by the webcams, especially during the day.

If I have something to report this afternoon, I should have it out by 4 pm. If not, have a nice time if you are celebrating with friends or family tonight. Thanks for following and supporting the site!

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Friday Morning Storm Update

Email subscribers:  in my Marshall Fire Update I mistakenly wrote that Louisville and Superior were in SW Boulder County. I meant to write Southeastern Boulder County.

12/31/21 Thursday 8:35 am

For the rest of the day, expect scattered snow showers mixed with periods of moderate snow in the higher elevations. The mid-elevations will see intermittent snow showers increasing through the day. The lower elevations will see a stray flurry early today with snow showers becoming more likely after 3 pm.

For those of you driving tonight in the lower elevation areas for New Year’s Eve, be ready for conditions to deteriorate this evening. Don’t expect the mild conditions throughout the day to continue.

I am starting to see some indications of snow squalls and heavy bands of snow developing this evening throughout the forecast area, including the lower elevations.

Conditions will become more favorable for Telluride and Ouray as the front passes late tonight/overnight when the winds switch direction.

Here is a current map of the storm.

The closed circulation area of low pressure has opened up and is merging with the system to our northwest. The “bottom” of the system is strengthening off the Baja Coast, while the “top” of the system has stalled to our northwest.

Let’s take a look at how the models have done so far. The Winter Storm Warnings for the higher elevations, as well as my forecasted totals, started at 5:00 am yesterday. Let’s look at what the models forecasted for 24 hour period starting Thursday morning, versus what actually fell.

Wolf Creek added 13 inches in the last 24 hours, Purgatory picked up 9 inches and Telluride added an inch…

The Canadian did well in the higher elevations, but poorly in the lower elevations. This is usually because of its lower resolution.

Euro

The Euro was a little too low in the higher elevations but did well in the lower elevations.

GFS

The GFS  did OK overall, this model struggles a bit with our terrain.

Overall, these models have done a pretty good job so far. But it indicates to me there is no clear-cut favorite and I should continue to blend the models, taking into account their strengths and weaknesses.

My next update will be out by noon. Thanks for following and supporting the site!

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Marshall Fire Info

**My morning Southwest Colorado update on the approaching Winter Storm will be out before 9 am.**

12/31/21 Friday 7 am

As of 10:20 pm last night, 6005 acres have burned in Boulder County. The estimate as of this morning is 580+ homes have been destroyed.

Here is a map of the fire perimeter.

Low pressure in southeast Colorado will do its job and generate upslope flow. Boulder is included in a Winter Storm Warning issued this morning. Louisville and Superior are in far Southeastern Boulder County. They will receive lesser amounts of snow.

COZ035-036-038-039-311300-
/O.CON.KBOU.WS.W.0013.211231T1200Z-220101T1800Z/
LARIMER AND BOULDER COUNTIES BETWEEN 6000 AND 9000 FEET-JEFFERSON AND WEST DOUGLAS COUNTIES ABOVE 6000 FEET/GILPIN/CLEAR CREEK/NORTHEAST PARK COUNTIES BELOW 9000 FEET-LARIMER COUNTY BELOW 6000 FEET/NORTHWEST WELD COUNTY-BOULDER AND JEFFERSON
COUNTIES BELOW 6000 FEET/WEST BROOMFIELD COUNTY-
INCLUDING THE CITIES OF EVERGREEN, GEORGETOWN, GLENDEVEY, LAKEWOOD, NEDERLAND, GOLDEN, FORT COLLINS, WESTCREEK, LONGMONT, ARVADA, LOVELAND, CENTRAL CITY, RED FEATHER LAKES, NUNN, IDAHO SPRINGS, ESTES PARK, BAILEY, HEREFORD, AND BOULDER 947 PM MST THU DEC 30 2021

…WINTER STORM WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM 5 AM FRIDAY TO 11 AM MST SATURDAY…

* WHAT…HEAVY SNOW LIKELY. TOTAL SNOW ACCUMULATIONS BETWEEN 5 AND 10 INCHES EXPECTED. HIGHER AMOUNTS TO 1 FOOT POSSIBLE FOR HIGHER TERRAIN IN THE FOOTHILLS AND NEAR ESTES PARK.

* WHERE…THE NORTHERN FRONT RANGE FOOTHILLS, THE SOUTHERN FRONT RANGE FOOTHILLS, FORT COLLINS, AND BOULDER AND THE WESTERN SUBURBS OF DENVER.

* WHEN…FROM 5 AM FRIDAY TO 11 AM MST SATURDAY.

* IMPACTS…TRAVEL COULD BE VERY DIFFICULT. THE HAZARDOUS CONDITIONS COULD IMPACT THE FRIDAY MORNING AND EVENING COMMUTES.

Here are the forecasted liquid precipitation totals through Saturday afternoon.

The numbers refer to liquid-equivalent precipitation totals between 5 am this morning and 5 pm Saturday afternoon. The .49 is for Boulder, .44  for Longmont, .36 in Broomfield, .32 in Lafayette. The fire is approximately where I have indicated in red.

Here are the maps in motion showing the snow developing today.

I will provide more updates as the condition warrants.

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Snow Forecasts Through Saturday Night

12/30/21 Thursday 3:40 pm

I dug a little deeper into the recent high-resolution models regarding jet placement. This could lead to higher totals and upside surprises for the following areas: Bayfield, Ignacio, Aztec, Bloomington, and Arboles, and all of Archuleta County. I have not factored that into my snow totals.

Here is my snow forecast. These totals are valid from 5 am Thursday through Saturday night.

30 to 40 inches:  Wolf Creek

12 to 18 inches: Purgatory, Rico, Telluride, Red Mountain, Silverton in town.

12 to 16 inches: Mayday, Lemon above 8,500 feet, Wilderness

10 to 14 inches: Hesperus Hill, Upper Forest Lakes, Vallecito, Upper Durango Hills, Aspen Trails, Los Ranchitos, Trew Creek, Tween Lakes, Hesperus Ski Area, Glacier Club,  Forest Groves, Falls Creek (north), Pagosa Springs

8 to 12 inches:  DW 1&2, Lake Durango, Edgemont Ranch, Edgemont Highlands, Bear Creek, Lower Durango Hills, Rafter J, Falls Creek (south), Pine River Ranches, Durango Ridge Ranch, Lower Forest Lakes, Lower Durango Hills, Deer Valley Estates,  Rockwood, Dolores, Timberdale

6 to 10 inches: Hermosa, Celadon, Ouray, Shenandoah

4 to 8 inches:  Durango, Bayfield, Ignacio, Trappers Crossing, Long Hollow Ranch@141, the highest totals will be in Skyridge, Hillcrest, Timberline

2 to 5 inches:  Cortez, Mancos in town, Marvel, Kline, Rancho Durango,  Ridgway

1 to 3 inches:  Aztec, Bondad

My next update will be Friday morning. Thanks for following and supporting the site!

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Great Storm Or Good Storm?

12/30/21 Thursday 12:35 pm

The latest model runs are trending lower with the precipitation forecasts. On the one hand, this would stand to reason given the fact that anywhere from an inch to 11 inches of more snow has fallen since yesterday morning.

On the other hand, even if I subtract those amounts from those particular areas, it is clear that it is not the only factor involved. The models are trending lower. It appears the biggest change between today and yesterday is the placement and strength of the jet above us.

This has left me in a predicament. Do I bet that these are anomalous runs and go for the higher totals I had been seeing for the last couple of days? Or, do I take them as they are now and adjust later if necessary.

I think the only way to proceed is to forecast off of the models with the declining totals and assume that things are not coming together as well as hoped. I have mentioned a couple of times that this storm merger setup can be a good storm if things are not perfect and a perfect storm if things come together 100%.

Don’t worry, even using the lower trending models I still am expecting double-digit totals at Telluride and Purgatory, and 28 to 36 inches at Wolf Creek. The lower elevations will take the biggest hit.

Here are the latest model runs from this morning showing the total precipitation through late Saturday. I will start with the more encouraging runs and work my way down the ladder.

Canadian

NDFD blended model

Euro

GFS

 

My snow forecasts will be out later this afternoon. Thanks for following and supporting the site!

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The Calm Before The Storm

12/30/21 Thursday 8:4o am

The last 24 hours delivered an additional 5 inches of snow to Telluride. Purgatory received 6 inches, and Wolf Creek added 11 inches.

We will see another round of intermittent snow showers today. They will be scattered in coverage primarily in the mid and higher elevation locations. Snow will pick up and expand in coverage after 8 pm. This will continue overnight and throughout the day on Friday. The snow will become heavy throughout the afternoon and evening. The snow will move out sometime on Saturday, there are model discrepancies as to when that will actually happen. The Euro is showing some “leftovers” and keeps the snow falling in a few locations until late afternoon.

Overnight the major models I usually refer to came in slighter colder for the storm. Hopefully, this trend will continue. I will feel better about snow levels tomorrow morning after the closed circulation low-pressure area moves onshore in its pursuit to merge with the cold storm to our northwest. At the moment, it looks like the snow level will be 6,200 feet during the warmest time of day.

I will do a morning model update which will be out by 1 pm. I am working on the snow forecast. It will be out by 4 pm or shortly after.

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