We are going to get a little bit of snow. At this point, it looks like a widespread 2-4 inch event with a 5-10″ additional for Wolf Creek (they already had 4 inches). Farmington and Aztec should also be in the 2-4″ category and I am happy for my followers down there. Purgatory at this point looks like 1-3″. This could all change, we will see, we are dealing with a longwave trough that stretches from Baja California to Nova Scotia, unbelievable, so let’s see what happens when this thing comes onshore. Next update very early tomorrow morning.
The NWS is still struggling with their early kiss of death Winter Storm Watch. They downgraded it to a Winter Storm Advisory and said it only applied to Wolf Creek Pass, which is not even in their forecast area. I would argue that it probably should be because they seem to handle it better than the Pueblo office does. Anyway to me that cancels out what should have never been issued anyway. The models have not moved too much and are still showing some snow especially overnight and tomorrow. Depending on which surface map you look at the low is still offshore, roughly south of San Diego. Until I see that on land headed east I would not put a lot of stock in what the models say. I will update again later today.
The midday models did not do us any favors. The NWS did not cancel the Winter Storm Watch. I get it, they own it now, and if the storm track changes overnight or during the day tomorrow they could be in good shape. If it doesn’t as they say here in the afternoon forecast discussion there will “little or no impacts”. Here are their words:
” a closed low forms over California overnight and drops slowly over Baja
California by late Monday afternoon. Forecast confidence is low
with the exact track of this system Monday evening through
Tuesday. Model to model consistency is low with this system. A more
northern track would bring significant snow to the southern San
Juan mountains and adjacent foothill locations, while a more
southern track would result in a little or no impacts. Have
decided to decrease amounts a bit with a blended forecast which
takes a more southern track approach with the best focus over the
Wolf Creek Pass region through Tuesday with lesser amounts
elsewhere across the south. However, confidence is low so stay
tuned to the forecast for the latest updates. Due to the uncertainty
with this system have decided to continue the winter storm watch
for southern San Juan mountains until better model consensus.”
As I said earlier Wolf Creek will get the most snow in the area. Next Update Monday.
A significant Advisory and Winter Storm Watch were issued overnight, and I can only find one model that buys what the NWS is selling. I hope they are right but their issuances depend on a near-perfect scenario and I was even reluctant to post it because I think they should have waited with the Winter Storm Watch until later today or when there is more model support for their forecast perhaps tomorrow.
SOUTHWEST SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS-
INCLUDING THE CITIES OF SILVERTON, RICO, AND HESPERUS
339 AM MST SUN FEB 9 2020
…WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM 5 PM THIS AFTERNOON TO
8 AM MST MONDAY…
…WINTER STORM WATCH IN EFFECT FROM MONDAY AFTERNOON THROUGH
* WHAT…FOR THE WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY, SNOW EXPECTED. TOTAL
SNOW ACCUMULATIONS OF UP TO 4 TO 8 INCHES WITH UP TO 12 INCHES
NEAR WOLF CREEK PASS. WINDS GUSTING AS HIGH AS 35 MPH.
FOR THE WINTER STORM WATCH, SNOW EXPECTED. TOTAL SNOW
ACCUMULATIONS OF 6 TO 10 INCHES POSSIBLE WITH UP TO A FOOT OR
MORE NEAR WOLF CREEK PASS.
* WHERE…SOUTHWEST SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS.
* WHEN…FOR THE WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY, FROM 5 PM THIS
AFTERNOON TO 8 AM MST MONDAY.
FOR THE WINTER STORM WATCH, FROM MONDAY AFTERNOON THROUGH
So 4 to 12 inches by 8 am tomorrow morning, then 6-12 between Monday “afternoon” through Tuesday evening.
Meanwhile, the GFS is basically showing a miss, here are its projected totals through Wednesday morning.
The GFS is much further south with the storm track dumping all over New Mexico as seen below.
On the other end of the spectrum is NOAA’s NAM model which shows this through Wednesday morning.
And here is the regional view of the NAM’s storm track
Jumping over to the Canadian model here are the totals
Here is the regional view of the storm track from the Canadian
The Euro is also backing off its earlier totals through Wednesday
Here is the regional view from the Euro showing a much weaker storm than the other models
So what if any conclusions can we draw at the moment? First of all, it is important to point out the models are expecting a closed area of low-pressure to develop off the So Cal coast tonight. Why is that significant to keep in perspective? Because trying to predict what path that something that does not exist yet will take can be filled with model error.
For now, expect some light snow today mostly from Purgatory to the north, tonight a chance of snow for the lower elevations going into tomorrow morning. If we get anything major it will likely start late Monday night or Tuesday morning.
By tomorrow morning the closed low (that does not yet exist) should be drifting onshore and the models may have a better idea where it is going to go, also, we could get a further delay in the eastward movement of the low.
So be aware that there is a chance of light to moderate snow early Monday and a chance of significant weather going into Tuesday. If you are going to be traveling especially towards or near ABQ and Santa Fe you could run into some travel problems. I am still on board for Wolf Creek getting at least 8-12′ by Wednesday, with double that amount if the storm track verifies further north. For other areas, I have no confidence in the models as they each have their own slightly different storm tracks.
It will be interesting to see three things this afternoon. First, the midday NAM model run, will it continue to show a northerly storm track? The second thing will be to see if they (NWS) adjust the snow totals for the Advisory and Winter Storm Watch. The third thing will be what they say in the afternoon forecast discussion. I expect to have at least a short update after I have seen all of those things, probably between 4 and 5 pm today.
A cold front will drop into northern Colorado late tonight and stall to our north. Light snow will accompany the front. During the day on Sunday, light snow will be possible, mostly north of Durango, but a few flurries can’t be ruled out as the cold front slowly moves south. Monday the snow will continue to drift south with light on-and-off snow. Meanwhile, in southern California a closed low pressure will drift onshore bringing showers to San Diego, the low will drift east bringing showers to Arizona and western New Mexico during the day on Monday.
Monday night the low pressure drifts close enough to increase the snow over our area. If the cold front drops far enough south, and the low opens up and crosses northern Arizona and northwest New Mexico, we will get some measurable snow during the day on Tuesday.
This is a very difficult storm to predict. Historically, about half of the time, these storms set up favorably for Montezuma and La Plata and Archuleta Counties. The other half of the time they stay mostly in New Mexico and open up just over Archuleta County and Wolf Creek Pass. Usually, either scenario works out golden for Wolf Creek. This is the type of storm that will have forecasters guessing and have weather apps flipping and flopping back and forth as the models try to get a better handle on the track of the storm.
Here are the totals through Wednesday morning for the first storm. With this storm track, it is going to be difficult to have confidence in any of the totals for areas other than Wolf Creek.
NAM- North American Model
Here is the Euro
In stark contrast to the other four models here is the German ICON
And finally, the GFS which looks more believable than the others to me.
After that storm leaves the models are planning on a larger storm coming in late next weekend or Monday, about 48 hours later than what they had showed the last few days.
Here are what the models (GFS, Canadian & Euro) now show for 10-day totals.
Next Update Sunday around 1 pm.
I have to say nobody was expecting 6 inches at Purgatory. I was up there until about 3 pm and it didn’t really stop. I mentioned yesterday how extraordinary it was to get that much snow with an unfavorable flow. What was interesting is the snow stake was not accurately representing what was falling, there were about 3 inches on my car when I left. There is always some secrecy surrounding the location of snow stakes at resorts. Purgatory is no exception when I ask select people in the know they clam up and button their lip. I have deduced that front of the snow stake faces west. I don’t really care where it is I just wish they would put it somewhere that accurately depicts the snowfall totals.
Telluride ended up with 8 inches and Wolf Creek 2 inches while Silverton Mountain has picked up 26 inches over the last 48 hours with 22 inches falling in 24 hours!
The Euro and GFS are getting closer to coming together in their forecast for next week. The GFS is showing light snow starting on Sunday and continuing on and off through Tuesday. The Euro is a little slower and shows snow starting later on Sunday but also continuing on and off through Tuesday morning. The Euro brings in another system Wednesday while the GFS holds off until Friday when it brings in a large storm. The Euro also is showing a large storm tracking over our area but just a little later on Friday night or Saturday morning. Both keep the snow going throughout next weekend with reinforcing waves of energy. Both also show additional storms lined up for the following week.
So here are the 10-day snow totals from the most recent model runs. I have intentionally left the Canadian off of here because its run looks like an anomaly.
And the GFS
The devil, of course, is in the details. I have mentioned this before but many times we see the models get the amounts right over an extended period of time, but they differ in how they arrive at that amount. So I am short on the details at this point, but I hope to have a better idea tomorrow and Sunday. Next Update Saturday afternoon.
I was writing my last Update suggesting this when this happened, nice to know we were on the same page.
NORTHWEST SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS-
INCLUDING THE CITIES OF TELLURIDE, OURAY, AND LAKE CITY
..WINTER STORM WARNING IN EFFECT UNTIL 5 PM MST FRIDAY
* WHAT…HEAVY SNOW. TOTAL SNOW ACCUMULATIONS OF 8 TO 18 INCHES
WITH LOCALLY HIGHER AMOUNTS ABOVE 9000 FEET. WINDS GUSTING AS
HIGH AS 50 MPH.
* WHERE…NORTHWEST SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS.
* WHEN…UNTIL 5 PM MST FRIDAY.
* IMPACTS…TRAVEL COULD BE VERY DIFFICULT TO IMPOSSIBLE. PATCHY
BLOWING SNOW COULD SIGNIFICANTLY REDUCE VISIBILITY. GUSTY
WINDS COULD BRING DOWN TREE BRANCHES.
Today Through Friday
The flow is strong for the Northern San Juans. Telluride and the Hwy 550 areas I mentioned yesterday are getting hammered. It is snowing at Purgatory and while I don’t expect too much over the next 24 hours the fact that it is snowing at all at Purgatory is pretty incredible. The best way to describe what is happening is to compare the atmospheric flow to a waterfall. At the bottom of the waterfall are the areas like Telluride that do well in these conditions, the river that runs to the waterfall is like a conveyor belt of moisture, only now that river is running at 200% of average, it is strong enough that Purgatory is getting the overflow, like the mist that comes off the waterfall.
As I said yesterday the heaviest precip will start just south of Coal Bank and continue north to Ouray. Fortunately, an advisory was issued for the area, but I think there will be some areas that receive warning criteria accumulations (>12 inches) so an upgrade from the NWS would not surprise me.
The NWS issued this a couple of hours ago.
NORTHWEST SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS-
INCLUDING THE CITIES OF TELLURIDE, OURAY, AND LAKE CITY
738 AM MST THU FEB 6 2020
..WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY IN EFFECT UNTIL 5 PM MST FRIDAY
* WHAT…SNOW EXPECTED. TOTAL SNOW ACCUMULATIONS OF 6 TO 12 INCHES
IN THE NORTHERN SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS.
* WHERE…NORTHWEST SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS.
* WHEN…THROUGH 5 PM MST FRIDAY.
* IMPACTS…TRAVEL WILL BE DIFFICULT AT TIMES.
The models’ very clear message that we saw a couple of days ago has turned muddled at best. The GFS and Canadian are showing very little snow, the Euro has decreased amounts but still shows a couple of storms next week, the German model is on board with the Euro.
The models are anticipating that a closed low will develop over Southern California, that has not changed, what has changed is the models were expecting it to drift east over Arizona and lift out over the Four Corners but now the GFS and Canadian are showing the closed low drifting south into Mexico before heading east. So at this point, we have seen a best-case scenario a couple of days ago and a worst-case scenario for next week from the GFS and Canadian this morning.
Hopefully, the models will settle somewhere in the middle of those two scenarios. I will be watching and I can’t wait to see what the next 24 and 48 hours will bring! Next Update Friday afternoon.
I had not planned on posting today, but hi-resolution models are picking up on some advisory criteria totals from Coal Bank Pass to Ouray on 550 beginning Thursday, ending late Friday.
I have not seen an advisory issued yet, perhaps tonight or tomorrow morning.
This is a zoomed-in version of La Plata County to the south, San Juan County and Ouray County to the north. You can see those double-digit totals in light pink, which is where 550 head through the passes, be careful if you are heading up that way tomorrow.
For those of you wondering about next week, the models overall are showing higher amounts than I posted yesterday, I will have a full update on that tomorrow.
Most weather professionals would tell you you can’t read too much into what models say when it is 6-7 days away. That is true if you are trying to determine exactly how much snow one area is going to end up with (that is difficult enough 12 hours out). But if you compare the models head to head and you have some decent agreement early on it is a very good sign. So take the predictions from the models lightly but be encouraged that they all are sniffing something out.
At this point, it is better to look at the snowfall over the entire next week (Monday-Friday) because at this point it is too early to tell if we will get one or two decent storms or three smaller storms. I am not ending the totals on Friday because I think everything stops on Friday, I am ending on Friday because two of the three operational models only forecast up to 240 hours. As we get closer, the timeframe will expand to later days so if the forecasted pattern continues I will talk about it later.
Here is the Canadian for Monday through Friday
The Euro same time frame
And the GFS
This is not the first time these amounts have been popping up, as I said earlier today.
On and off snow showers will be common in the higher elevations today, Thursday and Friday we may see some light accumulations above 8,700′. The weather will warm back up going into the weekend but before then we may some below zero temps tomorrow morning. My next update will be Thursday, hopefully the models will still be consistent with this pattern change for next week.!