Report From OpenSnow.com
Monday and Tuesday will be snowy across Colorado, though this is a complicated storm that will affect different parts of the state at different times. The next system will bring a quick shot of snow on Wednesday night, and then a series of storms will bring more snow between about Nov 27-30 and again around Dec 2-5. The pattern is shaping up to be phenomenal and I expect a lot more terrain to open by mid-December.
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Short Term Forecast
Webcams on Monday morning show that some snow is starting to fall in the central and southern mountains.
I bet that the higher elevations of the southern mountains, above 10,000 feet, have already seen 3-6 inches on Sunday night (Update: Purgatory’s snow stake shows 4-6 inches: https://opensnow.com/location/purgatory). Most other areas in the central and northern mountains have not seen much snow on Sunday night or Monday morning because a wind from the southwest is only favorable for the southern mountains.
Monday The first part of this storm will be warm, and the snow level will be at about 10,000 feet (+/- 500 feet) during. This means that most of the mid and upper elevations of mountains will see snow, but that the lower mountains and towns will likely see rain on Monday (I know, I know, I shouldn’t use the “R” word). Also, the heaviest precipitation should fall in the southern mountains, with a few showers pushing their way into the central and northern mountains.
Monday night is when the storm will move over Colorado, and this should be a transition time as cooler air arrives and the heavier snow moves into the central and northern mountains.
Tuesday will be a cool and snowy day for most of the state as a wind from the west and northwest keeps the snow going for the northern and central mountains, as well as the north side of the southern mountains (Telluride, Silverton).
Total snow accumulations will likely be greater than 10 inches at the higher elevations of the southern mountains (Silverton, Wolf Creek), and likely in the 4-8 inch range for most of the central and northern mountains.
Here is the snow forecast from the high-resolution NAM 4km model.
And here is the forecast from the CAIC WRF 4km model.
Both models are confident that the highest amounts of snow will fall in the southern mountains, and over to the Grand Mesa and Flattops on the western side of the state. These areas could/should see 10+ inches.
For other central and northern mountains, 4-8 inches is a safe range, and most of this will fall on Monday night and Tuesday. Some central and northern mountains could get more than 10 inches IF:
1) Heavier cells of snow move over the mountain on Monday afternoon/evening. It is impossible to forecast the exact placement of these cells, even now as the storm is nearing Colorado. Hope for the best!
2) The cool wind from the west and northwest on Monday night and Tuesday creates heavier orographic snowfall than expected. This is possible because this storm is bringing in lots of moisture (and moisture is the fuel for snow), but I also have my doubts about the orographic snow because temperatures will be a bit warmer than what I’d like see.
Regardless of the exact snow amounts, there should be powder for most areas on Tuesday morning. Granted, only a few runs are open at a few mountains, but there will be fresh snow, so ski it if you can find somewhere to ski!
Wednesday will be a dry and sunny day, and a great day to travel ahead of Thanksgiving.
Wednesday night will be the time for our next snowfall as a fast-moving storm moves across northern Colorado. Expect 2-4 or 3-6 inches of snow from Aspen north to I-70 and north to Wyoming. Most snow will fall between midnight on Wednesday night and mid-morning on Thanksgiving Day. Expect fresh turns on Thursday morning in the northern half of the state!
Thursday afternoon and Friday should be dry, and then the fun might really begin!
Here is the forecast from Saturday, November 26th through Wednesday, December 7th. Blue areas on the map show the chance for stormier, cooler weather, and red areas show the chance for drier, warmer weather.
That’s right – most of the time from Nov 27 – Dec 7 will be cool and potentially stormy for Colorado. This forecast does NOT guarantee that every mountain will see snow every day, but this forecast is about as good as we can hope for because it signals the chance for continuous storms with few periods of warm and dry weather.
I can’t provide any more specifics about the timing of each individual storm, but it appears that in general, Sunday Nov 27 to Wednesday Nov 30 could be stormy, and then we might have another stormy period between Friday Dec 2 through about Monday Dec 5.
If some or all of late November and early December does turn out snowy, like the longer-range forecasts suggest, then we should have a lot of terrain open across the state by mid-December.
Thanks for reading, and happy Monday!