Snow. It’s on the brains of a lot of people right now. Especially since we have two ski areas in the state that are open for business (Keystone and Arapahoe Basin)!
But Mother Nature hasn’t been providing much help other than offering cold enough temperatures to work with to produce man-made snow. This weekend could change things up just a bit. A couple of shots of snow and cold are on the way for the Colorado High Country but first, let’s look at overall snowpack across North America.
Snow and Ice cover across North America
There really isn’t much significant snow cover across the US. The mountains of Montana and Wyoming have been benefiting most from the early season snows but largely, we’re not looking at solid snowpack just yet.
CHANCE #1 Our first chance for some measurable snow comes on Thursday night and continues through Saturday morning when a weak shortwave trough will move over.
ECMWF Geopotential Heights on Friday
The image above shows a look at the 500 mb geopotential heights. Essentially what we’re looking for here is a lowering of heights – or more reds, yellows, and greens rather than the tan color. Although not significant, it will be enough to lower temperatures and bring in some additional moisture to the state. Overall, this won’t produce a lot of snow but it will produce some.
Snowfall expected through Saturday morning
notice how just about every mountain range in Colorado will see accumulating snow. It’s hard to say where the best snow will fall but with this system coming in from the north and west, the northern mountains will likely be favored as usual in these patterns. The highest total that I would expect to see with this blast would be upwards of 6-10″ on the highest and most favored peaks but I think most people will generally see between 2-6″.
SNOW CHANCE #2
Our second chance of snow comes Saturday night through early next week. This is going to be a more prominent system that could even bring some snowflakes down into the Denver Metro.
ECMWF Geopotential Heights on Sunday
Notice how this image of the heights looks much different than the one above. It looks as low a cut off low will form somewhere in the Colorado/Wyoming/Nebraska area and that will allow for more snow and more cold to move in.
Snowfall expected through the next 7 days
Above is a look at the anticipated snowfall through next Wednesday. This includes the snow that we’ll see Thursday through Saturday. One thing that stands out most from the image above is that the northern and central mountains will be favored more than the southern and southwest mountains. At this point, I’m thinking a more widespread 4-8″ of snow is expected with the favored slopes getting upwards of a foot of snow! That’ll be good news for the ski areas hoping to get a final boost of natural snow before opening.
Temperatures are also going to vary quite a bit.
Temperatures at Monarch Pass through next weekend
Ahead of these systems, fire danger is up with windy conditions and low humidity levels and warm temperatures. Then we see a gradual decrease in temps through early next week with average temperatures continuing through the weekend. Overnight lows should be well cold enough for snowmaking efforts to continue.
WHAT ABOUT DENVER:
Well, Denver isn’t going to see much from either of these storms. We could see a few flakes fly Sunday night into Monday morning but it doesn’t look as if anything will accumulate. Overall, Denver will remain mainly dry through the next 10 days or so. We have a few chances for RAIN showers but nothing that will add up to much.
Temperatures in Denver through the next 10 days
Denver’s temperatures in this transitionary period between season will, of course, vary quite a bit. After some hot days near 80º, we’ll see these systems move through and drop temps. Most notably, we’ll see our temp drop from Thursday to Friday by about 20º. Then we will likely stay below average by a couple of degrees through the middle of next week when we see a brief warm-up.
We’ll have to wait longer for the “big one” to hit but for now, let’s be happy that we have some snow and cooler temperatures expected.