That was quite the storm that just hit us! Strong NW flow with embedded shortwaves and a very strong cold front equalled big snow totals…for some.
Saturday in Denver was beautiful. Do you remember? At 4PM we reached 70º! And then a mere 16 hours later, it was 21º and snowing. In 16 hours, we dropped 49º. That sounds like a very large temperature drop and it is but it’s not the largest we’ve ever seen here in Denver and it’s not even big enough to make it into the top 20 biggest temperature drops.
With that said, we broke plenty of temperature records in the last few days.
These temperatures were the coldest temperatures we have seen since 1933. While there is more cold in the coming days, the temperatures won’t be nearly as cold as what we just experienced. Speaking of what we just experienced, let’s talk about that snow fall.
Check out the reported snowfall map above. DIA, where official Denver records are kept, saw only 1 inch of snow. Downtown Denver reported between 2-4 inches of snow and areas in the Western suburbs and Foothills reported 6-18 inches of snow. OVer the course of 30 miles, you saw either 1 inch of snow or more than 18. That’s tough to forecast but everything verified rather nicely regardless of the bigger total surprises.
Let’s Talk About The Upcoming Storm
The parent weather pattern that is bringing us all of this weather lately is remaining persistent and energetic. A large trough draped over the Northern Rockies will continue to funnel stormy conditions into Colorado. At the surface, a cold front will move through bringing additional moisture and lift to the area. The Jet Stream, a river of moisture in the atmosphere, is bringing winds and energy from the northwest. When these elements come together like they appear to be, we typically see some impressive snow totals.
Winter storm alerts are already out for portions of Colorado.
The National Weather Service in Boulder has already issued winter weather alerts for the highlights areas above. The concern with this storm is going to be heavy, blinding snow at times with fast accumulation. Rather than a longer duration event recently, we should see most accumulation occur in a fraction of the time.
We are already under NW flow aloft. What we are currently missing is the cold front and the shortwave. Our shortwave trough will move through Wednesday night increasing snow from north to south. The cold front isn’t expected to move through until Thursday morning and that is when some of the heavier snow should form over Denver and the surrounding suburbs.
A few of the parameters that are still unclear are the timing of the cold front and the initiation of heavy snow and where that sets up. That’s why you don’t see alerts over Denver currently. Models have been trending lower for this storm but still, accumulations in the 2-6 inch range are possible – which is below advisory criteria.
With the jet flying overhead, it will create banding within the snow showers. Or areas of heavier snow. Under those bands, we could expect some heavy snowfall rates and depending on where the bands set up, will be very deterministic on who sees the most snow.
As we head towards the weekend we can look towards and overall drying and warming trend. Highs could push 60º on Saturday and reach the lower 60s on Sunday with partly cloudy skies.
~ Rain or Shine
I’m Andy Stein