Weekend Forecast (12/7-12/8):

Saturday December 7 – Clouds increasing during the day with a high in the 30s; west winds around 10-15 mph with gusts in the 30 mph range.

Sunday December 8 – Some snow (probably starting later in the day) with highs in the 20s, with west winds around 10-15 mph with gusts in the 30 mph range.

Forecast discussion:

Let’s start with the next few days.  As predicted by the models many days ago, today (Tuesday) the northern mountains are getting a light amount of snow (dusting to an inch) from a system passing to our north.   On Thursday another small storm will come in from the southwest.  With regards to Thursday’s storm, the American (GFS) is the most pessimistic with just a dusting of snow; while the NAM is the most optimistic with 4” of snow.  The Canadian (GDPS) and the CAIC WRF fall in between. 

On to this weekend.  A larger (but not large) storm comes in on Sunday and may last for several days.  The Canadian (GDPS) is calling for a colder, longer, and snowier storm than the American (GFS) right now.  American says roughly 2-4” of snow total; Canadian says roughly 9” of snow.  I took a quick look at the University of Utah’s analysis of the ensembles for the closest point to our patrol area, i.e., Berthoud Pass, but this seems to only cloud the picture (no pun intended) on whether it’ll snow much at all on Sunday/Monday.  Regardless, the westerly wind direction the models agree upon isn’t the most favorable for our patrol area (we love winds from the east or southeast).  Probably best to wait until Thursday to guess how much snow we’ll get on Sunday/Monday (and maybe Tuesday as well).  After the Sunday/Monday storm, things aren’t looking great for snow next week according to the American (GFS), but that’s far enough away not to get worried about.

Looking back, Saturday was extraordinarily windy with gusts recorded at a few spots over 100 mph.  With winds like that, in all fairness, it’s nearly impossible to say how much snow fell.  Eldora reported 3” for their Saturday morning snow report and 0” for their Sunday morning snow report – but one has to take both numbers with a grain of salt considering the winds.  Interestingly, the CAIC WRF Hi-Res, which often can be too aggressive on wind gusts, called the gusts that occurred spot on; while the American (GFS), Canadian, and NAM all were calling for very windy conditions but nothing like 100+ mph winds. 

As always, let me know your thoughts and what you observe.  Cheers.

-Jordan (on Tuesday 12/3 morning)