Saturday (2/22): Partly cloudy, light snow possible, highs in the low 30s, winds at 10 mph or less.

Sunday (2/23): Partly cloudy, light snow possible, highs in the mid-20s, light westerly winds but gusts potentially increasing later in the day.

Forecast Discussion:

It’s been a wonderfully snow February so far, and every indication is that this snowy pattern will continue!

A quick system moves in from the northwest on Wednesday afternoon, with winds that will blow (albeit weakly) from the eastern half of the compass.   The low winds mean that the higher elevation regions of our backcountry patrol zone will likely see less snow than the lower elevation regions of our backcountry patrol zone.  Snow predictions for the Wednesday afternoon system (at roughly Eldora’s location) are as follows:  3” per WRF and Canadian Models, 2” per the NAM Model, 1.5” per American Model, 1” per the European Model.

The next system comes in from the southwest late Saturday, but it’s fast moving.  These storms (if slower) often provide decent upslope snow for our patrol zone, but presumably due to its speed and lack of wrap around moisture, the models have low snow totals (if any snow) predicted.  The European Model is calling for 1”, the American Model is calling for ½”, the Canadian Model is calling for no snow.  Regardless, the most snow (if any) from this system will likely be in the southwest portion of our patrol zone.

Then, a more powerful system potentially comes in from the northwest on Monday / Tuesday, but our patrol zone looks to just be getting spillover.  Of course, this prediction is practically out in forecast fairyland.  Snow predictions for the Monday / Tuesday system are: 4” per the Canadian Model, 2” per the European Model, and 1.5” per the American Model. 

Looking back, it’s interesting to compare the reality of this past Saturday night to Tuesday morning storm (13” total at Eldora) with the model’s predictions.  Four days before the start of the system, the European Model had the best guess on timing (starting Sunday morning), and the American Model had the best guess on snow totals (8”).  But, the American Model was about to fall on its face as the storm got closer.  A day and a half before the start of the system, the Canadian Model had the best snow prediction (10”), while the European Model was pretty far off the mark (5”), and the American Model was embarrassingly low (2”).  At the start of the storm the WRF Model overpredicted the storm (20”), the European Model was pretty close (10”), and the Canadian and NAM Models underpredicted the storm (8” each).  However, the American Model continued at the beginning of the storm to forecast a mere 2”.  Yikes.  As always, it’s never great to put too much faith into any one model.

-Jordan (Tuesday morning)

Note: Unless otherwise noted, all forecasts are for 10,000’ in exposed areas.  References to American Model are the American (GFS) Model.  References to the Canadian Model are the Canadian (GDPS) Model.  References to the WRF Model are the CAIC WRF Hi-Res Model.  References to the European Model are the European (ECMWF) Model.