Hold onto your ski helmets, for the first time in forever, the models are actually calling for enough snow to have to take off your second glove to count up the inches, and maybe one or two ski boots too!  Even the groundhog saw his shadow this morning, so I’m in a great mood!  Let’s delve into the details (and apologies, but they’re complicated).

A weak system from the southwest combines with a stronger system from the west to produce snow starting Wednesday evening.  The model forecasts for Wednesday to Thursday morning in our patrol zone are as follows:

UKMet – 6”

European Model – 5”

WRF Model – 3”

Canadian and American Models – 2”

Even though the brunt of the system is past us by mid-day Thursday, the snow looks likely to linger until the next system on Friday/Saturday descends from the northwest. 

Canadian Model has steady snow from Friday until next Monday, with 13” additional during that time frame.  The UK Met is predicting 8”, the European Model is predicting 5”, and the American Model predicting only has 2” during this time frame. 

Complicating all these numbers are two items.  First, is the jet stream.  It looks to be very fast over us on Wednesday – but the jet streak doesn’t look to have our patrol zone in its sights on Wednesday for the best spots for snow.  It may have a better aim at our region on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday – but regardless jet streaks make forecasts less predictable.

Second, as for the snow produced by orographic lifting as opposed to the jet, it looks to be almost all spillover (coming from the western half of the compass) into our patrol zone.  Temperatures look cold, which is good for snow growth and more snow coming in than forecasted, but dealing with only spillover can be finicky and unpredictable.  In short, hard to say how this will play out.

When we total up the next ten days, as it looks to keep snowing after next Monday as well, we’re looking at some pretty impressive numbers from now to late next week.  Here are the total snow forecasts of each of the three main medium term models for our patrol zone:

Canadian Model – 20”

European Model – 13”

American Model – 7”

C’mon snow!

Retrospective Discussion:

Eldora reported 1” on Sunday morning, right in line with most model predictions. 

Happily for our avalanche class and the Berthoud Pass region, as I was hoping, the snowfall far exceeded even the most optimistic model.  Butler/Jones felt like 6” of fresh snow on Saturday, and measuring the new snowfall in data pits on Sunday in Second Creek I measured 6.5”. 


-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.