Weekend Forecast (12/7-12/8): Saturday (12/7): Partly cloudy with a high in the low to mid-30s. Windy. Sunday (12/8): Light snow, probably starting in the afternoon with a high in the upper 20s or low-30s. Winds decreasing. Forecast Discussion: Saturday will be warm, pleasant, but windy. A small system will bring snow by Sunday afternoon. Likely snowfall totals by Monday are in the 1-6” range. Here is what each model is saying: the CAIC WRF Hi-Res model is calling for 5” of snow, the Canadian (GDPS) model is calling for 3” of snow, the American (GFS) is calling for 1-3” of snow, and the NAM is calling for 1-2”. So, not a big storm, but we should pick up something. As for the winds, the CAIC WRF Hi-Res is calling for westerly winds on Saturday as high as in the 30s, with gusts as high as in the 70s, with decreasing winds on Sunday. The American (GFS) and Canadian (GDPS) models are calling for much less wind on Saturday. For example, the Canadian (GDPS) model is calling for winds in the 10-20 mph range with gusts at 40 mph and below. The NAM is splitting the difference between the two. Looking back, Eldora reported 2-3” from the Thursday storm (so the model average from the Tuesday forecast was spot-on). Looking forward, the next shot of snow will likely be in the next Friday/Saturday time frame. Although a storm a week away is almost into forecast fairyland, as of now it doesn’t look like a big storm for our patrol region. Although not really on topic, a quick side note on avalanche conditions. Two-and-a-half weeks ago avalanche conditions were so safe that I skied the Bethel Slide Path. Since then, we’ve seen multiple snowfalls and wind events, all on top of a base that in some places was dirt, in some places was facets, and in some places was consolidated. The avalanche conditions are so complex right now, for a twilight tour at Berthoud last night, I wasn’t even comfortable skiing the skier’s left entrance to Sasha’s. Bear in mind the complexity of avalanche conditions as you head out. Just my two cents. As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts, feedback, and observations. -Jordan (Friday morning)
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)
Forecast: Saturday (11/30): Cold (highs around 5-10 degrees), snowy, with strong westerly winds (20-40 mph with gusts in the 50s and higher). Sunday (12/1): Warmer (highs around 15-20 degrees), with skies slowly clearing, and decreasing westerly winds (around 10 mph with gusts in the 20s in the morning). Forecast Discussion: There’s a quick moving storm approaching from the west, that’ll bring very high winds on Saturday and provide some decent snow for the Continental Divide. (For example, the CAIC WRF Hi-Res is calling for 10-15” of snow at the continental divide in Boulder County and 7-9” of snow at the continental divide in Gilpin County.) The question is how far this will spillover to many of our regular patrol areas – Caribou, Brainerd Lake, etc. – and it’s not exactly clear. The CAIC WRF is calling for 8” at Eldora, and most of the other models are in the 4-7” range for the grids over our patrol area. Here’s my best guess. Most of our patrol area will be in the 4 to 10” inch range, with the highest amounts closer to the divide and in Boulder County as opposed to Gilpin County. That said, the winds are so strong, the snow totals probably don’t matter much as most of the snow will be blown to Kansas anyhow. (Okay, that’s not technically correct as the snow is sublimating and not blowing straight to Kansas, but it’s a fun saying). The storm blows out of our area overnight so by Sunday the winds will be lowering and the clouds will be clearing for a much more pleasant day. Looking back, the Tuesday storm ended up a bit further south than the models had predicted (with the low running over the Colorado / New Mexico border as opposed to just south of Denver), so the mountains above Boulder / Golden were in the cross-hairs. My house in Golden got 17”, Eldora picked up 11”, and the Continental Divide only got an inch or less. Looking forward, there will be a series of storms over the next week that look like they’ll only brush our patrol area – the first to our north around Tuesday and the second to our south around Thursday. We might get a few inches out of each, or we may just get a dusting. Regardless, it’s nice to be back in the snowier pattern. Hope you had a great Thanksgiving, and as always, I’d love to hear your observations and feedback. -Jordan (Friday morning)
Forecast: Snowy start to the week with the highest snow totals in northern and eastern ends of our patrol zone. Light snow and colder than recent weekends this upcoming weekend. Forecast discussion: Patrollers, here’s a quick early week update for those in town for Thanksgiving. Our patrol area should be getting a healthy dose (say 6-12”) of fresh snow Monday night through Tuesday. It looks like total snow amounts will be highest in the foothills west of Fort Collins. So, expect the highest snow totals in our backcountry patrol zone (good chance of a foot or more) to be both in the more northerly and the more easterly directions. Close to the divide above East Portal will probably get the least amount snow in our patrol area out of this storm. Below is the CAIC WRF Hi-Res Model’s predictions, which seems generally in line with our patrol area (but not other places like Berthoud Pass) as the other models I glanced at this morning: American (GFS); Canadian (GDPS); and NAM. There will be more light snow later in the week, probably lasting into the weekend. As of now, this weekend looks colder than recent weekends, with light snow. Looking back at this past Thursday’s forecast, I spent Sunday afternoon with the kids at Eldora, and it was just slightly warmer than I predicted it would be on Thursday. It was 37 degrees at 2 pm at my car – so figure a high of 35 degrees at 10,000 feet as opposed to the predicted low-30s. Otherwise, the Sunday forecast certainly felt spot on – partly cloudy, with winds in the 15-25 mph with gusts to 50 mph. One gust blew my skis and the kids skis off the ski rack while we were in the lodge. Sadly, Eldora got the bottom of my Thursday snow prediction – getting 2” of the 2-8” I forecasted on Thursday/Friday. Sorry I was too optimistic. This upcoming storm, at least, looks like a good one, with higher snow amounts (though following a similar pattern of stronger to the north) than I predicted this past Thursday. We’ll see. Looking back at this past Thursday’s forecast, I spent Sunday afternoon with the kids at Eldora, and it was just slightly warmer than I predicted it would be on Thursday. It was 37 degrees at 2 pm at my car – so figure a high of 35 degrees at 10,000 feet as opposed to the predicted low-30s. Otherwise, the Sunday forecast certainly felt spot on – partly cloudy, with winds in the 15-25 mph with gusts to 50 mph. One gust blew my skis and the kids skis off the ski rack while we were in the lodge. Sadly, Eldora got the bottom of my Thursday snow prediction – getting 2” of the 2-8” I forecasted on Thursday/Friday. Sorry I was too optimistic. This upcoming storm, at least, looks like good one, with higher snow amounts (though following a similar pattern of stronger to the north) than I predicted this past Thursday. We’ll see.
Forecast: Saturday (11/23): Partly cloudy with a high in the low 30s. West winds in the 10-20 mph range with gusts to 40. Sunday (11/24): Partly cloudy with a high in the low 30s. West winds in the 15-25 mph range with gusts to 50. Forecast Discussion: It’s great to be back to a snowy pattern. Eldora picked up 4-5” on Wednesday and Wednesday night. Depending upon the model, there should be another 2-3” (NAM and GFS); 3-4” (CAIC WRF) or 5-8” (Canadian) in our patrol zone between Thursday afternoon and Friday night. 2-8” doesn’t sound too silly-wide of a range to forecast, so let’s just go with that. The models tend to agree the numbers will increase the further north in our patrol zone one goes, or the closer to the Continental Divide one goes. This makes sense, especially as the winds will be shifting to the more typical westerly flow by Friday. This weekend will be the break in the stormy weather. Looking past this weekend, it will snow again on Monday into Tuesday. I’m struggling with how much we’ll likely get in this Monday / Tuesday storm as (i) both the American (GFS) Model and Canadian (GDPS) Model are calling for half a foot to foot of snow in the northern end of our patrol zone, (ii) the American Model is calling for similar amounts of snow on the southern end of our zone while the Canadian Model is basically calling for a dusting, and (iii) the decent winds from the west or west southwest that both models are predicting aren’t terribly favorable for our patrol zone. If you ask my role of the dice this far out, I’d guess we’re going to get a couple inches both days but nothing major, and more on the north end (Rock Creek) than the rest. Here’s to hoping the GFS Model is right, and I’m being too pessimistic. Regardless, the good news is that it looks like there is a good stack of storms lined up after the Monday / Tuesday one to hit Colorado for the foreseeable future. Yeah! As always, (i) the temperature / wind forecasts are for 10,000’ in unsheltered areas, and (ii) if you’re out skiing or snowshoeing in our patrol area, let me know what you see. -Jordan (forecast as of Thursday afternoon)