Forecast: Saturday (1/25): Partly cloudy, highs in the upper 20s, westerly winds around 10 mph with gusts to 25 mph. Sunday (1/26): Partly cloudy, highs in the low 30s, westerly winds around 10 mph with perhaps a few gusts. Forecast Discussion: Salaam Alaykum from Marrakech Morocco, where although not Colorado snow, there has been enough recent snowfall in the Atlas Mountains to reopen Oukaimeden Ski Area. It’s not Colorado, but it’s fun to make turns in Africa. My apologies for the delayed forecast, and the brief forecast, but it’s tricky finding time while overseas. Light snow this week (one to four inches additional), and as always the most snow near the divide. There’s a break in the snow this weekend. Snow restarts early next week, with the European model showing significant snow (10+ inches at the Continental Divide, with some snow all the way down to the front range). The American model shows just an inch, and the Canadian model splits the difference. Let’s keep our fingers’ crossed that the European Model is right. Looking back, Eldora reported 3” of snow on Friday, which was slightly above the most optimistic model. -Jordan (Tuesday evening)
- Updated Weekend Forecast (1/18-1/19): Windy / Snowy Friday, Nice(ish) Weekend, Snow Starting Again Next Tuesday
Forecast: Saturday (1/18): Mostly sunny, highs in the low 20s, westerly winds starting day as high as 40 mph with gusts to 80 mph, but ending the day at 10-20 mph with gusts to 30 mph. Sunday (1/19): Mostly sunny, highs in the upper 20s, variable winds in the 10 mph range with gusts to 25 mph. Forecast Discussion: Light snow and very windy on Friday (CAIC WRF Hi-Res is forecasting gusts over 100 mph). As for snow totals, the models are in the 1-3” range. (Specifically, the CAIC WRF Hi-Res is calling for 2.5”, the Canadian (GDPS) and European (ECMWF) are calling for 2”, the American (GFS) and the NAM are both calling for 1”.) The highest snow totals likely near the divide on the south end of our patrol zone. Saturday and Sunday look to be mostly sunny, with decreasing winds on Saturday and moderate winds on Sunday. If anyone is patrolling on MLK day, it should be even more pleasant – likely the nicest weather of the long weekend. Then there will be snow on Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday. The American (GFS) has snow on Wednesday and Thursday, with a total of 7.5”. The Canadian (GDPS) has snow on Tuesday and Wednesday, with a total of 2”. The European solution unfortunately is looking more like the Canadian one, with less snow. Let’s hope the Americans are right on this one. Looking further forward, it looks like there will be a break next Friday (1/24). Out in forecast fairyland, the European (ECMWF) is calling for snow next Saturday (1/25), but neither the American (GFS) nor the Canadian (GDPS) are predicting snow. Looking back, unfortunately Eldora only reported 1” of snow Wednesday morning (3” from Sunday through Tuesday night). So, the 3” predicted by the CAIC WRF and Canadian models were a bit too optimistic – with the other major models making more accurate predictions. As always, the forecast is for 10,000’ in exposed areas. Please let me know your thoughts and observations. And my apologies for timing. I’ve been aiming to get these out Tuesday and Friday morning in preparation for the call, but the pressures of work and travel have meant that I’ve had to do a number of these forecasts the evening before. -Jordan (Thursday evening)
Forecast: Saturday (1/18): Partly cloudy, highs in the mid to upper 20s, westerly 10 mph winds. Sunday (1/19): Partly cloudy, highs in the low to mid 20s, westerly 10 mph winds with gusts to 25 mph. Forecast Discussion: Hello from Squaw Valley – I’m writing this forecast on Monday evening as opposed to the usual Tuesday morning as I plan to be skiing Tuesday morning before the NSAA conference. Let’s start with the Tuesday / Tuesday night system. Both the CAIC WRF and the Canadian (GDPS) models are calling for 3” Tuesday through Tuesday night; while the NAM model is calling for 1.5”, the European (ECMWF) model is calling for 1”, and the American (GFS) model is only calling for ½”. Call me an optimist – but when the WRF (which is probably my favorite model) is aligning with the Canadian model (which has called the last few systems better than the others) agree on more snow – that’s a good sign. Let’s hope for the 3”. Wednesday through Thursday are fairly pleasant weather-wise. I don’t like pleasant weather. A rather complex system (part coming from the west, which I like as I’m in Squaw Valley much of this week, and part coming from the southwest) looks to hit our patrol area around Friday. Complexity in this case, unfortunately, doesn’t mean big snow. The Canadian (GDPS) model is calling for 4” on Friday; while both the European (ECMWF) and the American (GFS) are calling for 1”. Let’s hope the Canadians are right. The American (GFS) and Canadian (GDPS) models agree on this weekend – highs in the 20s and relatively low winds as our patrol area goes. Looking forward, the next system looks to come in around Wednesday January 22. It’s too far away to say much yet. Looking back, on Sunday there was only a dusting of snow at Eldora’s parking lot and lower on the Jenny Creek trail, but close to 2” on Guinn Mountain. It was windy, but nothing at all like the 70 mph gusts predicted by the WRF model. And, although there was light snow in the morning, it was mostly sunny by the afternoon. Looking back at my forecast, while none of the models were spot-on, the Canadian model came out the closest to accurate. As always, please let me know your thoughts and feedback. And you’ll notice that I’m now including the European Model into the forecast as I’ve found a website that provides for free some of its output. Due to the interface, I’m only planning on looking at the snowfall totals, at least for now. -Jordan (Monday evening)
Forecast: Saturday (1/11): Increasing clouds with snow by nightfall, highs around twenty, westerly winds at 10-20 mph with gusts to 50 mph. Sunday (1/12): Light snow with highs in the mid-teens, westerly winds at 10-20 mph with gusts to 50 mph. Forecast Discussion: One system is moving out this (Friday) morning, and the next one will move in on Saturday. This weekend will be cold, especially on Sunday, with light snow and the usual windy conditions. As of 4 pm Sunday, the CAIC WRF is calling for 3” of new snow, the Canadian (GDPS) Model is calling for 1.5”, and the American (GFS) Model is only calling for a trace. Maybe because I’m optimistic, but as the CAIC WRF tends to be the (albeit slightly) more accurate model on snowfall, and 3” from a westerly storm doesn’t sound inaccurate, my money is on the CAIC WRF. Regardless, this system will favor both closer to the divide (always true with a westerly system) and further to the north in our patrol zone. If anyone was crazy enough to get to the St. Vrain Glaciers on Sunday, which hopefully no one is, I bet that area will pick up close to a foot of snow out of this storm. As for the wind gusts this weekend, that’s a tricky one to guess (uh, I mean forecast). The CAIC WRF Model is calling for steady winds at 20 mph and gusts to 70 mph. The American (GFS) Model and the Canadian (GDPS) Model are both calling for winds at the 10 mph range with gusts to 30-40 mph. That’s a massive difference and we’ll see which one is right. The system doesn’t end with the weekend. The Canadian (GDPS) Model is remaining bullish and is calling for 9½” total between Saturday and Wednesday. The American (GFS) Model is calling for 2” total during the same period. Let’s hope the Canadians are right. Looking forward, the next system comes on Friday or Saturday, but as that’s skirting forecast fairyland, I’m not ready to guess whether we’ll see decent snow out of it or not. Another one is set to head to our area next Tuesday (1/21), but that’s way out in forecast fairyland. Looking back, Eldora reported 2” Wednesday night, and 1” on Thursday / Thursday night. As such, it looks like the Canadian (GDPS) model did the best in predicting this week’s midweek snow. I’ll be curious to see how accurate my Sunday forecast is on Sunday as I have a patrol day in the Eldora Sidecountry / Lost Lake. If you’re interested in joining me on this patrol day, please reach out to me directly. One other note. As of the time of writing this, the CAIC has the avalanche danger as “low” below treeline for the front range zone. For what it’s worth, I wouldn’t even dream of skiing the below treeline Lost Lake Couloir on Sunday. CAIC’s low is very different than what I consider to be low. Stay safe out there – avalanche conditions (at least on the west side of the divide where I’ve spent more time recently) remain tricky and worrisome. -Jordan (Friday morning) P.S. I wrote 95% of this on Thursday night due to work time constraints on Friday, so the model runs I refer to above are from the later runs on Thursday.
Forecast: Saturday (1/11): Increasing clouds then light snow, highs in the low 20s, with westerly winds, maybe gusty. Sunday (1/12): Light snow and cold, with highs in the teens, and westerly winds, maybe gusty. Forecast Discussion: No major snowfalls over the next week, but we should see an inch here and an inch there of snow in our backcountry patrol zone from now through middle of next week. We may pick up a couple inches of snow (especially in the locations closer to the Continental Divide) from Wednesday night to Friday mid-day. American (GFS) Model is calling for 1” over the two day period, the CAIC WRF is calling for 1.5”, and the Canadian (GDPS) model is calling for 2.5”. The northern end of our patrol zone should get more snow than the southern end of our patrol zone. While the wind direction (west) is not terribly favorable for our patrol zone, the cold temperatures on Thursday and Friday are conducive to dendritic growth, meaning fluffier snow. Moving to the weekend, the American (GFS) and Canadian models are both calling for a lull in snow from mid-day Friday to Saturday morning, and then another round of snow Saturday mid-day to Wednesday morning. The Canadian is more bullish with total snowfall from this second system at 6” over the several day period (with 3” between Saturday morning and Sunday evening). The American (GFS) separates out the snow into a Saturday/Sunday portion, and a Tuesday night portion. It has a total of 3” out of the system, with 1” on Saturday/Sunday, and 2” on Tuesday night. The Canadian version places Sunday as the windier of the two weekend days, while the American places Saturday as the windier of the two weekend days. Looking forward into the crystal ball beyond this time, the American (GFS) Model is calling for another storm next Saturday. Looking back, as usual I try to look at what my last forecast discussed and predicted versus what actually happened. I heard from many instructors and students that Saturday was very windy at St. Mary’s Glacier for the first day of the Level 1 class. No surprise there. (If it wasn’t for the winds at St. Mary’s, there’d be no St. Mary’s Glacier, which is Colorado’s lowest elevation permanent snowfield / glacier.) The Sunday class in Second Creek, however, saw basically no wind. I only felt winds over 5 mph when actually at the elevation of the Broome Hut, and still the surface winds were not strong at all. As such, it seems that the CAIC WRF Model way overpredicted the winds in the Berthoud Pass region on Sunday. On the other hand, Eldora picked up 3” on Sunday night, which is more consistent with the CAIC WRF prediction of 3.5” than any of the other models. So, the WRF both had the best and worst prediction of the past weekend. As always, forecasts are for 10,000’ in exposed areas, unless otherwise specified. (I should also note that whenever I refer to the CAIC WRF model in these forecasts, I’m always referring to their Hi-Res model as opposed to their regular model.) I’d love any and all feedback you might have. -Jordan (Tuesday morning)