• Forecast: Saturday (2/22): Increasing clouds, highs in the mid-30s, strong westerly winds in the morning, but low winds by the end of the day. Sunday (2/23): Snow!  Highs in the mid-20s, northeasterly winds of 10 mph with gusts possible to 30 mph. Summary: Increasing clouds and decreasing winds on Saturday as a strong system approaches from the southwest.  Upslope snow on Sunday.  Light snow on Monday through Thursday, and then perhaps a ridge of high pressure takes over on Friday into next weekend. Forecast Discussion: A powerful system is coming in from the southwest.  These systems tend to produce well for our backcountry patrol zone, but the devil is in two details: (i) the location of the low pressure as it passes south of our region and (ii) the strength of the winds.  Some models have a favorable location of the low, and others do not.  All predict favorable winds of some sort, with some (like the WRF Model) being more favorable than others.  Here are the predictions for Sunday snow totals: 10” per WRF Model6.5” per the NAM Model4.5” per American Model and Canadian Model3” per the European Model After the Sunday storm, our backcountry patrol region is back into the mode of picking up snow from the spillover effect.  The European and Canadian Models have light snow through the week, with a total of 3” between Monday and Thursday.  The American Model predicts a 1.5” total during that same period.  Expect higher totals closer to the divide, as is typical for snow coming from the west or northwest.  Starting Friday, unfortunately, as of now it looks like a ridge of high pressure looks to dominate the weather out into forecast fairyland.  Boo! Retrospective Discussion: Looking back, the Wednesday afternoon system resulted in 2” at Eldora, which was right in the center of the various models’ predictions.  No surprises from that snow storm. Enjoy the Sunday snow! -Jordan (Friday 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.

  • Forecast: 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.

  • A quick update on the Saturday night through Tuesday snow totals, as the models are all over the map.  You should have low confidence in any forecast based upon these insane differences (2” to 20”).  Some models are picking up jet streak lift, and others are not, which is why the discrepancies are so extreme.  In other words, this may be a big storm, or it may be nothing.  If you eliminate the jet streak possibility, the storm doesn’t look big based upon general rules of how we get snow, but the jet streak has added in this crazy uncertainty.  Sorry for the unpredictability folks.  Here are the various Saturday night through Tuesday snow total numbers on the grid cells for Eldora/Brainerd: 2” – American Model 8” – NAM Model 8” – Canadian Model 10” – European Model 20” – WRF Model -Jordan (Saturday Evening) 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.

  • Forecast: Saturday (2/15): Partly cloudy, dusting of snow possible, highs in the mid-20s, west winds around 20 mph with gusts to 40 mph. Sunday (2/16): Light snow, highs around 30, southwest winds 10-20 mph with gusts to 40 mph. Forecast Discussion: After a relatively dry January, it’s nice that we’ve been in a snowy cycle.  The snow stake visible from Highway 40 near the summit of Berthoud Pass shows a total snow depth of 6 ½ feet, which is great for this time of year.  And, snow will continue over the next week, even if not in the same amount as the start of February. On Saturday, a system passes our patrol zone to the north which may mean some clouds and perhaps a dusting of snow later in the day.  From Sunday to Tuesday, a weak system hits us from the west, with winds from the southwest.  This is not a good pattern for our patrol zone, so don’t expect too much snow.  The American Model has the snow starting on Sunday at noon, going until Monday at midnight, with a total of 2”.  The Canadian Model is calling for two waves of snow, one on Sunday (4”) and another one on Monday night (6”), for a total of 10”.  The European Model has the storm starting a bit earlier on Sunday, with a total of 5”.  Regardless, the deepest totals in our patrol zone will likely be in the inaccessible St. Vrain Glaciers area.  Probably the highest totals in accessible areas will be near the divide in the East Portal area.  (I’d normally add what the WRF Model is saying, but it looks like the CAIC WRF servers are currently down.  With the servers located in Keystone, this happens occasionally.  I miss being able to look at my favorite model and get its opinion.) Looking forward, the American Model (but not the European or Canadian Model) has the next system coming in next Sunday (2/23) which per the American Model looks favorable for our patrol zone.  But, this is so far out in forecast fairyland, I won’t give it much thought until Tuesday’s forecast. Looking back, roughly 4” fell at Eldora in the Wednesday / Thursday system.  The WRF Model called this one nicely, while the European Model had a rather poor showing calling for a measly inch. Happy Valentine’s Day!  -Jordan (Friday 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.

  • Forecast: Saturday (2/15): Partly cloudy, highs in the mid-20s, westerly winds of 10-20 mph, gusts to 50 mph. Sunday (2/16): Partly cloudy, possible snow, highs in the mid-30s, southwesterly winds of 10 mph, gusts to 40 mph. Forecast Discussion: The last seven days have been incredible.  3-4 feet of snow in our backcountry patrol zone.  The next week probably won’t bring such big totals, but there is snow in our future.  A small system is in store for Wednesday / Thursday.  The WRF Model is the most optimistic model on this system with 4½” of snow forecasted.  The Canadian Model and American Models are both predicting 2.5”, and the European Model is predicting 1”.  Then, a system sweeps past us to the north on Saturday, which may bring a touch of snow early on Saturday.  The next significant system moves in either on either on Sunday (per the European Model), Monday (per the American Model), or not at all (per the Canadian Model).  Here are the model forecasts as of now for this President’s Day system: 8” per the American Model, 5” per the European Model, 1” per the Canadian Model.  Let’s hope the American Model is calling it better, as the American Model has all the ingredients for a decent storm except staying power, i.e., the storm has both easterly winds and lots of moisture. But, I’m getting ahead of myself.  Back to this weekend.  The American Model has clearing weather on Saturday and calls for a sunny Sunday until Sunday night when the President’s Day system begins to approach.  The Canadian Model, on the other hand, calls for both days to be partly cloudy, and the Monday system to not be significant.  At least both models agree on temperatures and winds.  The European Model, however, brings the storm in on Sunday. Looking back, I did an entire post on the differences between the predictions for the Thursday to Saturday storm and what actually happened.  So, let’s just take a look at the Saturday night to Sunday night storm.  Eldora reported 10” – which doesn’t sound unreasonable as skiing the south side of Bryan Mountain seemed like about 6” fresh around 12:30 pm Saturday, and it was still snowing significantly at that time.  How did the various models do?  The WRF Model did a pretty good job of predicting 7”, i.e., 70% of the reported total.  The Canadian Model’s prediction of 5” (i.e., 50% of the reported total) wasn’t exactly good, but the other model’s predictions (3” per European Model, 2.5” per American Model, and 2” per NAM Model) were atrocious.  For what it’s worth, it was also significantly warmer on Sunday than predicted – highs in the low 20s as opposed to about 10 degrees.  Roughly 2½” of snow fell Monday night, which was in line with model forecasts. Thinks snow! -Jordan (Tuesday afternoon) 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.