POWDER WATCH! COLORADO IS IN THE SPOTLIGHT FOR HEAVY SNOW FRIDAY/SATURDAY
April 18, 2018- AM Report
I nabbed what may be my last day of the season yesterday at Snowbird. 4 inches on the morning snow report kept most folks in bed (Many have put their boards away for the season). By 9AM there was a solid 7 inches at lower elevations. The tram had mechanical issues until 10:30 AM (Bonus) that allowed the upper mountain to fill into at least a foot for the Peruvian side. I hiked up to the summit from Little Cloud and nabbed a deep run on Great Scott before the tram opened. There was an ice layer from the deep freeze on most surfaces below including Baldy. By 2PM that layer dissipated (14-20 inches had fallen at upper elevations) and several North facing runs were bottomless.
Low pressure is going to ramp up over Colorado late this week. Here is a list of resorts in Colorado that are still open that I grabbed from the Open Snow forecast- Colorado (Joel Gratz).
Arapahoe Basin (likely open into June)
Breckenridge (limited terrain, closes Sunday 4/22)
Eldora (closes Sunday 4/22)
Loveland (closes Sunday 5/6)
Mary Jane (close Sunday 5/6)
Winter Park (closes Sunday 4/22)
Snow will begin falling as early as Thursday evening in the San Juan mountains above 10,000 feet. The GFS and EURO disagree on placement with one over the Northern areas near Telluride and another more focused on Wolf Creek. Wolf Creek (Closed) summit may nab 12-15 inches of wet pow through Friday mid morning. Its a moot point since we are not chasing there but lets get to the Front Range forecast where some opportunity exists for a powder day late Friday and early Saturday.
Winds shift from the SE to the N or NE Friday mid morning or early PM. This will shift snowfall into the southern Front Range. Warm temps initially Friday (Snow levels are 9-10,000 feet) will lower to 8-9,000 feet by Saturday morning (Decent quality up top). While the track of the low is going to remain south of Denver, decent moisture with upslope flow should crank out respectable amounts for many ski areas Friday afternoon through Saturday. Models show 5-9 inches in Eagle (Vail) and western Summit with 7-10 inches possible for eastern Summit County (Keystone or Breckenridge). Higher amounts are possible over Berthoud Pass and the Loveland Ski areas with north or northeast winds late Friday and early Saturday (10-18). Snow levels should be high enough to minimize travel impacts close to Denver, however I-70 will be snow packed as you approach the Eisenhower Tunnel Saturday morning. Models also show significant snow for the highest peaks surrounding Aspen-(Closed). This may be a result of a more west or NW flow being shown in the far western mountains.
Below: Snowfall totals through Saturday morning in Colorado.
Below: Snowfall totals based on an average of the GFS and Canadian models for Berthoud Pass. The mean (Dark line) is around 15 inches with some models in the 20 inch range. Poor consensus among models currently. The 2nd map shows the Eisenhower Tunnel as similar amounts (Slightly less).
The Good: Late Friday snow (Last chair may offer empty slopes and some fresh powder). Colder Friday night, with most snow falling for 1st chair Saturday. The Bad: Any further track south will reduce snow totals that I will update on Thursday. Warm temps Friday could provide some crust layers on Saturday, but temps never plunge too low. If moisture comes in wet initially you will dodge this scenario.
My confidence is high on a significant storm for Colorado but still less than 50% on exactly who will see the highest totals. I will update these totals on my next post.
High Pressure will fill in next week for most of the west. There are some signals of some weak or moderate systems moving through late April and early May.
Below: Decent system possible for the west in the early May period with a weaker system possible for the southern Rockies in the 4th week of April.
This will be our final week posting on Powderchasers for the season. Thanks to everyone that has followed vicariously, chased, scored powder with us or scored 1st chairs.
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