Lots of uncertaintity on the exact placement of the highest moisture this week. High certaintity of double digits over much of Colorado Monday-Tuesday. Just where it will nail the remaining open ski areas is a wildcard. Someone is going to get 12-15 inches, but I can't be precise on who and when. Just when I thought I was done posting, I decided to sneak in another Powder Alert.
Snow will begin falling Sunday night into Monday morning over much of Colorado this week. Complex wind directions (Elevation dependant) and shifts has put the models in poor agreement of who recieved the highest totals. Southwest winds initially Monday will favor areas south of I-70 (Perhaps Leadville), and areas north of I-70 towards the Wyoming border (SW winds will push signficant moisture towards Laramie WY and areas south towards Steamboat). The GFS has higher totals edging north by Monday midday in Summit County while the Euro keeps most moisture north towards Fort Collins and areas west to Steamboat. Complicating the forecast even further, the lower levels of the atmosphere (5K) will provide upslope conditions (E, NE) providing snow for the Foothills of Jefferson, Boulder and areas north. Some low elevation snow in the metro areas is likely Monday. Aim for storm skiing somewhere along I-70 Monday late AM or early PM where it's likely that light to moderate amounts will be falling (Areas east towards Georgetown or areas north to Steamboat (Closed) or Cooper (Closed) may see higher amounts. Breckenridge, Abasin, and Loveland are all wildcards for Monday.
Below: Colder air along the Front Range Foothills with NE winds will bring snow to the lower elevations, witht the highest amounts in the Foothills. Warmer air over Summit County may limit snow totals initially Monday (Temps are at 10K feet Monday). The Eisenhower Tunnel may offer an inbetween solution (Colder than areas west).
Below: Temps are cooling over the mountains late Monday into Tuesday (8500-9K snow levels towards the Divide and colder further east)
The upper atmosphere further west towards the ski areas shows SW or Southerly winds which is not optimal for heavy snow along I-70, but may sneak in some decent numbers for Breckenridge and areas west towards Aspen (Open this weekend). While I am cautiously optimistic for decent snow totals for Summit or Clear Creek Counties (Loveland) in looking at the models, I am not happy about the wind direction especially Monday. Late Monday into Tuesday shows a more westerly flow over the mountains which may increase snow intensity for Summit County.
Additional impulses of light energy are likely Tuesday into Wednesday (May be a break Tuesday before another shortwave pushes in for Wednesday morning).
Temperatures for this week will be unseasonably cool especially for the Front Range near Denver. The models show colder air towards moving into the Front Range locations with warmer conditions along or west of the Divide. Snow quality may suffer somewhat in the moutains initially Monday (SW winds) but could be better on Tuesday. Snow levels near Boulder are around 6,000 feet with the mountains further west in the 8-9K range.
Who scores? In looking at all the data its a crapshoot for chases on Monday (Aim for late AM to early PM for some sneak up powder, perhaps Breckenridge or Loveland). Monday night should offer addtional moderate snow (3-7) for many ski areas. Storm totals may top the scales along Rocky Mountain National Park, Flattops, Buffalo Pass (Steamboat), and the Laramie Range. Leadville and areas west towards Aspen should also do well. Summit and Clear Creek Counties are a wildcard for anywhere from 5-15 inches (Large spread due to uncertaintitly in models, temps, and wind direction). The Foothills near Boulder and areas north should do well with higher confidence.
Below: University of Utah SREF plumes showing anywhere from 5-30 inches of snow for the Eisenhower Tunnel. The mean is between 10-20 inches with lots of uncertaintity due to the wide spread of lines below and above (Not good consensus). My gut tells me that 10 inches is a good conservative guess.
Below: Total snowfall through Tuesday morning for Colorado. Highest totals may land north of Steamboat at Buff Pass, Rocky Mountain National Park, Eisenhower Tunnel, and Leadville with wildcards for Summit County and Aspen
Bottom Line: Decent storm with good moisture. The risks: Warmer to the west will may limit snow ratios in some of the Ski areas and wind shifts make this forecast less confident than others. There are outside chances of 10-20 inches but it may not happen at your favorite resort? Ride late Monday or early Tuesday for the best odds of powder. Quality may be dense especially Monday. I may need to update this forecast again on Monday.
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