Summary: As one storm that departed Colorado on Wednesday another fast moving clipper with colder temps moves in for Thursday night. This could land 5-10 inches for the Ski Areas. The pattern looks unsettled next week for the Sierra.
Forecast: What a bust on the last storm with 20 inch storm totals forecasted for the Front Range stayed a bit further east and south. 10 inch totals were found at A-Basin (Tuesday-Wednesday) and skiers were getting after the goods. Did we think Winter Park would end up with a few inches. Absolutely not. What happened? The storm essentially provided heavy rain for the Front Range, slightly warmer temps and produced low snow ratios keeping amounts lower. The storm track followed the European solution and dropped south only clipping the Front Range mountains. Some areas outside Boulder did receive decent amounts above 8,000. Monarch to the south grabbed double digits. Aspen grabbed 7-10 inches with NW winds and stalled moisture on the western side of the State. We have seen this happen before (Aspen scores on a Front Range storm). Perhaps NW flow on the west side and N, NE flow on the eastern side prevents movement and simply keeps the bulk of moisture west of Eagle County (Not sure). The southern mountains did well with Monarch grabbing double digits (Resort is closed). While not surprised this storm essentially busted for big totals, most ski areas did receive some powder for Wednesday and some good turns.
Our Tuesday night forecast originally was below and some areas came within range while others especially WP were well outside the range.
- Arapahoe Basin: 7-12”
- Loveland: 9-13”
- Breckenridge: 3-6”
- Copper: 3-6”
- WP: 9-13”
Below: Are you in here? Skiers are getting after the east wall hike at A-Basin Wednesday. That line goes for a good distance. Feels good to see so many folks getting after it! Photo: Tom Lecount.
Reports were some crust on South or east facing, 6 inches overnight (4-5 on Tuesday), and very good snow on the east wall with some face shots. We really like to see all these folks hiking for powder.
Now that we are closing out the work week, another storm will bring moderate snow to Colorado on Thursday night. This storm is faster moving, but has colder temps than our previous one. Colder temps will enhance snow rations with several hours of 1-2 inch per hour snowfall Thursday evening. Most of the action will be over by 2-3 AM Friday with my best forecast at 4-8 inches for the Front Range eastern mountains, and 3-5 inches west of the Divide. The best odds of reaching the higher amount on the scale is likely going to be on the Divide itself (Loveland Pass, Loveland Ski area, A-Basin wildcard, Berthoud Pass wildcard). Bottom Line: Perfect timing with snow beginning after 5PM Thursday. Starts out warm hopefully putting a few inches of denser snow down before colder density snow moves in after 8PM. With the cold temps there may still be a sink through crust factor (Warm on Thursday). Hopefully some areas can reach the upper end of the forecast. Be ready to chase but don't be surprised if areas west of Georgetown score less. I am optimistic for 3-7 inches with some upside possible (5-9).
Below: Widely spaced lines with less consensus for how much snow falls at Loveland Pass for Friday morning. (This ensemble run shows anywhere from 7-12 inches. I usually subtract around 25% from these totals putting the forecast in the 5-10 inch range. Short term models are showing a bit less.
Below: Total moisture through Friday morning. .54 inches of moisture will likely ramp up to 5-8 inches of snow at the colder temps. Not a big storm, but could still bring some surprises to the Divide or just north of I-70 at Berthoud Pass or WP. Confidence is a bit higher for the Divide along I-70.
High pressure takes firm hold for the weekend (Warming) with our guess Denver locals bailing for brown pow single track, gravel, or heading to the western slope (I might head to Moab). Low pressure is noted for the Sierra early next week with a cold front.
Snow is likely to start falling in the Sierra Monday night or Tuesday with what appears to be a moderate storm. Snow levels could drop near Lake Level and certainly the higher passes. May might ring in with a return to a tease of winter. Models show a chance of 2 periods of snow for Colorado both on May 3rd (Powderchaser Steve- birthday) and another on May 5th. It's too far out to forecast with confidence,
Below: Low pressure noted for the Sierra early next week that could bring a return of a brief winter like period Monday night or Tuesday.
Below: Cold temps to bring in May that could spell for some snow on the passes or even near lake level early next week for the Sierra. (Map is 10K feet- -7C).
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