PSA#1 - Mainly for Northern Front
Range foothills 10/3/2013 PM
Good afternoon everyone,
While it has been clear for more than a week that "our weekly storm"
would hit us this Friday, the track of this low has remained
uncertain right until the end. It now looks to track just far
enough north to end up with a big north-south gradient with regards
to snowfall totals, but still with the potential for close to a foot
in some northern foothill locations. Precipitation should last only
24h or less, may start us rain all the way up to Peak-to-Peak
highway, but should quickly change to snow overnight, be heaviest in
the AM, and taper off by sunset. While snow amounts are still
fairly uncertain, the storm will definitely usher in the coldest
airmass of the season so far, giving even the lowest elevations a
freeze from Friday into Saturday, and staying below freezing during
the day on Friday in higher foothills from Boulder into Larimer
(1) Upper air low currently over western WY is expected to drop
southeastward towards the WY/CO border, then track eastward, and
exit our region by tomorrow evening; if this were a spring storm, a
track like this would be close enough to virtually guarantee a wet
outcome, but with the low tracking this far north (really about one
state too far to the north compared to a Four Corners low) at this
time of year (more stable air mass), it will be harder to wring out
its moisture south of its track in particular;
(2) Right now, low level upslope is in place, and while the air is
about 15F colder than yesterday, we are still sitting well above
freezing; nice to see that dewpoints are quite high as well, so at
least we don't have to wait for the upslope flow to bring in moister
air, 'this will do' (having received record-breaking amounts of
moisture in September may still have a lingering effect);
(3) Jet streak will work its way (counterclockwise) around the
upper low, and may end up far enough south to enhance precipitation
right on top of us, despite the lack of mid-level upslope from
Boulder County south;
(4) Things to look for:
- will the low-level upslope continue through the event, or will we
see a backing of surface winds towards the southwest (which would
have a drying effect)?
- will the change-over to snow at higher elevations kick in right
with the main precipitation event, or will we see a prolonged
rainfall first (last week's storm fell mostly as rain even above
8K)? I expect the transition some time around or shortly after
midnight, but if it happens earlier (later) you can expect to see
more (less) snow;
- will there be any significant wrap-around moisture as the low
lifts out to the northeast during the day and evening tomorrow?
This often happens with spring storms, but much less often with
Before I forget, the European model is the most bullish on this
event (about 20-32mm around here, or about one inch of moisture),
the Canadian model (GEM) follows with 0.5-1" (from ensemble runs),
the large-scale American GFS with 0.2-0.5", and the smaller-scale
NAM with 0.1-0.2". The GFS was more similar to the bullish ECMWF/GEM
as recently as yesterday afternoon, while the NAM has been stingy
for us all along.
Going along with the more bullish scenario, I expect to see 0.5-1"
northwards, highest in the foothills of Larimer County
(southeasterly flow tends to favor them anyway), with most of this
falling as snow above 8K, i.e., 6-12" is in the cards for these
higher foothills, while lower elevations may just end up with a
trace of snow sticking to roads around sunrise tomorrow when we
should see the heaviest showers and coldest air rushing in. Locales
east of the Front Range might see periods of ground-blizzard
conditions towards the WY border tomorrow, given that surface winds
might reach 30mph or so, mainly with northerly flow during the
wrap-around stage of this storm.
Tomorrow night, a hard freeze is in store for the higher foothills -
we should see 10sF up there, especially towards Saturday morning if
the winds die down a bit. IOW, roads that are still open higher up
in Boulder and Larimer County will be even more obnoxious to drive
than currently (yes, I am talking about Sunshine Canyon), from
Friday morning hrough Saturday morning (after which they should melt
out except in deep shade).
But enough kvetching about commuting from up high, this will be a
good storm for the north-central mountains (and ski resorts), and
just about the right time of year to help A-basin/Loveland talk
about their opening date race - the next storm is on track for next
Thursday, looking not too promising right now (moving to fast from
southwest to northeast), but we will address that next week (or not,
if not PSA-worthy).
Hope that foothill dwellers are ready for this, am not too concerned
about the Front Range cities (of course, cover your plants tomorrow
night if you are still having a garden after the deluge), although
the most extreme scenario could leave a couple of inches on the
ground, say, in Boulder or Fort Collins (in which case some foothill
reports could come in over a foot as well).
P.S.: I am not quite ready yet to 'think snow', maybe after this
PSA #1 of the 2012-13
season Wed Oct 25 4:27 pm
Good afternoon, everyone,
looks like our first significant snow event of the season is upon us,
coming in two waves: #1 from NOW through the wee hours of tomorrow,
and #2 from about this time tomorrow into the morning hours of Friday.
Individually, these two storms do not have a shot at reaching the magic
12" mark, but the combined total could reach that amount for the higher
foothills of Boulder County in particular.
Given current temperatures in the 40s in the plains and 30s in the foothills,
I would expect to see some continued rain showers in the plains to change
over to snow by sundown or shortly after, while snow should make the
evening commute a bit messy tonight for foothill dwellers. Any precipitation
after 8pm should be snow for everyone. Given forecast liquid amounts of
1/4-1/2" (maybe more in the Larimer County foothills) tonight, I would expect
to see 2-8" of snow before sunrise tomorrow, depending on elevation.
It will be quite cold tomorrow and Friday, definitely below freezing above 8K
even during the day, with lows in the 10s higher up and 20s in the plains
both nights. If it clears up early enough, higher elevations could dip into
the singles above 0F by Friday morning, while the plains could see 10sF
by Saturday morning, since they will get less wind by then, and assuming
at least a thin snow cover.
Before I forget, the 2nd event (tomorrow this time into Friday morning) appears
to favor regions more to the south, hence my hedge towards Boulder County
getting the biggest intersection of the two storms. But even Larimer County
should see 1-4" out of that one, with 3-6" more common further south.
Therefore, some of us could see about a foot or slightly more by Friday.
Off to a late PSA-start,
P.S.: I have not started any blogging just yet, stay tuned.
P.P.S.: I will be talking about the upcoming winter at Chatauqua on November 7th
PSA#6 - yes,
you read that right
May 6 2012
Good afternoon, y'all (with all my recent trips to Texas, something
is rubbing off)...
this will be short and sweet, a band of snow has set up in the higher
from the southwest corner of Boulder corner towards Lyons, snow is just
beginning to stick above 8K, and should continue well into tomorrow
I am expecting the precipitation shield to widen and lower in elevation
overnight, but the highest amounts (falling all as snow) should remain
in the higher foothills and mountains.
I won't bore you (and myself) with the details of this storm, but this
about the 5th one this spring (since March) that had initial great
(2"+ in several model runs a week ago), only to fade upon getting closer
to the 'delivery date'. However, the models have now settled on 0.5-0.8"
of moisture in the next 24h, and with the banding going on right now,
I would not be surprised if some lucky folks will eke out 1"+ of H2O.
This will translate into 6-12" higher up, while even Boulder might see
some white stuff falling out of the sky overnight, but it should not
at those lower elevations. Even the higher roads may not get so bad with
all this recent warm weather. But some early aspen (leaves) may take
quite a beating in this storm.
There is potential for a warmer follow-up storm later this week, let's
we can get another 0.5" or so of moisture to keep May from being yet
another DRY month.
If it clears out tomorrow night (Monday into Tuesday), I would not be
to see a freeze all the way to the plains, with low 20s common higher
If we should get lucky and remain snowy most of the day tomorrow, we
see a rare May near-freezing high temperature along Peak-to-Peak
Solstice, Season's Greetings... Wed 12/21/2011
snow is on its way yet again, and, like a broken record, it involves yet
surge from the north, an upper cutoff low that will drop south through
the Four Corners,
and an overall duration around 24h. Snow is already falling in central
northwestern Colorado, and should drop into the Front Range later this
are some discrepancies among models on how fast this will happen,
partially due to
lee effects off the Cheyenne Ridge that may keep us dry just a bit
longer than hoped
What could go wrong? Well, if it takes longer to overcome that lee
effect off the
Cheyenne Ridge, i.e., if the wind does not swing around to straight
until about midnight, we could miss out on a few hours of snow early
on. Towards the
end of the event (say, from late morning through evening rush hour), the
airmass could get cold enough to reduce the snow:moisture ratios from
fluffy to much
denser, especially in the higher foothills. It also could be dropping
too fast to the south
to maintain the upslope event for us. If it is still snowing hard
tomorrow, we will probably not have to worry about that one, especially
stay above 10F (this is not really an issue for the lower elevations).
Expected amounts: 6-10" in Front Range cities (Boulder and Denver are
Fort Collins), with (south-)western sections/suburbs looking at the
potential for a foot
or more, assuming 0.5-0.7" of moisture which most models produce for
If it does not start snowing until midnight and/or peters out in the
morning, this could
be reduced to 4-6".
Higher foothills with good (north-)eastern exposure could see 12-18" if
together as currently expected, or half that in the 'worst case
scenario'. Given the fact
that there have been already four events of this caliber this season, it
really would not be
too extraordinary to see yet another footer. For the season so far, and
in the last two
decades, only 1997 and 2006 were on a significantly faster pace, while
1993 and 2009
were fairly close. Of these five, 2011 is the only season with such a
snow season that was under La Niña conditions, so, as dry as it has been
lately west of
the divide, we have been 'lucky'.
Eldora and ski resorts right on the divide (Loveland, Winter Park?)
should do reasonably
well, too (6-12"), while it will be much spottier further west. As the
low is digging south,
it will probably create a good dump on east-facing slopes of the San
Juans and, especially
Sangre de Cristos.
I still expect much wetter weather to return to the West slope in
January, but the next
week or two still look anemic for now.
Before I forget, tomorrow night should see subzero lows pretty much
the Front Range, given clear skies and fresh snow on the ground. Then
the slow crawl back
up to 'normal' (above-freezing) highs, not really helped by any sizable
Chinook, at least
for the time being. By Sunday, higher elevations (ski slopes) will be
downright balmy, while
the interior valleys will trap enough cold air to maintain that wintery
P.S.: Nothing like being on travel a lot to bring on one of the wetter
spells on record for late
November/early December, sorry if you were taken by surprise during that
period. If you are
wondering if something is afoot, I would suggest to check the weather
service home page
), it will always list the latest updated weather forecasts, including
winter storm watches and warnings. If you click anywhere on the map at
this site, it will give
you the local forecast for the next seven days
Tue 11/1/2011 3:56 PM
Good afternoon everyone,
I guess I managed to scare a few people yesterday by leaving out the
exact dates of this storm (although I did mention that it would have
been appropriate weather for Halloween, if we had been in a leap year).
The main reason I am writing this update is that the storm looks a bit
more potent today than yesterday, with 3/4-1" of moisture now looking
like the most likely outcome from Denver north to Fort Collins and
points west, based on higher-resolution models.
It also looks more like a cutoff low at lower-to-mid levels for at least
a few hours overnight which should help really bring in some deep
upslope flow, say, around midnight to pre-sunrise.
So, I am increasing the snowfall amounts to 6" (further away from the
foothills) to 12" (close in, say, Boulder west of Broadway) to 12-18"
foothills, despite lower precipitation totals than the last storm, but
assuming fluffier snow:moisture ratios. All of this should fall within
12h, say, around 8pm to 8am tomorrow, thus giving us snowfall rates of
1-3"/h at the height of the storm overnight.
There may be enough wind (and snow) to bring down some branches that did
not fall off from the last storm, leading to some more power failures in
lower elevations. Since this storm starts out colder, and looks colder
overnight, I would expect less rain at the beginning of the storm at
lower elevations, and a nasty morning rush-hour on Wednesday, November
2nd (for those who are still confused about the timing of this).
The Friday night storm looks still to be more of a mountain snow event
than east of the divide (except for a few spill-over showers in the
There is more in the pipeline for next week, so stay tuned!
Happy Snowy November!
PSA#3 - boo Mon 10/31/2011
If it's Monday, a snowstorm must be on its way - here we go again!
Another storm is taking aim at Colorado's Front Range, trying for an
instant replay of last week's storm, or so it seems. We all know that
the sequel is often inferior to the original, so let's see what is
different this time around:
1. No complicated double-jet streak structure to complicate (and locally
2. A faster moving storm overall, should be done by late morning;
3. BUT: colder air to work with, so a better chance for getting fluffier
snow halfway through the event rather than just at the very tail end
(last week's last inch was the only one fluffy for me).
So, similar to last week, I expect to see rain changing to snow after
sunset (yes, it started a bit earlier last week) in the plains, with
snow commencing right away above 8K, and coming in from north to south.
Peak intensity of this storm should be overnight, with a bit more wind
(and upslope flow) to work with. By midnight, everybody should see snow,
heavy at times, but also fluffier. Drifting might become a problem on
the eastern plains (this one will have an easier time sticking to the
roads than the last one). The increased wind speed might be a blessing
in disguise for the trees and powerlines, since not as much snow should
accumulate on exposed branches and lines. Temperatures will drop below
10F in the foothills and 20F in the plains by sunrise.
Too bad this was not a leap year, then tomorrow would be the 31st of
October, and we would have our appropriate Halloween weather...
Snowfall totals: 4-8" in the Front Range cities, and 6-12" higher up.
So, this should end up smaller than the last one, but it could end up
lasting longer, since the upcoming week will remain mostly cool and
Caveat: this could end up being more of an eastern plains storm, given
that it moves along so fast. In that case (the NAM is hinting at that
scenario), we would end up with half the moisture/snow indicated above.
I will update this PSA by tomorrow afternoon, if I see the drier
scenario becoming the likely one (or if it the storm slows down to give
us a wetter scenario).
The next storm in the pipeline should come in from the southwest about
three days later, but it looks more like a dry (wind) event for us,
while the mountains could do well with that one, especially the San
Juans, Elk and Park ranges. If this scenario changes towards something
more interesting for us, I will have to write PSA#4...
Meanwhile, think snow, we have to milk these active stormtrack
situations for all they are worth! At least we are done with October -
the La Niña handicap is much weaker in November than in October...
P.S.: The last storm did quite a number on lower elevation trees,
especially from North Boulder into Larimer County where power was out
for up to three days. There was a heavy snowband that kept reforming
from northern Boulder County into Larimer County and created the
snowfall map given at:
In case you are wondering, "Ward 4.6 NE" and "3 W Jamestown" both refer
to my measurements, the former one is the final correct one, referring
to my CoCoRAHS reports. Clearly a decent snowstorm by any standard, just
not quite the same caliber as the two big El Niño snowstorms of 1997 and
PSA#2 - but... Mon 10/24/2011 5:04 PM
Good afternoon everyone,
unless you live in a cave you must have heard about the incoming storm
that some forecasters have been talking about for close to a week. While
this storm has indeed been predicted for quite a while, the expected
have fluctuated wildly, especially if one includes information from non-U.S.
forecast models (guilty as charged!).
Ahead of the storm, Denver managed to hit 80F today, and establish a new
daily record-high for October 24th. The Boulder records for Wednesday
are 19 and 32F for the coldest low and high on October 26th, along with
of snow, while the record low for Thursday is only 21F. Since Boulder
from 6pm to 6pm MDT, the record-high for Wednesday will probably not be
broken, even though day-time high temperatures may not reach freezing,
but the record-low on Thursday should be 'easy' to break. So, a pretty
impressive temperature drop is coming our way, time to wrap up the
and get those snow tires before it is too late (day-time tomorrow will
be warm(ish), with no real precipitation until after nightfall).
I will probably update this tomorrow, but I am not quite as excited
one as about some others in the past (see P.S. for more on October-ENSO
statistics). For one thing, it does not look like this one will really
cutoff low, and the highest precipitation rates will be a function of
jet stream interaction (one polar jet streak and one subtropical jet
are supposed to line up just right over our state to reinforce each
I also do not like the most recent trend of the GFS to shift the peak
to our south. Temperatures should get cold enough to allow for snow in
by about midnight, a few hours earlier in the foothills.
Quick bottomline: 3-6" in the plains looks fairly certain by late
Wednesday, twice that in the foothills. Lucky folks under heavier banded
precipitation could see even twice that, but I see that more south of
to PSA #1 that verified best near Pikes Peak...
At our house, there have been six October snow storms (allowing
for up to two day-duration) since 1990 that have been truly PSA-worthy
(one foot or more), in 1993 (exactly 1 ft), 1997 (2nd biggest on record
any storm, with over 4.5 ft), 2002 (over 1ft), 2005 (ditto), 2006 (over
and 2009 (almost 3 ft). Guess what, only one of them (2005) qualifies to
have happened under La Niña-like conditions, all others had mild (1993)
to strong (1997) El Niño conditions. IOW, the deck is stacked against
In Boulder's October record since 1949, there have been exactly two
totals of 6" or more during La Niña conditions: 9.2" in 1971 (40 years
and 10.7" in 1961 - that's it! By comparison, here are the two day
the six storms listed above: 10.5" (93), 29.8" (97), 12.5" (02), Trace
(out of 2.11"
of rain in '05), 4.1" (06), and 23.0" (09). You get the picture, it is a
lot easier to
get a big October snow storm under El Niño than La Niña conditions - not
impossible, mind you, but a lot less likely!
Updated PSA#2 Tue 10/25/2011 4:11 PM
Good afternoon everyone,
well, so much for La Niña tilting the odds against snow in October - it
looks like we are on for quite a storm: the starting shot for this one
has already been fired in the higher foothills of Boulder County (about
two hours early, if you ask me), moisture appears to be plentiful (after
some very low humidities yesterday, this was not guaranteed), and
temperatures have already dropped to near freezing just upstream in
Cheyenne. To top it all off, Grand Junction is now reporting a
thunderstorm in the vicinity (thunder also near Telluride), so we are
dealing with a potent situation.
The two jet streaks I mentioned yesterday are lining up correctly (think
of two airplanes flying in the same direction, but offset by about the
length of a plane sideways and back) to give us double-enhanced lift
right over our neck of the woods.
Only problems remaining: how long will take it to cool off the plains to
allow for snow, and how long will it last to give us the most La Niña
snow in October since 1906 (Denver got almost two feet in that one)?
Good questions: based on most models, temperatures should cool off
enough for steady snow/frost in much of the Front Range, but it could
change over earlier in heavier showers which appear to be plentiful to
our north and west (everything is sagging south). So, it might try to
change over a few hours earlier. The same models try to keep the storm
going for much of tomorrow. In my experience, if an overnight storm does
not taper off by late morning, it could very well last all day and into
the evening, since we often get a secondary cold surge to come during
the afternoon to keep the upslope going. This is not a likely scenario,
nor would it add more than a few inches, but it would have a bearing on
the evening rush hour...
So, in a nutshell, here is my forecast for the (1) foothills and (2)
(1) Temperatures will drop close to freezing above 8K soon, especially
in heavier snow showers, not to get above 32F for at least 36h, if not
While the ground is still quite warm from the last few days, the snow
will start accumulating soon on roadways, especially dirt roads.
Intensity will fluctuate, but could become quite heavy at times,
possibly exceeding 2"/h in the heaviest bands. Starting out quite dense
(10:1 or so), it could turn to powder snow (15-20:1) by tomorrow morning
to stretch the total precipitation amount into even higher snowfall
totals by the time this all ends.
I anticipate everyone to get at least 1" of moisture, translating into
about a foot of snow for the lowest foothill elevations from Jefferson
County northward into Wyoming. It looks like the most favored locations
will get 1.5-2"
or 20-30" of snow. This would still be less than just two years ago
(never mind 1997), but quite respectable, and possibly enough to last
into November near Peak-to-Peak. Temperatures could tumble down close to
0F, if it does not get too windy tomorrow evening.
(2) Front Range cities will see a change-over to snow from north to
south this evening (more or less), with enough rain early on to make it
hard for the snow to stick before midnight. So, while the liquid amounts
should also top 1" for most of the lower elevations, the measured
snowfall totals could vary highly, depending on frequency and
measurement surface. Nevertheless, 6-12" sounds like a safe bet at this
point, with more a foot not out of the question. This could cause tree
(branch) damage on deciduous trees and power outages, in addition to a
messy rush hour tomorrow morning. IF it changes over to snow well before
midnight, and keeps going at 1-2"/h overnight, school closures are not
out of the question, although CU will probably be fairly hardnosed about
staying open. As mentioned yesterday, I do expect a hard freeze in the
10sF tomorrow night.
One last 'bookmark', the European model shows a very active storm track
from the northwest (yes, an early winter La Niña pattern) that should be
productive for the northern mountains, and could give us another dose of
winter about 7-8 days from now, just past Halloween...
Enjoy the snow (if you can), and keep those snowfall reports coming -
First PSA of 2011-12
Fri 10/7/2011 5:01 PM
Good afternoon everyone,
after yet another snow-less September, October is apparently trying to
make up for lost ground, possibly gracing the higher foothills with a
foot of snow, while threatening the lower elevations with on-and off
rain/snow through most of Saturday.
Yesterday's storm system that has already raced north into south-central
Canada 'unclogged' a fairly stagnant patter over the Western U.S.,
dropping three feet of snow on Wolf Creek Pass (!), thus enabling them
to beat Loveland and A-Basin for the opening date, using all natural
snow for a change.
Storm #2 is on its heels, presently carving out
a nice Four-Corner's low, and on track to hit us with a good amount of
moisture through much of the day tomorrow. This is about as far the
models agree. The faster (and drier) models then lift this storm out
just to our east, giving us some drying and downsloping winds by
tomorrow evening, while the slower (and juicier) ones (like the Canadian
and European models) take about 12 hours longer to get us out of the
precipitation shield. The difference is about a factor three in the
amount of moisture we get (0.5+" vs. 1.5-2"). At 8K and above, over 90%
of this should fall as snow, while the plains may see most of it fall as
cold rain, with a few flurries thrown in. Alright, the worst/best case
scenario (depending on your preferences) for the plains is some heavy
wet snow in the morning to do a number on deciduous trees and (possibly)
powerlines, but I don't think it will accumulate on the roads. More on
snowfall amounts below.
Factors to consider: this one brings its own
cold air with it from the Pacific rather than Canada, which means that
once it lifts out, the air will be free to warm up again (as fast as it
can with all this moisture/snow in/on the ground). SO, if you live low
enough to make it through this without a freeze (or only a light freeze)
tomorrow night, your garden should be o.k.
next week. It has been very dry in the wake of
storm #1, so this will probably delay the onset of precipitation for a
few hours, but it will also allow for additional cooling as the
snowflakes fall into the sub-cloud air. SO, if it snows heavy enough
tomorrow morning, it might have less problems to stay in the form of
snow all the way down to Boulder than the weather service is allowing
for right now.
Bottomline: While some models start the
precipitation right around midnight, I think it will hold back until
later tonight. We all might very well wake up to snow falling from the
sky, however, with winter driving conditions above 7K or so. Even if we
only realize 0.5" of H2O, this should be good for close to half a foot
of snow in the higher foothills, and that much rain in the plains as
well (hard to discern a clear-cut east-west pattern with this storm,
since the 'upslope' flow appears to come in from the north to northeast,
before switching to the north-northwest in PM in the drier scenario).
If it is still snowing hard by early afternoon, we might settle down to
the wetter scenario, with sloppy snow in the lower elevations, but
continued moderate+ snow higher up (we could see 12h of 1"/h out of
this). So, the upper end totals could be 12-18" above 8K in Boulder and
Larimer County, and 3-6" of a wet mess right against the foothills
(measured on lawn tables or decks). Not really
much more above treeline than near Peak-to-Peak
highway, but it will not melt as readily higher up as we get into Sunday
Think snow, a 2nd year La Niña winter tends to
be drier in Colorado, especially in October, so this could be the last
one for a while -
Wed 5/18/2011 4:11 PM
Good afternoon, y'all -
Wow, this May is on track to become the
snowiest since 1995 for the higher foothills - snow is already occurring
higher up, but should become sustained and heavy for several hours this
evening/early night above 7-8K elevation. Don't have time to go into
details, but we have already seen much beneficial moisture today that
should get more organized into a brief deep upslope event this evening.
Some models are spitting out up to 2" of moisture this evening, so there
could be flooding and mudslides in recent burn areas of Boulder and
Larimer County in particular. Heaviest snowfall rates could exceed 2"/h
before midnight above 8K. Totals could reach up to one foot between
about 8.5-9K, and more higher up. Luckily our aspen have taken their
sweet time to leaf out, so I don't expect too much tree damage from this
(a 17" heavy snow event on the 17th of May '95 wreaked havoc on our
aspen, but they had already started to leaf out that year).
The storm system will loiter just to our north into Saturday, dumping
feet of snow on the higher elevations of Wyoming, as well as swinging
around into our northwestern mountains that are already showing
(near-)record snowpack - this may add another 1-2" of meltwater to that.
While snow may mix into the heaviest precipitation bands down to the
lower canyons this evening, I don't expect to see a freeze in the plains
out of this.
Believe it or not, another storm is possible
about a week from now.
P.S.: Last week's storm verified nicely with a
foot or more in many of the higher foothills.
Nice moisture, too, with 1-2" from Boulder westward, and up to 2.5" H2O
to our east.
Taking a serious bite out of our moisture deficit the way things are
PSA#4 - last call of the
Tue 5/10/2011 5:16 PM
Good afternoon everyone,
four weeks after the last measurable snow in
Boulder, we are looking at a very good chance for a repeat performance
of getting 1"+ of moisture around here.
Tough call whether any of this will be in the
form of measurable snow in the plains, but the foothills above about 7K
should get mostly snow out of this. And, yes, I believe there is the
potential for more than a foot of snow higher up!
After the first 'nice' weekend since early
April, with near-record highs in the plains (around 85F), it is hard to
believe that the "s...-word" is in the forecast, but this is the Front
Range, and we have actually had quite a few such events right around the
10th or 11th of May in the last decade, dropping some measurable snow in
the plains, and around a foot in the higher foothills just last year!
A complicated weather pattern is unfolding as I
write this, with a first low passing through last night, just giving us
wind and a cool-down, but dropping more than 1" of rain Montana, and
helping to set up the 'trick-shot' scenario for the next few days.
A second low got separated from the first one,
and is tracking through northern Arizona into Colorado by tomorrow
morning, actually getting about as close to the Four Corners as any low
I have seen this winter which will set us up for nice deep upslope for
much of tomorrow, and an extended period of 'back-wash' moisture on
Thursday (especially if you believe the most recent model runs).
There are two main factors that can derail this
storm for us, first of all we have not really moistened up behind this
storm, running around 12% humidity in Boulder right now (which is better
than yesterday) and low 20% RH in the foothills.
So, we will 'lose' some of the upslope
precipitation as 'virga' tonight to moisten up the lower atmosphere from
above. Secondly, while it is an encouraging trend that the models are
slowing down the progression of this storm, this also means that it will
probably come in a tad warmer than expected earlier. So, the snowline
may end up closer to 8K than 7K, especially if much of this falls during
the day-time tomorrow. If heavier bands of snow set up overhead, even
Front Range Cities like Fort Collins and Boulder could see a few quick
inches, especially tomorrow morning and evening.
On the other hand, there is often the potential
that the upper low 'kicks out' too fast, but as just stated, the trend
in most model runs has been to slow this one down, to the point that it
might linger well into Thursday, reducing the chances of this one ending
too soon, or even 'skipping over us'.
Bottomline: clouds should thicken this evening
and precipitation should commence overnight, starting out as snow above
8K right around midnight. If everything goes according to plan (best
case scenario: early afternoon NAM model that gives us 2" of moisture),
it should precipitate all day tomorrow and into mid-day on Thursday,
with a chance for a lull tomorrow afternoon if the low tracks close to
should see 6-12" of fairly dense snow, with
potential for twice as much in that NAM scenario, while the plains have
a good shot at 0.5-1" of moisture (a few inches of slush?), again,
potentially even more moisture, when all is said and done by Thursday
The weather service has been very reluctant to
call for more than a few inches of snow in the foothills until this
afternoon's update - always better if they don't get too excited...
Interesting coda to this: the low that passed
through last night and is currently lifting out from North Dakota into
Manitoba may actually dumb-bell around our storm later this week and
bring prolonged cloudiness and cool temperatures to the Front Range for
our weekend, lest you might get used to 'nice' weekends in May...
Think precipitation, we still need the
PSA# 3, but three days
Fri 3/4/2011 6:24 PM
Good evening everyone,
after a remarkable first decade of days in
February, here we are in March ("in like a lamb"), with still only TWO
full-fledged PSA's on record. Similar to a couple of earlier occasions,
an interesting storm is shaping up for early in the week, forcing my
hand in calling for a tentative PSA #3 between Sunday evening and
Tuesday (March 6-8). The scenario may 'sound like a broken record'
(still need to find a replacement for that analog-analogy), but the
ingredients are indeed the same as previously:
an upper disturbance is coming in from the
Pacific, cold air is at the ready to our north (they are having quite
the cold winter up in Western Canada, should have had the Olympics
during a La Niña winter), and we will try and mix the two ingredients by
Monday to give us (a) enough cold air to generate snow rather than rain
in the plains, (b) deep enough upslope, maybe even a cutoff low to our
south and west rather than our east, and (c) enough duration (say, at
least 12h of decent upslope) to give us the biggest snowstorm of the
season so far.
This far out, lots can go wrong, but I believe
the odds are at least 50/50 for a PSA-worthy storm, focusing in on
Monday evening when the 'eggbeater'
(technical)term for surface high pressure to our
north to generate low-level upslope (northeasterlies) and a cutoff-low
to our southwest at the higher levels to generate deep upslope (maybe
more from the southeast)) could be in full swing. The weather service
is also going for 50/50, but they just talk about precipitation in
general, not PSA-worthy amounts just yet.
Compared to earlier this winter, a couple of
seasonal changes to look for:
1. With rising sun angles this time of year, it
is easier to (vertically) destabilize
air during the day-time, giving us higher
potential for high precipitation rates with 'thunder-snow' - not a firm
prediction, but a much likelier event than, say, one month ago; so that
is a 'plus', if you like snow; this is also one reason why our Marches
typically give us twice or more the amount of moisture than an average
2. Unfortunately, March tends to be drier than
average with La Niña around, and, despite what you might hear elsewhere,
it is definitely still 'around'. Oh well, that is a 'minus', but
at least the relationship is not 1:1 (the last big La Niña in 2008 still
dropped 30" in March at our house, below average, but nothing to sneeze
at)Compared to El Niño, the odds of this storm slowing down and sticking
around for a few days is next to nil, sorry to say.
There is potential for some early-bird snow
higher up in the afternoon and evening on Sunday (mixed in the plains,
if any). I would count that towards the storm-total. In any case, here
is my 'wet' scenario that would give many of us the PSA-worthy foot
(again, I peg this at 50%): Higher foothills snow showers on Sunday
evening ahead of the main storm, could drop a quick inch or three above
about 7K, more potential for mixed precipitation (or melting snow) below
that; deepening upslope by Monday afternoon, resulting in snow all the
way down to the plains by rush-hour (will have trouble sticking on the
roads initially), could exceed 1"/h at times that evening, dropping into
the 10sF higher up and 20s in the plains; lingering snow Tuesday
morning, allow for 'extra time' in your morning commute; snow totals
this far out pretty iffy, but 6-12" are quite likely everywhere, with
higher amounts higher up, due to both lower temperatures and higher
amounts of moisture; would not be surprised if some of the usual
suspects hit 18" (psst, I did not write that). The dry scenario would
drop the storm too far to the south (or keep it too far to the north,
believe it or not both of these alternatives are possible), and drop,
say, half of the above amounts, but we should get at least some snow.
Will try and update on Monday morning,
P.S.: Amuse yourself (if you can wade through
some pages of National Weather Service output), and look at:
The zone forecast for the plains cities
(Boulder/Denver = Zone 39&40) talks about highs near 40F on Monday, with
a 50% chance of rain or snow. The zone forecast for the northern
foothills (6K-9K in Boulder and Larimer County = Zone 35) gives exactly
the same probabilities for rain or snow (50%), with a high between 30
The zone forecast for the mountains above 9K to
the west (Zones 33&34) goes for "likely" snow (60%), with temperatures
on Monday between 29 and 39F.
I did not know that a 1F temperature shift
(30-40F vs. 29-30F) is enough to remove the word "rain"
from the forecast. As far as probabilities are
concerned, 50% for the plains this far out is fairly 'gutsy', while 60%
for the mountains strikes me as fairly 'timid', my 2c.
Less snow, more cold
(tentative PSA#3 part2) Mon, Jan 31, 2011 at 10:25AM
Good morning, everyone,
some updates to the unfolding cold snap:
1. Freezing drizzle this morning was a consequence of some shallow
cold air 'sneaking in' early, and some seeding from above ahead of
the main front. It should be done for this event. Hard to forecast,
especially three days out.
2. This arctic airmass is strengthening (cooling) as it is moving
south from Canada. There were lows in the -30sF in Alberta
this morning (Havre, MT, hit -31F), right upstream from us.
I expect our temperatures to remain steady at best, but mostly
continue their drop to hit below 0F shortly in the higher foothills,
and by later this evening in the plains. Looking at Boulder's daily
records, both highs and lows in the next two days have a chance
of beating these (especially for the low tomorrow night). I fully
expect to see subzero highs everywhere tomorrow as the coldest
air will sit right over us. How low can it get? Depends on how
much clearing we will get before the winds kick up again as the
arctic 'blob' slides to the south of us. Boulder should get down
to -15F (tied record low for the 1st), while the foothills (and
will probably see -20sF. Back in 1989, Boulder got down to -24F
on the 5th, and the higher foothills dropped into the -35/-45F
range. I don't think we will see lows that low, but it should be
the coldest February temperatures since then, maybe hitting -30F in
some 'favored' locales (Nederland, for instance).
3. While the temperature forecast is more or less in line with the
weather service forecast, I am more pessimistic about snowfall totals,
anticipating 2-6" tops, with most places getting less than 4". <The
weather service goes for 4-9" in Boulder and 6-11" in the foothills
by tomorrow afternoon>
Therefore, I won't call this PSA#3 after all, and reserve that
for the next PSA-worthy storm, possibly as soon as next week.
Winter is definitely not done with us yet, hope your water pipes are
well insulated, this will beat most cold snaps we have seen since
December 1990, with higher foothills possibly staying below 0F for
about 60h -
Let's hope I am underestimating the snowfall totals, too -
Fri 1/28/2011 8:52 PM
Good evening everyone,
thought I would indulge in a medium-range
forecast here since the onset of the next storm will be on Monday (may
or may not be able to update then). Basic setup is classic for
mid-winter cold&snowy spell: arctic air from Canada is on its way from
the north, with some energy diving actually west of the divide into the
Great Basin early next week. Our neck of the woods will see arctic
slosh all the way to the divide by Monday evening. Latest model
guidance (NAM, this evening) shows the coldest air of the season banked
against the foothills by Tuesday morning (well below 0F, even in the
plains). Of course, this being 3-4 days out, nothing is guaranteed, but
the 1st of February has a history of witnessing such arctic airmasses,
for instance back in 1985 when our state record was set in Maybell (west
of Steamboat) with -61F (no, I don't expect a new record). If the NAM is
correct, the cold air will come in so fast that we won't see a long
period of precipitation, but rather just plain bitter cold temperatures,
with maybe 1-3" as the cold air comes in. The more interesting scenario
would slow the arctic a bit down to give us some 12-24h of light to
moderate snow that could result in 4-8" of snow up and down the Front
Range from about Monday afternoon overnight into Tuesday. (and yes, it
could be more than 8" for some lucky folks, such as Boulder, yet
Stay tuned, I will try to update this on Monday
(or yank the "3" if the drier scenario looks more likely) -
P.S.: 1. Last PSA verified better in Boulder
than higher up, but it was a snowier storm for many of us.
2. The overall pattern should remain 'fertile'
after early next week, leading to one or two more cold surges in the
week after that, with potential for PSA-worthy amounts.
PSA#2: La Niña mid-winter
Fri 1/7/2011 4:43 PM
Good evening everyone,
looks like a replay of our last storm is shaping
up for Sunday into Monday, with a similar temperature drop, and similar
amounts of snow. This far out, my forecast is (even) less certain than
usual, even though the overall precipitation amounts are quite similar
in different models. However, the timing of the onset is amazingly
different in between the NAM and GFS (U.S. models), starting the snow
either before sunrise on Sunday, or holding back until sunset. Since
easterly upslope should be in place by Sunday morning, I am siding with
the GFS, which would give us a longer period of snow altogether, also
starting at comparatively higher temperatures (don't worry, this one
should be all snow just like the last one even in the lowest
elevations). Similar to PSA#1, the snow should continue into the night,
possibly even Monday morning, whilst temperatures should drop to below
0F in the higher foothills, and below 10F in the plains. The other main
uncertainty about this storm is how long the arctic air will linger in
its wake, or, to be more precise, how far east the cold air will erode
during the workweek. Coldest night in the foothills should be Monday
night (flirting with -10F yet again), while the plains might break 0F
both Monday and Tuesday night.
Total amounts should be similar to last time in
the lower elevations (4-8"), while I believe that the foothills will do
better, IFF the early onset scenario verifies, since this would extend
the stretch with favorable temperatures for dendrites (yes, the dreaded
change-over to arctic needle snow is still on track for higher
elevations by Monday morning). SO, I am going to stick my neck out and
go for 6-12", say, between 6-9K elevation.With decent arctic air pooled
to our north for what looks like the next 10 days or so, I would not be
surprised to see another PSA-worthy storm on the horizon by next
weekend, and, yes, as I wrote last time, we are currently in that
mid-winter stretch where La Niña favors snow even in the Front Range.
Think snow, and get your cars washed by
P.S.: Postmortem #1: Boulder got nailed with
more than 8" of fluff, while the foothills ended up with 3-6" in Boulder
and Larimer County. Temperatures dropped to near 0F in Boulder, and
below that pretty much everywhere else. In fact, combined with winds
gusting to 40mph or higher, New Year's evening's temperatures from -5 to
-10F in my neck of the woods reminded me of a Wisconsin winter day.
University of Colorado-
CIRES Climate Diagnostics Center NOAA-ESRL
Physical Science Division R/PSD1
Phone/Fax/e-mail: (303) 497-6340 / -6449 /
First PSA of 2010-2011
season Wed Dec 29 2010
Good evening everyone,
the weather service just upgraded their winter storm watch to a winter
storm warning, despite only predicting 5-10" for the Front Range, no
doubt partially due to the lack of snow so far this season. In fact, if
like records, the current seasonal total of 3.3" in Boulder would have
on track for the lowest snowfall total through December, since the old
record is 5.0" (back in 1910), but it appears that we should pass that
benchmark by this tomorrow...
A storm is poised to hit our state over the next 24-36h that would have
all the ingredients of being just as big as the recent East Coast storm,
IF it would only slow down a bit. It looks like we will briefly see a
Corners low, deep upslope all the way to the Continental Divide, and
brutally cold air invading our state, but the window of opportunity for
decent snows around here will close just about as fast as it opens
tomorrow. Snow flurries will tease foothill dwellers probably even
sunrise tomorrow, but the main upslope surge and more serious snowfall
rates may not kick until after noon tomorrow. Since temperatures will
drop dramatically from noon until midnight tomorrow (hitting subzero
readings higher up by then), whichever amounts of snow will fall should
stick everywhere, not just 'grassy areas'. SO, while we may only see
a few inches by this time tomorrow, driving should be a lot more
in the lower elevations than anything experienced so far this season.
While I don't expect to see more than, say, 3-6" (4-8") in the plains
by late evening tomorrow, what may drive the total amount up by Friday
morning is that there may be a period of fluffy powder snow accumulation
overnight, as arctic air keeps pushing up at the Front Range. Higher
will probably transition to dense arctic needles that don't add up to
0.1" per hour. By Friday morning, someone in the lower foothills may
well end up with a foot of mostly fluff (0.5", give or take a 1/10", of
while higher foothills may not get more than places like Boulder and
(say, 6-10"). Temperatures will reach the lowest values of this season
either tomorrow night or New Year's night, below 0F pretty much
with -10F quite possible in the usual cold spots (Longmont, Nederland,
It will take at least a week if not longer before we will see
temperatures as warm
as today, so this will be a very timely reminder of what season we are
Happy New Year, and THINK SNOW, if only to curb the fire danger in the
that is still crazily high,
P.S.: As best as I can remember, this is my latest PSA#1 of the season
ever (oh, back to 1992, or so), a sign of the times. I need to track
what my lowest count for any season was, since we may have a shot
at that one, too.
P.P.S.: This should be a good snowmaker everywhere west of the Front
as well, if you are planning on skiing, just allow for very wintery
(-20F at night should be an easy target by New Year's eve in pretty much
ski resorts, with highs in the single digits both New Year's eve&day).
P.P.P.S.: January is typically the best month for enhanced snow chances
statewide under La Niña conditions, so I fully expect to write a PSA or
the next five weeks, especially since I will be traveling again...
PSA#10 - at least for the
Mon 5/10/2010 4:12 PM
Good evening everyone,
looks like we will get yet another snowstorm to
hit us from Tuesday into Wednesday, with enough cold air even for this
late in the season to see rain changing to snow even in the plains
overnight. There were a few forecast runs over the weekend that showed
liquid totals in excess of 3", while today's runs have backed off
somewhat, with a 50/50 chance of still getting at least an inch of
moisture, while some of the high-resolution models still give the
foothills a shot at 2"+ of moisture. Don't have time for details here,
but tonight's model update will be critical, since the storm is just now
coming onshore, so that we will have a better idea about the exact track
of this storm by tomorrow morning.
I won't be able to update this until early
afternoon tomorrow, but here are the two most extreme scenarios:
1) Low-end, majority-of-large-scale models
track this storm a bit too far north, giving us less moisture (0.5-1.3")
and/or higher temperatures (the latest GFS is still fairly dry but
colder again), which would give the plains just a few inches of snow at
best, and the higher foothills (especially of Boulder and LARIMER
County) somewhere between 8-16" of snow by Wednesday afternoon;
2) High-end, minority of models, but consistent
with El-Niño-typical spring-behavior, including several storms so far
this spring would dig this storm a little further south before lifting
out, giving us some 12h of heavy precipitation (2"+/h of snow possible
all the way down to the lowest foothills, but probably not in town) that
could drop 20-30" (2-3" H2O) on a few lucky spots - the highest May
snowstorm totals since at least 1995, if not 1983. But, as the weather
service has just announced, 4-8" is a real possibility in Boulder and
Fort Collins as well, which would lead to some serious tree damage (more
than 1" water content) even down here, although the best chance for that
is in the lower foothills were trees have just leafed out.
Stay tuned, this one bears watching, and, yes,
there is a real risk of damaging frost in the wake of this for much of
the week (which should remain 'unsettled' - showery and cool thru at
least Friday, if not Saturday).
Thu 4/22/2010 5:00 PM
Good evening everyone,
Interesting storm on its way, lots of moisture in the air, and the
weather service as hoisted a winter storm watch for the foothills. Was
in a meeting all week, but this one does remind me of April '99, and
last night's widespread rain event has set the stage for a good amount
of moisture at the ready. It being late April, the climatological odds
for snow in the plains have dropped off considerably, and this storm is
not particularly cold. On the other hand, with some of the
precipitation rates observed last night, we managed to change over to
snow near 8.5K both last night and this morning, well ahead of schedule.
Since I only have a few minutes to put this up,
I will be uncharacteristically brief: I expect to see another 1.5-3" of
rain by Saturday morning in the plains, with the potential for brief
change-overs to snow in the heaviest showers, and towards the end of the
storm as colder air gets entrained from the north and west tomorrow
night. The higher foothills will probably see mostly snow out of this
from here on out, but with temperatures near or above freezing, it will
have a hard time sticking for the next 24h. Nevertheless, I expect to
see 6-12" of wet snow by this time tomorrow, to be followed by 'better
snow' in the subsequent 12-18h (Saturday morning), so some higher
foothill folks could see a total around two feet of snow by then. I
will update this tomorrow, if this forecast becomes too
pessimistic/optimistic by then.
Think snow, we had such a productive season so
far, we can't just end it with a whimper!
P.S.: A clipper-like disturbance will be
dropping in from the north around Monday for smaller amounts that could
make it down to the plains, and a second big storm might drop in towards
the end of next week, again, reminiscent of April
we got three big storms in a just over two
PSA #9 - yes, we can have
two PSA-storms within five days!
Mon 3/22/2010 10:28 PM
Good evening, y'all,
I was holding out until the last possible
moment, but I now have to follow the lead of the weather service and
issue yet another PSA, after hinting at it already in my last PSA. The
track of the incoming storm is a bit more from the west this time, the
involved airmasses will be not as chilly as last time (no subzero lows
in the offing), and there is a bit more uncertainty still left in the
The surface wind has shifted to the north(north-east)
in Boulder just in the last hour, and we are starting to recover from
another mid-day 10% humidity, currently at 34% in Boulder, so still a
long way to go. Radar echoes have started to show up (mostly virga) in
southern Wyoming, where the storm will probably get going in just a few
hours. Given the jetstream flow from the west-southwest, it will take
quite a while, probably more than 12h from now (10pm on Monday) before
it will make significant inroads into Colorado, but Larimer County
should definitely get hit first, possibly quite hard already by, say,
noon tomorrow. The core of this storm will occur in the PM hours of
tomorrow, and it is possible that we will get higher precipitation rates
away from the foothills than last time. Since much of it will fall
during daylight, it may have a hard time sticking to roads etc., even
though it should change over to snow the moment soon after it gets going
(in the plains). Foothills should see an earlier onset, since it will
take less time to moisten up the air underneath the clouds tomorrow
Models are producing similar amounts to what was
advertized last time, but with much less of a focus on the foothills,
but rather along the I-25 corridor.
This is due to the fact that this storm will
produce a cutoff low that will form either overhead or just to our south
and east tomorrow afternoon (about 100-200 miles off the last cutoff
during its brief lifetime). There is still the possibility that this
cutoff process could occur too late/too far to the east to end up
reducing our totals, but even then, we should be good for at least 0.5"
H2O, while the high-end scenarios could drop between 1-1.5" of
precipitation up and down the northern Front Range.
Bottomline (I need to get going): I expect to
see reports of 12-18" (yet
in the foothills by Wednesday morning, but will
more water content than last time - I don't expect to see the huge
snow:water ratios of the tail end of this storm as we had last time
(50:1 or higher was recorded in Boulder and my place by Friday evening);
Front Range cities will have a fairly long inefficient period of
wet&partially melting snow thru, say, 4pm on Tuesday, cutting down total
amounts - this time I would be surprised to see snowfall reports over
12" in the plains, so, let's go for 6-10" down here.
I was too optimistic about the snowfall chances
west of the Divide with the last storm, it got hung up over Elk Range
(yet again), but we should see at least some snow west of here, but the
brunt of this storm will end up in eastern Colorado yet again.
This is a very active stormtrack, don't be
surprised if we get another storm around Saturday. I may not be able to
send out another PSA before then, since I may be engaged in some in situ
sampling of snow conditions around the state (it is spring break, after
Think snow, in fact, let's go for some seasonal
records over the next few weeks/ months - Boulder 'only' needs another
three feet or so (more like 10 ft. for our house) to break their 100-yr
P.S.: 20.4" at our house (and 14.6" in Boulder)
were higher than expected, although it did reflect some very fluffy
dendrites indeed. There were several 24"+ reports in Jefferson County,
yet again the bull's-eye of a snowstorm, consistent with behavior
established since December '06...
PSA #8 - a good shot at a
foot for everyone, but not a classic El Niño spring-dum
Good afternoon, y'all,
after last weekend's dud (for all but Jefferson
County foothills), a well advertised storm is dropping through Wyoming
right now to bring us a reminder that our snowstorm season is far from
over, despite our brief flirtation with spring warmth this week.
Our winds have already shifted around to the
northeast, and should blow from that sector for the next 24-36h, cooling
us below freezing in the plains by midnight or earlier, only to continue
dropping (or barely remain stationary) for most of tomorrow (the coldest
air is being tapped all the way from Canada and will take some time to
make it here).
There is plenty of low-level moisture available
to our northeast due to the melting snowpack over the western high
plains, plus it looks like the storm will tap a little bit into a
moisture feed from the eastern subtropical Pacific. Both a departing
jet streak to our northeast and an incoming one from the northwest will
help with giving us a bit of extra lift, and there may be brief periods
when the mid-level circulation (just above mountain level) will try to
cut off to slow things down a bit, but we won't get into a classic Four
Corners' Low situation, so a repeat of the big mid-March storms of 2003
or 1998 is not in the cards, alas.
Models have been fairly consistent about
spitting out at least half an inch of H2O over us, with some of the
finer resolution models giving the foothills an inch or more by tomorrow
evening. This seems reasonable for this time of year, and we have seen
plenty of such March storms in the past, irrespective of the ENSO phase.
The storm will draw in some pretty cold air for this time of year which
will assure all snow when things get serious after midnight even in the
plains, and should be good for some good dendrites in the second half of
the storm, tomorrow afternoon. Once we clear out tomorrow night, we
could see subzero lows in the higher foothills, and close to 10F in the
plains. If soccer games are not canceled on Saturday, the kids will be
pretty miserable, especially if we keep some clouds around for much of
How much snow do I expect? Fort Collins might
get enough snow overnight to make the morning commute 'interesting',
although paved roads have had a couple of days to soak up the heat from
the first spell in the 60s of the year. The evening rush hour should be
pretty bad everywhere, since temperatures will drop well below freezing
by then, even though the heaviest snow might be winding down by then.
All totaled, I would give Fort Collins 6-10" by
tomorrow evening, Boulder 8-12", and the higher foothills 12-18". Just
enough to catch us up to near-normal for March...
Think snow -
P.S.: Next storm is due to come in around
Wednesday next week, has a 50/50 chance of becoming PSA-worthy...
P.P.S.: With all the dynamics and some Pacific
moisture being entrained, this storm should be good for all mountains in
Colorado, favoring the northern and central mountains over the
southwestern mountains (Telluride and south). IOW, a bit of an
equalizer after this season...
PSA #7 - just barely
Fri 2/19/2010 5:15 PM
Good afternoon, everyone,
After yesterday's 1-4", and current flurries
(in Boulder), I have decided to send out a PSA, even though it will take
about three days (Thursday into Sunday) to come up with snowfall totals
approaching a foot somewhere in the foothills of Larimer (most likely)
or Boulder County (2nd best bet). We are in the middle of an
overrunning precipitation event where low-level upslope flow is keeping
us in relatively cold air, while moist Pacific air is being brought in
aloft with fairly strong west-southwesterly flow. After yesterday's
0.1-0.2" of moisture, we can expect to see another 0.3-0.7" by Sunday
morning in one of those drawn-out snowfall events that have been
somewhat characteristic of this winter. Both the low-level upslope flow
and the upper-level flow are not particularly strong, so I do not expect
to see "heavy" snowfall at any point (say, more than 1"/h for more than
one hour), but we might very well get 1/4"-1/2" per hour for up to 24h
from early Saturday thru early Sunday.
The weather service arrived at the same
conclusion in its afternoon update, and points out (correctly) that
low-level flow that might veer to the southeast by tomorrow would be
more favorable for Larimer County than points further south. They also
favor the foothills over the adjacent plains, which reflects better
lifting and closer proximity to the divide for the spill-over moisture
aloft. Temperature should remain cold enough for all snow at all
elevations, but temperatures may be close enough to freezing in the
plains to allow for some day-time melting tomorrow. The coldest air of
this event should reside over our region on Sunday, as the whole system
(very slowly) drifts to the southeast (leaving southern Colorado under
the threat of more snow all the way into Monday, while our chances for
the white stuff should drop off considerably on Sunday).
There is some remaining uncertainty about
precipitation amounts due to upper level jet streak dynamics that could
create some heavier snowfall bands, but I am not too hopeful that this
will really pan out. If you do get one of those heavier bands that
could last more than 1h, consider yourself lucky. If we clear out Sunday
night, we could easily see another subzero night in the foothills, if
not on the plains.
Watch out for the next PSA, we are getting
closer to March when El Niño can dish out some big ones (such as in
1992, 1998, and 2003)...
Think snow, oh, and this one looks good for all
Colorado mountains, but (as usual) especially in the San Juans, Elk
Range, and towards the end, the Sangre de Cristos.
P.S.: The last PSA verified a bit on the low
end, but Boulder (5.9") and yours truly (7.6") ended up close to what
PSA #6 (just barely)
Fri 2/5/2010 5:35 PM
Good evening everyone,
it has been more than six weeks since my last
PSA - blame these doldrums on El Niño! In any case, I may be tempting
the snow gods by contemplating the possibility of a foot out of the
upcoming storm, but the combined effect of snow and cold will be quite a
change from our benign weather of the last four weeks in particular.
A rather complicated storm system will be
setting up on Sunday and Monday, and I don't have the time to really do
it justice. In short, one upper level low pressure system will slowly
drift eastward across the Four Corners region, while a second such low
will drop southwestward (!) from Canada into the High Plains to
eventually absorb the first low, but not before giving us a prolonged
period of low level easterly flow along with falling temperature to
levels not seen since early January, if not early December (yes, I am
talking the possibility of sub-zero lows even in the plains). Ahead of
the first low, snow showers will form in the mountains west of here to
give most ski resorts a modest dusting on Saturday, and it will be
interesting to see how much of that moisture spills over into the
foothills by Saturday night (it would be an early indicator of good
moisture availability if it does). As the first, Pacific low moves
across the Four Corners, the San Juans should be good for yet another
good-sized snowfall to keep up their (above-)average snowpack on Sunday,
while our neck of the woods should see lowering clouds, slowly dropping
temperatures, and the onset of continuous snowfall by early afternoon,
the latest on that day. There is still quite a difference between
different forecast models about the intensity of this first round of
snow for us, but all of us should see at least two to four inches by
Sunday evening, with temperatures dropping into the 10sF in the plains
and +0sF in the higher foothills late on Sunday. The 'best' case
scenario would involve getting early spill-over already on Saturday, and
fluffy snowfall ramping up to 0.5"/h by the afternoon, leading to 6" or
more by late Sunday (in the foothills).
Monday will be very wintery around here, with
Canadian air oozing in from the north all day, and steady light upslope
snow continuing most of that day (again, there is still quite a range in
the models on how much could fall, but another two to four inches are
quite likely for all of us. Temperatures will struggle to rise at all
on Monday, most likely staying in the 10sF in the plains and maybe
reaching 10F higher up. There may be lingering snow into the evening
rush hour, but amounts should steadily decrease by then. By Monday
evening, I expect to see at least 4-8" in the plains (probably least in
Larimer County and more towards Denver), with 6-12" in the foothills.
Monday (and Tuesday) night will be the coldest since early January,
probably coldest the first night in the higher foothills (they will
clear out sooner than below), and coldest the second night in the
plains. I expect to see lows near 0F in the plains and down to -10F
higher up by Wednesday morning, nothing too unusual, but a reminder that
winter is still with us.
It will remain somewhat cool and unsettled in
the mountains for the next two weeks (but overall drier than in many
other Februaries), while the eastern plains will probably see a return
of the mid-winter 'El Niño snooze' before the real action resumes in
Think snow, and stay tuned for my next PSA,
PSA#5 - A wintery Xmas
week to round out a wintery December Tue 12/22/2009 10:11 AM
Good evening, y'all,
Yes, there is snow in the offing, especially on Wednesday, with
potential for flurries through Christmas Day, but I am getting ahead of
myself. Similar to the early December event, this storm is dropping in
from the northwest, dragging in Canadian air (not the ultracold variety,
but cold nevertheless). There are some issues with the details of this
storm, as usual. For instance, the onset on Tuesday evening is somewhat
uncertain, due to the dry air that has been created by several days of
downslope winds, and due to the possibility that the upper air
circulation will probably drop a bit too far south so as to preempt us
from getting a full-blown Four Corners Low event. On the other hand, we
should see a reinforcing surge of the coldest air on Thursday that might
give us a total of up to 72h of more or less northeasterly (upslope)
flow, as the cutoff low (that tracks too far south and then east of us
to give us a direct hit) wobbles from New Mexico northeastward into the
Great Plains. <The Newsmedia will probably go bonkers over this
blizzard for parts of Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, etc., right around
Xmas; for a brief moment, the lower 48 states will have a very
impressive snowcover before the eastern seaboard melts out again>.
In any case, here is the bottomline for us: snow
should begin tomorrow evening, first in the mountains west of here, then
the foothills, and finally the plains. Heaviest snowfall rates
(probably not in excess of 1"/h) can be expected during the first half
By noon on Wednesday, I would expect to see 4-8"
in the foothills, and 2-6" in the plains, with off and on snowfall
continuing for another two days or so, becoming arctic snow (ice
needles) in the foothills by Thursday (i.e., denser snow after the first
round of fluffy snow on Wednesday). Coldest temperatures can be
expected around Thursday night when most of us should see sub-zero lows
(yet again). Daytime highs on Thursday and Friday will probably
struggle to get above 10F in the plains and 0F in the foothills (yes,
comparable to earlier this month, but now the anomalies are not as
When all is said and done (Friday), someone will
probably report close to a foot of snow (could be the lower foothills as
for PSA#3), but most everybody should have received 4-6" to make for a
picture-perfect Xmas setting.
Looks pretty boring beyond this storm into 2010,
for now, more on that next week,
PSA#4 - Belated Update
12/7/2009 10:14 PM
Quick update, despite a lot of hope for this second 'storm', it
looks like it is setting up with too much southwesterly flow aloft to be
of benefit for most of us. A few inches is all I can promise by tomorrow
evening, but it will remain cold into mid-week.
In fact, this is easily the coldest beginning stretch of December since
1972, quite a change from November. It will probably take more than a
few days to warm us up back to normal, so whatever snow is on the ground
by tomorrow evening will not melt anytime soon.
Got to run,
PSA#4 - Saturday
thru Tuesday evening (5-8 Dec'09) Fri 12/4/2009 6:01 PM
Good evening everyone,
More winter weather is on the way, with
snow mostly from tomorrow evening thru Sunday evening, and Monday
evening thru most of Tuesday, the latter being iffier than the first
Temperatures will 'peak' tomorrow morning,
with highs above freezing on the plains after a mild and breezy night,
only to drop back into the deep freeze by Sunday morning.
A storm system quite similar to the last one is
on track to reach us tomorrow evening, and it should be good for a
prolonged light-to-moderate snowfall period of at least 24h.
Depending on the amount of drying with downslope
flow ahead of it, it may take quite a while (again) to saturate the air
above us before it can start snowing (earlier in the foothills than in
the plains). But this also means that it will cool off sufficiently to
be all snow at all elevations. If the snow commences well before
midnight tomorrow, I could see getting 3-6" by Sunday morning in the
higher foothills, and 2-4" in the plains, while a later onset could
easily cut these amounts in half. The weather service inexplicably
predicts only 1-3" & 1", respectively, even though its own discussion
mentions 3-6" by the end of Sunday (http://www.crh.noaa.gov/product.php?site=BOU&product=AFD&issuedby=BOU
), oh well. It should snow all day on Sunday, but amounts may be
hindered by the fact that we should be enveloped in arctic air by
sunrise, meaning that we will see less and less dendrites (and more
dense ice needles) during the day. On the other hand, the upslope
(easterly) flow should last pretty much all day,
making up for lost intensity with duration compared to the last storm.
All in all, I believe we should see anywhere from 2-5" in the plains in
the driest scenario to 6-10" almost everywhere for the wettest
scenario. There is more of a southeasterly component to this upslope
which should be of greater benefit to Fort Collins and surroundings than
the last storm.
Lowest temperatures of this event should be
reached Sunday night, with another round of subzero lows possible in the
plains and foothills, although the air may not get still enough to allow
for the sub-minus 10F lows that we saw in the higher foothills yesterday
The more interesting storm will approach us on
Monday with good moisture from the Pacific to mostly benefit the
mountains west of here (finally!), especially towards the San Juans, and
the potential for significant spill-over moisture for us, depending on
the depth of the remaining arctic air that may get held in place by high
pressure to our north, and/or whether the actual storm tracks thru
central/northern Colorado, or slightly to the south which could give us
the additional benefit of deep upslope flow on Tuesday. Right now, the
range of potential outcomes is quite large, but the wetter scenarios
could easily duplicate or exceed the amounts that we will receive over
the weekend. The wetter scenario would also imply that we get more or
less continuous snowfall (with the least amount of snow on Monday) from
Saturday evening thru Tuesday evening!
Stay tuned, I will update this on Monday when
things are (hopefully) clearer.
Think snow, these next two storms could get most
of us up to a 'normal' December snowfall total, if not higher!
P.S.: PSA#3 verified pretty well, except for
Fort Collins, sorry to say. Most of us received from 4-8" snowfall
totals, with at least one report (thanks, Rich!) of 12"
total just west of Boulder, and
the coldest (often sub-zero) lows of the season
yesterday morning in the foothills, and this morning in the plains.
These temperatures were on the low end of what is possible this early in
the winter, and also compared to other El Niño winters. In a few
months, we may well look back at this early December cold snap and find
that it was the coldest of the season (this is not a promise,
however). However, I can promise that it will
warm up significantly
once we get past Wednesday!
PSA#3 - marginal
snow, but drastic cool-down in the works! Tue
12/1/2009 5:45 PM
Good evening, everyone,
it has been quite a while since our last
significant snow event in mid-November, but it looks like this will be
remedied overnight as a decent postfrontal band of snow has developed
over Wyoming today that looks poised to hit us later this evening with
at least 12h, if not 24h of light to moderate snowfall. Temperatures
should drop by at least 25F tomorrow, and quite possibly another 5-10F
by Thursday when we might also get a secondary surge when the coldest
air gets in here. Especially if it clears up tomorrow night and
especially Thursday night, everybody has a shot at sub-zero lows, with
'more favored' locales hitting -10F before it's said and done.
BTW, for an El Niño situation, this would be about as cold as we can
expect to get all winter!
How much snow will we get? We are starting out
with some pretty dry air, and it looks like the upslope level of this
event will be confined to the lowest 3-4K ft., so not the kind of deep
upslope we enjoyed during the last two PSA-events in late October and
There is going to be an overnight period when
the airmass will be good for dendritic growth (-10 to -15C), so this
snow could be quite fluffy towards the morning, and it will start out as
snow even in the lowest elevations. There should be lingering snow into
Wednesday evening, and a second round of (lighter) snow on Thursday,
probably around sunset / rush hour. I mention the timing since the air
will be cold enough by that time (low teens F in the plains / near 0F in
higher elevations) to render the usual magnesium-chloride treatment
useless, if not dangerous (nothing like hitting icy roads when you don't
expect it). If we can get the snowfall going this evening (rather than
early tomorrow), I would expect to see 4-8" overnight for the foothills,
and 3-6" in the adjacent plains, with an additional 1-2" by tomorrow
evening, and another 1-2" by Thursday evening, so some lucky foothill
dweller (with a good eastern exposure, probably below
8000') could get
a foot of fluffy snow (maybe, 0.5" of moisture
at best), while almost everyone should see at least 4-6" out of this.
If the upslope is too weak thru this event / moisture too slow to get in
here, cut these amounts by about a third (if you can see the moon past
midnight, we get into that scenario), but still expect to see the cold
air, with highs in the 10s F most of tomorrow / all of Thursday, close
to the daily record low high temperatures for this time of year.
There is more snow and cold in the pipeline for
the weekend / early next week, but the models are still wrestling with
the details, since the timing and interplay of another batch of cold air
from the north and new moisture from the Pacific are somewhat iffy.
However, that storm should definitely hit the
mountains west of here, no matter what the details. It could go a long
way towards improving skiing conditions at resorts & in the backcountry,
unless it comes too hard and heavy, in which case we could see vastly
increased avalanche danger given the weak snowpack west of here. More
on this later this week.
Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy winter weather, the
combination of snow and cold over the next few days will be quite a
cahnge after this mild November -
P.S.: Looks like PSA#2 verified nicely, but the
12"+ totals were more towards Jefferson than Boulder County. Compared
to my forecast, it took longer than expected to get the powder snow I
promised, so the melted amounts were much closer to my forecast than the
P.P.S.: For the record, the weather service
forecast is slightly on the conservative (dry) side for the upcoming
event (2-4" of snow by tomorrow evening in and near Boulder, and 2-5" in
the foothills), and about 5F warmer.
Fri 11/13/2009 6:22 PM
Good evening everyone,
after our dump two weeks ago, it is a bit
harder to get excited about a smaller storm, but it looks like we should
see enough snow even in Front Range cities to justify a PSA for Saturday
The snowband that has moved thru our area this
afternoon is not to be confused with the main event tomorrow afternoon
into Sunday which will probably feature a near-classic Four Corners low
for a short period on Sunday morning, deep upslope flow, and good
moisture all the way from today thru mid-day Sunday (while today's front
and upslope surge won't be good for more than a few inches of snow at
best, it has 'primed the pump' so that tomorrow night's system won't
have to bring in much additional moisture before the upslope flow can
convert it into precipitation). The sun may try to peak thru the clouds
late morning tomorrow at higher elevations, but that will be short-lived
Alas, like several storms before it in the last
few months, and unlike the PSA#1 storm, tomorrow's storm will slow down
too late, and just sit and spin too far east of here to give us any
'backwash' precipitation past the early afternoon on Sunday. Thus,
precipitation and snowfall totals won't come close to what we saw 2.5
weeks ago. After the initial transition from rain/drizzle to snow this
afternoon, it will be cold enough thru Sunday for all snow to fall at
In fact, Sunday's snow may end up falling at
just the right temperature (about -10C near 10K elevation) to be quite
fluffy, yet again. The stalled low will keep us fairly cool well into
the middle of next week, with the potential for yet another storm by
next weekend, but that might end up being another PSA.
Bottomline: most of us won't see much more snow
until tomorrow afternoon (I really don't buy the weather service idea of
'likely snow' overnight), then about a 24h period of light-to-moderate
snow from about noon tomorrow until noon on Sunday, which could top out
over 12" for many locales in and near the foothills (northeasterly
exposure would help), but even Fort Collins should be good for 4-8", so
I agree with the weather service on the main storm, just not the next
18h or so. Temperatures should remain below freezing thru the weekend
at higher elevations, but may break out into the 30s in lower elevations
to melt some of the snow initially tomorrow.
Short postmortem on the October 27-29, 2009
I guess my "foot or higher" forecast panned out
for most everybody, and the comparison to the 1997 storm worked out as
well, with very fluffy snow in the latter period just as in that
legendary storm. As best as I can tell, Jefferson County's foothills
took the brunt of this storm, with several reports over 40" of snow, and
over 2" of moisture, second only to October 1997. Both Fort Collins and
Boulder ended up with one of their top-10 snowstorms since 1950 (almost
and 23", respectively), very respectable. If
you want to see a
storm reports, I recommend:
However, it missed out on some reports from
northwest Boulder County (ahem!), so I consider that map somewhat
preliminary, even though it did include a fair number of CoCoRAHS
This was the 6th biggest storm at our house
(just over three feet), but the biggest one that I have ever missed (and
almost all of it melted over the next two weeks, unlike 1997 when a
bigger storm actually started my winter snowpack that lasted right into
PSA#1 - Tuesday night into
Thursday Mon 10/26/2009 10:36 AM
Good morning everyone,
this will be one of my shorter PSA's, need to blast out of here in a few
There is a storm coming onshore that will hit us mid-week, with the
potential for over a foot up and down the Front Range. Enough
differences in the details between model (runs) to hedge the exact
amounts, but almost everyone should get at least 1" of moisture by
Thursday. As always, there are scenarios where we could end up with
substantially more (I have seen runs up to and over 2"
of moisture), or less (below 0.5" would be a real surprise), but the
most likely scenario would give us upslope rain changing to snow in the
plains by midnight tomorrow (snow in foothills all along), with the best
chance for heavier snows on Wednesday, probably midday (which would
lessen the impact on warm roads after two warm days). It could linger
well into Thursday, but it looks like things are moving along too
quickly for that.
There is a passing resemblance of this storm to the October '97 storm,
but it should remain weaker than that one...
Gotta run, this snow should stick around into at least Saturday...
University of Colorado- CIRES Climate Diagnostics Center NOAA-ESRL
Physical Science Division
R/PSD1 325 Broadway
Boulder, CO 80305-3328
Postmortum PSA # 7 Sun
4/19/2009 4:32 PM
Storm total: 4.33/37.7". Heaviest snow from
about noon on
until 8pm (around 16" in that period). Power was out for 47h - longest
we have seen around here in 19 years. We also had an amazing amount of
tree damage (heavy branches down) around our yard, definitely worse than
in 2003 (which was another 3"/26", and lasted longer). More slash to
(safely) burn for at least a week or two..., and, yes, it should remain
storm-free for at least six days
Updated PSA#7 - Ouverture
is just about over, time to batten down the hatches (above 7K)!
Thu 4/16/2009 4:42 PM
Good afternoon, y'all -
Act I of this storm is on track in terms of
timing, but may turn out to be a real crapshoot in terms of
precipitation amounts around here. At this point, I blame the
southeasterly upslope, right off the Palmer Divide, for keeping Boulder
and adjacent foothills relatively dry for now, even though the radar is
trying to fill in from the east. Once we get over this hump, we should
be good for more or less continuous precipitation well into Saturday,
and most of it should fall as snow in the foothills. However, there may
be long stretches with only slushy snow in the plains. But I am getting
ahead of myself.
Compared to my initial PSA, I am glad to report
that models other than the NAM have come around to giving us at least a
good-sized storm (2"+ H2O seems to be the lowest amount advertized), but
temperatures during the storm will be not very much lower from where
they are now (no strong Canadian high 'plunging down' to bring extra
cold air into the fray). In fact, while the system brought
exceptionally cold air with it when it hit the desert southwest
yesterday, it will be slowing down as it moves east, and we will have
overrunning warm air coming in from the southeast to balance out the
cooling from precipitation processes overhead. Therefore, I am not
nearly as convinced as the weather service (they just upgraded to a
winter storm warning with 10-24" in the plains and 18-36" for the
foothills (no change there)) that this will be such a big snowstorm on
the plains. In fact, there is enough of a range in the different
models' temperature forecasts that one can find justification for
keeping it almost all rain in the plains throughout the storm. On the
other hand, the NAM is one of the colder models and looks like it will
allow the switch to snow by around sunset in the plains, and should stay
cold enough right into Saturday to keep at least the falling
precipitation in the form of snow down here even if it has a hard time
sticking to the roads.
Meanwhile I don't think anymore that there will
be much of break into two parts ("Acts"), in fact, the latest NAM is now
showing some of the heaviest precipitation tomorrow morning when we were
going to see that original break. Always tough to time the most intense
precipitation periods during a prolonged storm like this, so I won't
belabor this any further. However, most models now advertise a
prolonged backwash period into Saturday evening as the upper low is
supposed to park itself over southeastern Colorado. Oh, and before I
forget, there is plenty of moisture around, in fact, the abundance of
moisture upstream (dewpoints around 45F on the eastern plains) is one of
the reasons that I don't see that much of a cool-off coming with this
storm (wetbulb effect should be minimal).
Here is my forecast for the next two days, first
for the foothills, then for the plains, with some caveats thrown in at
the end, so we don't get too excited:
FOOTHILLS (above 7K): Occasional snow showers
should become more widespread this evening, favoring Larimer County for
now. With strengthening easterly upslope, I would expect to see a
steady overnight snow to bring us about 6-15" total by tomorrow morning
(highest in higher (south-)eastfacing locales). From tomorrow morning
thru Saturday morning, we should have more or less continuous moderate
to heavy snow (0.5-2"/h), you can do the math yourself - it looks like
one of those classic spring upslope events that has been sorely missing
for a few years. If the more optimistic models come thru, we should be
good for a prolonged tapering off period on Saturday that might add
another 4-8" for us. Totals by Saturday evening: two to five feet, and
I am not saying this offhand, some of the higher resolution models have
been advertising more than 4" of moisture for several runs now (even if
we were to miss out on much precipitation this afternoon). Enjoy it
while it lasts, there really is not much hope for at least a week after
this one! If the higher amounts verify, it could beat the April 1997
storm totals that still constitute my April storm record (since 1991),
but it will probably stay below the most extreme totals of March 2003,
March 1990, and April 1986.
FRONT RANGE CITIES (below 6K): Boy, this is a
tough one, and I wish I could share the optimism of the weather service.
However, their own forecasts already give a hint at the problem, they
are predicting highs in the mid-30s tomorrow and low 40s on Saturday,
with snow "likely" falling both days! First of all, if that backwash
snow on Saturday really materializes, I don't think it will be in the
low 40s, but even high 30s would still be too warm to get much
accumulation going. On the other hand, there are thunderstorms just
east of us that could give the plains the kind of heavy snowfall rates
that could accumulate really quickly despite near- or even
above-freezing temperatures during the daytime.
Bottomline: if you insist on measuring snow only
at the end of the storm, you may not have much to show for it, but, say,
measure-and-scrape tabletop measurements could indeed come up with more
than a foot, especially if you get some 'thundersnow' or good snows
In fact, you should wake up to some snow on the
ground both tomorrow and on Saturday, and a well-time early morning
snowburst could wreak havoc with the rush hour tomorrow, but in general
this storm should not be that much of a traffic hindrance compare to,
say, the March 26 storm.
Before I forget, if you live in the lower
foothills, just split the difference between the two discussions above.
Caveats: any time you have a lot of
thunderstorms thrown into the mix, you can get extra moisture (or get
short-changed) depending on where you are with respect to the storm
(this mostly affects today); the overall system is on a near-perfect
track to give us the big moisture amounts described above - any
departure from it, even a slight acceleration towards the end could
knock down the precipitation totals from, say, 2-4" down to 1-2"
pretty easily, so let's just
hope that this won't happen (and I don't see any
indication right now that it could). If the storm were to slow down
instead, precipitation totals could be higher, but then the lack of cold
air entrainment from the north could result in even lower snow:rain
ratios in the lowest elevations.
This may be the last PSA of the season where I
have to mention the lower elevations, but I sure hope it's not the last
one for the rest of us - even if end up measuring four feet with this
one, I would still just catch up with a normal snow season rather than
being dead last as I was three weeks ago.
Think snow, we still need it!
Wed 4/15/2009 5:26 PM
Good afternoon everyone,
a very big storm coming in over the next 2-3
days, and I won't have time to do it justice for now. Things to note:
1. a drawn-out event, potentially lasting for two days or more; 2. while
currently about as cold as it gets for mid-April, this storm will
probably modify as it slowly approaches, and lose some of the
low-elevation threat for snow that the models are trying to 'sell us';
3. while the drawn-out nature and size of the storm virtually guarantee
a good soaking for all us, there is the possibility that would give the
Front Range foothills the biggest snowstorm since March 2003, but only
one model (the NAM) has been latching onto this 'best-case'
scenario, dropping 3"+ of moisture on the foothills from Larimer down to
While the main storm will slowly pass thru the
Four Corners region tomorrow evening, a leading 'spoke' of this system
will pass thru our area, and could produce a first round of snow for the
foothills, while the lower elevations may see rain changing to snow
after sunset. Amounts are very iffy at this point, since it will be
quite warm ahead of it, and since it might be quite showery
(thunderstorms?!) as this portion of the storm crosses over us. Best
case scenario: 12" of thundersnow for some lucky foothill dweller - and
this is ahead of the main storm!
The second 'business-part' of the storm should
impact us from about midday Friday until midday Saturday, but it will
require for the upper low to 'rebound' from a southern track thru
central New Mexico into SE Colorado and SW Kansas, where it would have
to stall to optimize the moisture plume from the Gulf of Mexico, as well
as keep us under deep upslope thru the duration. If we really get heavy
snow for 24h or so, several feet of snow would be possible in the
foothills, while Front Range cities could get about a foot (at least on
I will try and update this tomorrow morning,
before Act I opens, but I am also trying to juggle TWO workshops in town
that are happening at the same time.
Hey, great jinx factor to have a bunch of
meteorologists in town trying to get out tomorrow evening and on Friday!
So, there you have it - anything from a trace of
snow in the plains for the worst case scenario to several feet above 8K
is in the cards (although I will be disappointed if we get less than 1.5
ft. up high). Good snow producer for the mountains west of here as
well, initially on south-facing slopes (San Juans), along with another
dose of dust(?), then more for the northern mountains to give everyone a
shot at about a foot or two...
Looks like a break for a few days after this,
but I don't think that the season will be over just yet (for the
Have fun in the snow - Friday could be dicy even
in the plains -
University of Colorado- CIRES Climate
Diagnostics Center NOAA-ESRL Physical Science Division
R/PSD1 325 Broadway
Boulder, CO 80305-3328
PSA # 6
Fri 4/3/2009 5:07 PM
Good afternoon everyone,
well, April came in like a lion for some of us, and last week's storm
set the stage for a nice little wet spell around here. As if on cue, La
Niña appears to be collapsing as well, but that would be another
audience (and this could be one of those 'bear market rallies' as well).
In any case, another storm is taking aim at us,
it is coming in from the west as I write this, it will initially produce
mixed precipitation or even rain in the plains, and there are some
fairly large uncertainties regarding the final snowfall amounts,
depending on the track and speed of the system. I don't have time to go
into all of these caveats, but here is my 'middle-of-the-road' scenario
(the weather service is a bit more conservative, after more than one day
of 'back-pedaling' by various forecast models):
Look for more showers this evening, especially
after 9pm; these will gradually change to all snow by midnight even in
the lowest elevations, while the higher foothills should change over to
snow by sunset, especially in heavier showers. A surface cold front
should sweep in from the north and east in the next few hours, shifting
our winds from southwest to an easterly direction all the way up to
about 10K later this evening.
Moisture seems to be in good supply, judging
from rain showers in Boulder already 3h ago, so I don't think we need to
worry about that. As the storm comes into Colorado, it should form a
cutoff low close to the Four Corners, an almost ideal spot, but it will
keep moving along to the east-northeast to allow only for a short window
of opportunity for the highest snowfall rates overnight.
I would guess we should get some 12h of decent
snowfall overnight into tomorrow morning, with a very prolonged
tapering-off period, as the upper air low should slow down once it gets
east of the mountains. These 'backwash' situations are often quite
meaningless for the immediate Front Range (while blizzard conditions are
actually forecast in far eastern CO), but there may just be enough
instability and moisture left behind tomorrow to give us a few decent
showers all the way to sunset tomorrow.
All in all, I would expect to see 12-24" in
favored foothill locations (I expect less of a 'barrier jet' to rob us
of our typical enhancement compared to the plains that we saw a week
ago), and about 7-15" in Front Range cities (western Boulder should get
a foot, but probably not as much as a week ago). The total H2O should
reach more than 1" for the foothills, and 0.5-1" for the plains. This
forecast is slightly more generous than the weather service, since I
expect a slightly more favorable track than they have picked for now. I
also believe that the forecast details are not as critical this time of
year compared to mid-winter.
Alright, quick list of a few caveats: for the
plains, there is the potential for thundershowers this evening (wasn't
that fun to hear thunder with heavy snow in Boulder?!) which could (a)
bring a substantial amount of rain to the plains before changing to
sloppy snow, and (b) could affect the strength of the upslope enough in
its wake to give the plains a long pause before renewed precipitation
falling as snow; for the foothills, the main threat to getting more than
a foot of snow would be that the upper low moves out to the plains too
While forecast models have been teasing us with
the idea that the storm could end up tracking too far to the north
(favoring southern WY over us), I don't see that happening right now,
and this has been a typical model bias for many years (apparently hard
to fix) so that I am not too concerned about that (that's why the wx
service is more conservative in its forecast than I am).
On the other hand, if we are lucky (like some of
us on Wednesday?!), the low might just stall long enough (and close
enough) to our east to produce an additional 4-8" of backwash in
addition to the 2-4" that I foresee right now. Oh well, one can always
Wed 3/25/2009 7:28 PM
Good evening everyone,
sorry about the delay, but I was out of town
until yesterday, and was still overcoming a heavy dose of skepticism
after Monday's dud. But it really looks as if (almost) all of the
required parts of a decent snowstorm are coming together for tomorrow -
at last! It probably helps that I will try to fly out of DIA in the
middle of all of this... Before I get going, here are a few remaining
caveats: this is a fast mover, I really don't think we will see much
snow after sunset tomorrow, so 12-18h of moderate to heavy snow will
have to suffice. If there is a delay in moistening up our boundary
layer from our present anemic values (dewpoints have started to inch up
but are still below 20F around here), that will reduce the efficiency of
this storm. A second caveat: while the pressure rises to the north
correspond nicely to a surface high over Alberta that is building in
from the north, the pressure falls to our south appear disorganized for
now. There is still the possibility that this storm may end up further
south than currently expected which would shorten our preciously short
upslope period even further. Between these two factors, I could see
getting half of what I will describe below. If we get even less than
that, we really are in the midst of one of the worst dry spells I have
ever witnessed, rivaling 2001-02, enough said.
So, the most likely scenario for tonight and
tomorrow is that the current spill-over snow will be replaced by
widespread light snow before sunrise tomorrow, depends a bit on how fast
the upper low consolidates over SW WY/NW CO tonight, as well as on the
speed of the surface cold front that still needs to cross most of WY. By
sunrise, we should see deep upslope flow in place with the heaviest
snows near the divide, but working their way down to the plains by
mid-day the latest.
Temperatures will be cold enough for all snow
for everyone, but the warmth of the recent week or two will be
sufficient to delay serious road problems on the plains until after the
AM rush hour, UNLESS the storm comes in a bit faster and stronger than
expected right now.
Temperatures should drop most the day and reach
the 10sF in the plains by the evening, and about 10F lower in the higher
foothills - a very wintery storm indeed, and good for fluffy powder snow
during the bulk of it (might be getting too cold near the end in the
foothills to maintain those dendrites). Given predicted moisture totals
of at least 0.5" in most model runs, with a sizable minority reaching
over 1" in and near the foothills, almost everyone should see at least
half a foot of snow, with many one foot+ reports possible.
Northeast-facing foothill locations might reach 2"+/h during the height
of the storm, totaling two feet+ if everything comes together as
This should easily become the biggest snowstorm
of the season, attesting more to the wimpiness of the season than the
strength&duration of this storm. Speaking of which, if it is still
snowing at a good clip about 24h from now, there is always the
possibility that the storm might actually slow down enough to give us an
extra half to one foot, but I put the odds for that below the odds of
getting another dud instead...
The overall stormtrack should remain in our
favor, with one or two more PSA-worthy storms possible next week, but
let's get this one under our belt first.
We have a long way to go to make up for a 'lost
Think snow, Klaus
P.S.: If we clear out tomorrow night, northern
foothill locales could see below 0F before the winds pick up as usual,
quite cold for this time of year. The next potential storm could hit as
early as Sunday night - will try and update/issue another PSA by
Saturday if needed (won't be back from my trip until Friday night).
Update to PSA#4 - tonight
Thu 2/12/2009 12:58 PM
Good afternoon -
after a decent little snow two days ago (for
many of us), we are going to see another round of snow tonight, with
more unsettled weather into Sunday.
Looks like Larimer County has a better chance
for snow than places further south (both placement of low and upslope
flow more from southeast than east). Don't have time to do a more
thorough analysis, but 1-3" should be widespread from Boulder northward,
and slightly more in the foothills tonight.
If the rest of the weekend, looks more
promising, I will try and update by tomorrow afternoon, otherwise, enjoy
the seasonal weather for a change -
Update PSA#4 - best
chances for snow in next four days
Mon 2/9/2009 4:03 PM
Quick update on current PSA:
1. spill-over event for higher foothills did not
bring much (if any) snow to us today;
2. next shot of snow will be tomorrow afternoon,
along with a brief(<12h) period of upslope - air is probably too dry to
give us anything but flurries at best, but the most recent models give a
bit more reason for optimism (say, 1-3" best case scenario by tomorrow
evening) than (a) earlier runs, and (b) this dud of a weekend;
3. speaking of duds - the wind storm that
materialized today (stronger than expected) looks is on its way out,
mainly due to colder air moving in at higher elevations which will help
to 'de-focus' the windfield away from the Front Range - the rest of the
week should be relatively wind-free (say, under 40mph wind gusts);
4. the next chance for snow will be Thursday
night into Friday - still has the potential to rescue this PSA from
being a false alarm altogether - more on this later this week -
At least the mountains west of the divide are
finally cashing in on this situation... Think snow (as opposed to grass
PSA #4 - totals over next
week or so Fri 2/6/2009 5:52 PM
Good afternoon, y'all,
given that my last (non-)PSA from two weeks ago
ended up underestimating that event for the foothills (up to and over
10" above 8.000' at least in Boulder County from January 23rd - 27th), I
decided to be more optimistic with the pattern-change coming starting
tomorrow. There are some similarities and difference between that event
and the one coming our way currently - a surface high will build down
from Canada, but it will be quite a bit weaker than its predecessor, a
Pacific storm system will come at us from the southwest in bits and
pieces, but this one should be followed by at least two more storms in
its wake, leaving us more 'unsettled' and wintery well into next
As usual, the devil is in the detail, and total
snow/precipitation amounts for this weekend will depend critically on
the amount of upslope at lower levels, 'spill-over' moisture, and on how
fast we can overcome the initial dryness at lower levels to keep falling
precipitation just evaporating before hitting the ground. The initial
upslope surge from the north is just getting ready to cross from Canada
into Montana/North Dakota and should get by around noon tomorrow.
Moisture from the Pacific storm has been hung up in California so far,
but should start moving into the Four Corner's region by tomorrow night,
while the upslope surge in conjunction with 'advantgarde-moisture'
from the southwestern storm should allow for an
early shot of snow in the foothills of Boulder and Larimer County in
particular by tomorrow evening. Will be interesting to watch when the
clouds will lower/snow will begin (if at all) tomorrow evening, because
that will be an early indicator of how much moisture is available for
this system. There have been model runs that put down 3-6" overnight
into Sunday for some lucky folks in this region, but the latest runs
have backed off from that scenario, for now. Little if any moisture
should spill-over all the way into the plains, and would have a hard
time sticking to the surface after this warm week.
After a lull in the action, Sunday afternoon
will see the transition of this storm system from Arizona into New
Mexico from where it will lift northeastward into the Great Plains. We
should stay in a weak southeasterly upslope situation until Sunday
evening before we get onto the backside of this storm as it passes to
our south and east. Tough call on how much snow (and possibly rain in
the lowest elevations) will fall out of the sky by then - the weather
service is hedging with 0-3" in the foothills and a 40% chance of
rain/snow mixed in the plains. No matter what, the plains will probably
be too warm during the day for it to stick, and by the time it cools
off, the precipitation should be over (late on Sunday). Interestingly,
the weather service gives the foothills a range of 1-11" for the full
time frame Saturday evening until Monday morning, I guess they have also
noticed the large amounts of snow we saw two weeks ago...
I will update this on Monday, if the next storm
(on Tuesday) looks promising, and storm #3 looks like it will get here
about a week from today -
Have a good weekend, winter is far from over -
Updated outlook for Xmas
Mon 12/22/2008 11:33 PM
Quick update to our current situation:
1. Incoming storm looks like yet another good
one for the mountains WEST of the Divide, especially the Elk Range and
San Juans. We will have our shot at snow tomorrow, but even the most
optimistic model has now backed off on the amounts, so we are looking at
yet another 'Trace-2" non-event around here, and at least a replacement
of the airmass, it was getting a bit stagnant today;
2. Xmas eve/day (Wed-Thu): in between storms,
starting out cold on Wednesday, Thursday now looks like the warmest day
of the week again, should break freezing almost everywhere below 9,000'.
3. Friday-Saturday and beyond: another quick
moving storm will hit us from the west, dropping most of its moisture
west of here, and dragging down some pretty cold air from our neighbors
to the north (-west) - this looks like the last hurrah of this whole
sequence, both in terms of snow and cold, - another T-2" event for us,
and near 0F lows Friday night, followed by mild weather into the New
Year (or so it seems right now - I won't be able to send out an update
later this week).
4. Bigger picture: the storm that will hit us
tomorrow will bring a major rainstorm to the east coast by about
Wednesday night, after dropping another load of snow on the Midwest; if
you want to escape all this weather, southern Texas sounds like a pretty
safe bet, and southern California by about Friday. The Pacific
Northwest will moderate over the course of this week, with lots of rain
on top of the snow that has fallen this month, kind of depressing if you
like snow, but a relief for regions with 'low snowplow density'...
Happy Holidays, at least, December has tried to
make up for a 'lost' fall season - Klaus
Postmortem on last nine days or so: plenty of cold weather, but not too
much snow after the initial push, a bit of a disappointment I have to
admit! Impressive inversions in the wake of both weekend arctic
incursions - high foothills were 10F or more warmer than the plains
today (and a week ago)!
From Klaus / Fri
12/19/2008 4:44 PM
I will be briefer than usual. Another arctic front is working its way
thru Wyoming right now, quite similar in intensity to last weekend's
version. Less moisture to work with this time, but a drop of 30F in a
few hours (as observed in Cody and Buffalo earlier
today) is nothing to
sneeze at either. While the weather service had been backing off on
snowfall chances and even temperatures thru this morning's forecast,
they have now come around to giving this arctic front its due. This
translates into a 40% chance of up to 1"
both tonight and tomorrow
for places like Boulder, and a few inches for the higher foothills.
While the initial front
will arrive tonight, the coldest air may not get here until tomorrow
evening. Sub-zero lows are possible/likely in the plains/foothills by
The coldest air will retreat eastward from Sunday to Monday, making way
for yet another storm that will come in from the west by Tuesday. This
one might be good for more snow for all of us, but it is being hurried
along by yet another storm on its heels that is now trying to get here
by Xmas. Until last night, forecast models kept holding out for a true
warm-up on that day instead, so this is a new development. Stay tuned, I
will update this/issue a PSA#4 on Monday, if this looks more promising
than right now.
One more note: the cold snap earlier this week was more severe (on the
expected, in fact, Denver set (or equaled) three daily (low) temperature
records in a row, something we have not seen in a while. The arctic air
surging back in by tomorrow looks to be of similar intensity as the
originally forecast arctic air one week ago. So, don't be surprised if
we plunge below currently advertised values by Sunday morning, pretty
much everybody has enough snow on the ground to allow for that to
happen, and these shallow arctic airmasses have been 'misunderestimated'
several times in the last few months...
Happy Holidays, snow-covered ground is virtually guaranteed until at
least Christmas eve, and maybe more from me by Monday -
Update to PSA#3 Mon
12/15/2008 4:49 PM
Good afternoon, y'all,
I hope your winter gear has been in working order the last two days,
very impressive temperatures in the plains, especially east of Boulder,
but cold everywhere. Have not had a chance to check this, but today
might have been the coldest December day since 1990 for quite a few
places. Snowfall totals with the arctic front were just about what I
expected, with widespread 2-6" amounts.
There is another 'upper air disturbance' taking
aim at us, very impressive jet streak with 180mph or more shifting
across us tonight, allowing for a lot of lift in the right places - the
San Juans might get three feet of snow out of this by tomorrow evening!
Unfortunately, the general wind direction aloft
will be from the southwest, while surface winds will be from the
southeast. This is a drying combination for most of us, but could be
good for a surprise in Larimer County. Models are having a hard time
'spilling' the associated moisture with the incoming storm across the
divide, and it is almost a leap of faith to assume that the strong
dynamical forcing will overcome this handicap. The strong jet streak
may also induce some fairly narrow southwest/northeast snowbands that
could favor some places over others by an order of magnitude.
The weather service is now going for smaller
amounts than in its earlier forecast renditions - 1-2" for Boulder (1-3"
for Fort Collins), and 3-6" for the foothills, vs. 8-18" west of
Peak-to-Peak highway. I am not going to quibble with the lower
elevations amounts - except for Fort Collins, where I think that 4" are
possible, but the higher foothills could see more than 3-6", if one of
those snowbands ends up sitting over some lucky recipients...
I think that the highest reports from the
foothills could reach 8" or higher by tomorrow evening (speaking of
which, I always welcome snowfall reports, especially if you are not
reporting to CoCoRAHS already).
Then a break until the next round of snow for us
around Wednesday night/Thursday, too early to get too excited about that
one. An impressive reinforcement / reestablishment of our arctic siege
is lining up for around Saturday, but more on that later this week.
Unless the mid-week storm looks to beat the next 24h-event, I won't
update this until then. The mountains will continue to see off and on
snow all this week, and quite possibly beyond, yeah!
P.S.: The arctic air will erode somewhat over
the next five days, but places like Greeley, and even Longmont (and DIA)
will remain in a much deeper freeze than Boulder. I don't think we will
see temperatures like last night until this weekend, but there is
potential for even lower temperatures around that time - stay tuned!
PSA#3 - a foot possible
totaled over next week
Fri 12/12/2008 3:47 PM
Good afternoon, y'all, as mentioned in my last
PSA from Monday, we are looking at a good-sized arctic airmass marching
our way, with a strong cold front to hit Saturday night into Sunday.
This initial front is not modeled to produce more than a few inches of
snow for us, but my experience is that such arctic fronts are sometimes
stronger (wetter) than predicted, and they tend to produce pretty fluffy
snow in the lower elevations, if the upslope lingers. The temperature
change will be drastic, with temperatures having a hard time staying
above 10F on Sunday (in the plains) compared to 40s tomorrow.
After the initial snow is over, we might clear
out enough over fresh snow to get the coldest temperatures of the season
so far - below 0F in the higher foothills, and close to it even in
Boulder. Monday through Friday have no big storm in the offing, but we
should continue to see occasional spill-over snow from the west, with
the arctic air firmly entrenched thru the period, albeit warming a
little bit each time we get some of the westerly flow to break thru and
warm us up. Right now I think that the best bets for additional snow
are on Tuesday and on Thursday, with the latter having the potential for
more snow than the first one. Tough call on amounts or even
temperatures thru the period since models always have a hard time
getting the details right east of the mountains in such a situation.
Bottomline: I expect to see 6-12" of (mostly
fluffy) snow from Sunday thru Friday, very little melting, and more snow
in the foothills than below. Did I mention that the mountains west of
here are going to get clobbered?! If you have a chance to go skiing,
try to get there before Sunday, the roads will be tough going, and it
should more or less continuously almost anywhere in the Colorado Rockies
- the weather service is calling for 1-2 feet with the first storm
alone, and the follow-up storms should keep it going thru the week (with
milder temperatures than here in the East). If I see cleared amounts on
the horizon early next week, I will update this, but don't count on it.
Think snow, we are still playing catch-up -
Postmortem on PSA#2:
this time the fortunes were reversed - Fort Collins and
vicinity barely got an inch or two, while 8-12" were common from Boulder
southwestward into the foothills of Jefferson County. All in all I
underestimated the moisture with this one (many places had 0.5" or
more), but at least I was more optimistic than the wx service.
Speaking of which, the latest forecast just came
out and goes for up to 6" in the foothills (from Saturday into Sunday),
and up to 4" near Boulder - fair enough.
PSA#2 (just barely, yet
again) Mon 12/8/2008 4:04 PM
Good afternoon, y'all, while this storm will hit
harder to our south, I believe it will be quite messy from about 5pm to
around midnight. Due to the dry boundary layer earlier today, we are
currently waiting for the falling precipitation to moisten up the air
closer to the ground, but this should happen rather quickly within the
next few hours. This is a complicated system, with a piece of energy
that snuck in from the southwest (hence the 8" reported from Silverton
Mountain this afternoon), a good solid coldfront that just came in from
the north (hence the 4mb pressure rise in the last 3h at Foothills Lab),
and the prospect of decent northeasterly (upslope) flow for the next 8h
or so. Midlevel temperatures are dropping rapidly, but should reside in
the favorable -10C to -15C range to give us good crystal growth to make
for fluffy snow this evening. So, even though this will be a quick
storm, and I would be pleasantly surprised to see more than 1/4" of
moisture out of this around here, I believe that the southern foothills
do indeed have a shot at close to a foot of fluff (maybe 0.5" of H2O),
and we might see a few hours of moderate-to-heavy snowfall rates this
evening. Bottomline for Front Range cities: 2-4" near Fort Collins,
3-6" near Boulder, and more as you go south; Foothills: 4-8" in Boulder
(and Larimer) Counties, 6-12" to the south. Next chance for a little
snow: Thursday into Friday (not PSA-worthy), bigger potential: this
weekend into early next week, with some arctic air thrown into the mix -
watch out for PSA#3! Think snow - the mountains should be good for at
least the same as the foothills!
P.S.: And here are the weather service totals,
hot off the press (3:49pm officially):
BOU: 2-5" (= Denver)
BOU/LAR foothills: 2-4" (beats me!)
JEFCO&south foothills: 4-8"
Quick postmortem PSA#1/quick
heads-up for Monday, potentially another PSA-worthy event
Fri 12/5/2008 5:42 PM
Good afternoon, y'all, while the initial cold front did not bring
much moisture for us, the 2nd stage (yesterday) delivered the goods
almost everywhere, with the area west of Fort Collins doing the best
(there were some 12"+ storm totals!), and Estes Park barely reaching the
4" I predicted. Almost everyone received at least1/4" moisture which was
sorely needed. Another storm is taking aim at us for Monday (into
Tuesday), with lots of uncertainty surrounding the exact track and
timing this far out, but it should be good for snow up and down the
Front Range, and I would be disappointed if we ended up with less than a
few inches either.Watch for an update/PSA#2 on Monday morning, think
snow! - Klaus
2008 PSA#1 (best case
scenario) for December 3rd&4th
Good afternoon, y'all,
the weekend "storm" ended up distributing the
snow very unevenly, with some of us getting less than 1" total, while
others wallowed in more than half a foot, and this is from north of
Golden to Fort Collins (not to mention almost two feet near Castle Rock
and almost four feet at Loveland!). Sad to say, the 'snow-shadow' of
Longs Peak proved too much for my neck of the woods, so northern Boulder
County foothills did very poorly.
As advertized last week, the next two days are
shaping up for some more winter weather, with a very dramatic
temperature drop from today to tomorrow (it will be more than 30F colder
in the plains than today!), and at least some moisture/lowlevel upslope
flow/upper level dynamics to play with. Big differences between
different models, with today's information being more 'optimistic'
(snowy) than earlier runs. What makes this interesting is that there
are TWO chances for snow in the next 60h - first the front tonight
(which has a good history of dropping a few inches at low elevations
upstream (Montana, and now northern Wyoming)), and then a prolonged
low-level upslope/upper level westerlies 'tug-of'war' that should bring
us more snow on Thursday.
I just saw the weather service forecasts, and
they give themselves a very wide range to play with (this is for
foothills between 6-9K): 1-2" tonight, "up to 3" tomorrow", "up to 2"
tomorrow night", and another "up to 3" on Thursday - so, expect anywhere
from 1-10" before this is done! Joking aside (and noting the natural
tendency to make a really good forecast for the LAST storm), here is my
take on this:
1. Good coldfront is moving our way, and should
hit late evening/overnight. This should be good for all snow from the
get-go, even in the plains, and should get cold enough by morning to
drop some nice fluffy snow around that time.
of moisture possible, I would expect reports
from 2-4" in most places (more than the weather service forecast), and
some nasty road conditions after today's warmth.
2. Tomorrow evening should have clear enough
skies to freeze the remaining snow into a solid 'base' that should
protect the new snow from melting much from below.
I would not be surprised to see upper 10sF in
the plains with this, and maybe 10F lower in the higher foothills.
3. Next round of snow should commence overnight
into Thursday and should bring just about as much snow as the first one:
2-4" for most, with a slight preference for the foothills (in both
cases). All in all, 4-8" is in the cards with this one.
4. West of Peak-to-Peak highway should see less
of an interruption of snowfall tomorrow evening, and remain windier
throughout - avalanche danger will remain high for several days. This
is definitely a system that should favor the NORTHERN Front Range, so we
should not see big snow reports from the Palmer Divide, etc.
If the snow stays fluffy throughout, some lucky
folks could see a foot of snow by Thursday evening, especially since we
could have some snowbands setting up and remaining stationary for a
while, apparently not in the same places as last time (wind direction is
different). Too hard to call where they should set up, however.
5. Caveats: after a near-record dry November,
it might just take a little more upslope to moisten us up than usual -
if the initial surge/front fizzles out before getting to us, that
initial hump could really hurt us tonight. And Thursday's 'overrunning'
event could still set up more to our north&east, as the weather service
was still playing it yesterday. So, there is potential for another dud,
but I believe the odds are in our favor this time around.
Beyond Thursday, nothing on the horizon until
early next week, so the lower elevations will probably lose their snow
again by then.
Here we go, tomorrow could be a messy commute -
think snow, we have a lot of catching up to do -
2007 PSA#9 - mainly above 8,000
feet! Fri 3/23/2007 5:40 PM
Good evening everyone,
I can't believe it has been almost two months since the last PSA
(31jan), but while February remained cold, the snows just 'nickeled and
dimed' us towards a near-normal month, and March has been an
unmitigated disaster so far (from a snow lover's perspective). This is
about to change for folks higher up, flat-landers will have to deal with
a good amount of rain instead! A storm that had dropped into the Baha
region over the last few days is now 'yoyo-ing' back towards us, and
should pass right over us within the next 24h. The first (big) December
snow was a bit like that, with the difference being the warmer
temperatures that one gets three months later, but the subtropical
moisture source, and the forward speed of this storm is quite
comparable. Low-level easterlies have already started to blow towards
the Front Range, and a lot of moisture is coming towards us. The main
low is still sitting in southern Arizona, but a piece of this storm is
quickly moving our way along with a jet streak that will put us right
under the left front quadrant - very favorable for enhanced upward
motion! The rumble outside attests to the decent vertical instability
associated with this storm system, so a good amount of rain (0.5-1")
could fall with a few evening thunderstorms that are drifting in from
the south. Almost all the cooling with this storm will come from the
precipitation itself (and associated evaporation from falling
precipitation), since no cold air to speak off is within a long distance
from here - no real cold front in sight! Deep upslope should remain in
place overnight until the upper low tracks either right over northern
Colorado (towards the northeast). It will weaken as it crosses over us,
so the main precipitation will take place by tomorrow morning.Night-time
cooling should slowly lower the snow line from about 10K right now to
possibly 7K by tomorrow morning. While the weather service (and various
forecast models) has been waffling this week on how to call this storm,
they have now issued a winter storm warning for 6-12" in the foothills,
with all rain expected in the plains. I have no overall disagreement
with this forecast, except that the amount of liquid that could fall
over the foothills (Larimer County in particular) could translate into
up to two feet of snow in the highest (east-facing) elevations. I fully
expect to see up to 2" of moisture with this storm, and the earlier it
transitions into snow, the more you going to get.Ironically, the amount
of moisture in the air (dewpoints in the 40s just east of here) is
reducing the "wetbulb-cooling" effect that will bring temperatures down
- if it had been drier to begin with, the cooling might have been
dramatic! Enjoy the first thunderstorm of the season/finally a spring
storm, and, maybe, a foot or more of heavy wet snow above 8K - it will
warm right back up early next week, ahead of the next storm that looks
like bora right now (should be good for powder west of the divide,
though, most likely on Wednesday) -Klaus
P.S.: El Niño is dead, long live theanti-correlation tendency of wet
Aprils to follow dry Marches, such as in 1995, 1997, 1999, 2004, and
PSA#8 (=1-2 punch + extreme cold on Friday) Wed 1/31/2007 12:22 AM
I will keep this one short. Today (Wednesday) looks like yet another
"little snow storm" day that will nevertheless pack a punch since it
will be cold enough to stick all day even in the plains. Temperatures
will be dropping all day, with the potential for sub-zero readings by
midnight/early Thursday in the higher foothills, and just above that in
Boulder et al. Most of the moisture that we will wring out from the
clouds should fall in the form of fluffy dendrites. Therefore, I am
going for 3-6" even in the lower elevations, with the potential for a
few inches more in the foothills with good north(eastern) exposure. The
more interesting situation will set up for Thursday night with a true
arctic cold front that will usher in sub-zero temperatures for most of
Friday both in the plains and foothills (yes, I am going colder than
most other forecasts out there). Depending on a couple of factors that
are not settled yet (how much spill-over of the arctic air to the west
slope, how much moisture is left in same region to be blown over the
dome of cold air that will set up for a day or so, how fast the front
rushes in & through), we might wake up on Friday to not only sub-10F
readings in the higher foothills and sub-zero in the plains, but also
another 2-6" of snow. Right now it looks like the cold air will only
hang in for a day in the foothills and maybe two days along the Front
Range (Saturday should be warmer in any case, although the wind chill
may make this warm-up miserable higher up), with warmer (and dry)
conditions into next week, but the models have been quite fickle about
this, so the amount of warming will depend very much on how much
westerly flow we will get to flush the cold air eastward (say, to
Greeley). Would not be surprised if we stay at or just below normal
early next week rather than a true Chinook situation. What a winter!
And, yes, this arctic snap is NOT typical for El Niño winters (despite a
couple of precedents in '72-3). Meanwhile, might as well cheer on our
attempt to set all kinds of seasonal snowfall records (more on that in
my next PSA/postmortem) -
PSA#7 (don't blame the
messenger!) Thu 1/4/2007 5:03 PM
I will keep this one short, too busy to do this one justice, and it
won't be as big as the last two. Another eight days have passed, and it
is time for yet another storm. This one is a fast mover, it has a very
impressive jet streak (>150mph) associated with it, and we should have a
few hours under the left front flank of it later tonight (good setup for
heavy snow showers). A cold front is trying to slip right in from the
north, there is plenty of moisture around (recycled from melting snow in
recent days?!), and we should have at 6-12h of decent upslope starting
right around midnight.
for jet-induced showers that could streak out onto the plains, we should
keep most of the snow right against the foothills, more or less like the
last storm. I am expecting 6-12" from Boulder westward, with some lucky
(?) folks measuring up to 18" by tomorrow around noon. If you get 2"+/h
sometime after midnight, you might sit underneath one of those heavier
snow bands, and end up with those higher amounts.
Since this will be mostly overnight, and fairly cold air should get
entrained by tomorrow, there won't be any rain this time.
Happy Snowy New Year!
P.S.: No time for long postmortem, but here is a nice web site to see
snowfall totals for the last two storms (yours truly is NOT the snowiest
location on these maps, believe it or not).
P.P.S.: We are on record-pace for seasonal snowfall totals, in many
locales exceeding the '97-98 pace in particular, and already ahead of
last year's seasonal totals, and we are not even at the usual half-way
PSA #6 - on record snow&PSA-pace... Wed
12/27/2006 3:48 PM
Wow, here we go again, just eight days after the last HISTORIC December
snow, here is another storm knocking at our door, and it has the
potential to give us almost as much snow as the last one! If you can't
get 'ready' today, you may have most of the morning tomorrow to run
last-minute errands. Given the state of our roads right now, it will
take less snow than last time to create poor to impassable road
Hopefully, DIA has gotten some of the cobwebs shaken off, and is better
prepared for the next storm...
This storm is coming on a more traditional, if slightly southern, track
at us, including a (south-of) Four Corners low at higher levels, and
with slightly less moisture to begin with (although a moisture plume
from the eastern Pacific appears to be feeding into it already). It will
start fairly mild tomorrow morning (if you see any precipitation in the
plains in the morning, it might be mixed rain/snow!), but will wrap in
colder air than in the last storm by Friday. What makes this storm quite
unusual (aside from being a spring-like storm in December!) is that a
second short wave will drop in from the north on Friday, which should
slow down the progression of the main storm to the point of feeding yet
another moisture plum from the Gulf of Mexico back into our region by
Friday evening, giving us a good 'back-wash' scenario.
Of course, this
scenario, while quite possible, is not 'nailed down' just yet. In fact,
situations (of two lows circling each other) are notoriously difficult
to predict, but the potential for a drawn-out snow storm into Saturday
night is quite real, and the fact that the southern storm is much bigger
than the northern wave dropping in argues that there may be less
uncertainty than usual.
Bottomline: foothills might see some early snows starting tomorrow
morning, but the heavier snow should hold back until around (or even
be 12h period or so of moderate-to-heavy snow into tomorrow night, with
a fairly pronounced focus on the (northern) foothills and adjacent
plains rather than far out east - we will have less moisture to work
with, and there appears to be more of a direct (easterly) upslope
component. This first batch of moisture should be good for at least a
foot of snow from Boulder westward, with some favored spots approaching
two feet of fairly fluffy snow by Friday morning. Friday should see
lingering snow showers while we wait for the 'backwash' to kick in. Even
if this second part of the storm fizzles/misses us, the snow from
Thursday into Friday morning should be sufficient to make this the
snowiest/wettest December since 1913. If the prolonged 'backwash'
into Saturday evening comes through on top of this, we could see another
foot or so to round out a December that might rival or even displace
December 1913 as the snowiest and wettest winter month (Dec-Feb) in
recorded Front Range history.
In terms of impacts of tomorrow's snow, I am concerned that less snow
than last time might make for comparable impacts - the roads are not
completely cleared, and while the winds won't be as strong as with the
last storm, drifting snow on the eastern plains might create big snow
drifts anchored by remaining snow berms along the roadways.
I may not 'get around' (literally) to update this tomorrow, so enjoy
this one (if you can), and think of the good skiing conditions we should
see well into spring (in the higher foothills) after this storm!
Happy New Year('s snow) -
P.S.: Almost everybody had two to three feet of snow in the last storm,
rivaling or even exceeding (Boulder northward) the Xmas'82 benchmark.
Only 1913 saw more snow in December! Larger variations in melted totals
than snow fall totals, and I can think of two reasons for that: 1. There
was a lot of wind on the plains (and even some foothills) with the last
storm, so smaller gages in particular were 'undercatching' the snow; 2.
If you tried to follow the 'Nolan Doesken approach' of measuring as few
times as possible per day, you had to deal with crowning of the gages,
or even overspill. And then there was DIA, reporting UNDER 1" of liquid
from a 20" blizzard - no way! But this keeps their ranking as one of the
driest years on record going...
Update #2 - PSA5 - biggest December snow in 19 years?! Tue 12/19/2006
Good morning, y'all,
while I am not 'seeing the white in the eye of the storm' just yet,
indications are very good for a rare December 'dump' in the Front Range.
This is actually perfectly consistent with El Niño, despite some of the
media reports you may have been
hearing: we often get 'schizophrenic' winter months with El Niño, where
nothing happens for weeks on end, only to be followed by big snow storms
even in mid-winter (spring is another story, for another PSA). It has
been a while since we have had such a big 'El Niño storm' in December,
but we saw two of them in the '80s, the infamous Xmas blizzard of '82
being the first one (two feet even in Denver, but almost nothing in Fort
Collins), and just after Xmas in '87, when more than a foot fell in and
around Boulder, in a storm eerily similar to the one that I am expecting
for tomorrow (yes, weather history can repeat itself!).
The storm that battered the Pacific Northwest last week swept through
Colorado on Sunday, dropping up to 9" around Estes Park, 2-4" from my
neighborhood to Allenspark, and next to nothing in Boulder and
Nederland, is currently reorganizing over Arizona.
It is expected to 'yo-yo' back into our state by tomorrow morning, with
the potential for a deep upslope storm from tomorrow morning into
Thursday morning. Ahead of it, we may see a few snow showers drifting in
from the south today and tonight, but it should not amount to more than
a reminder to get your errands done today. There is a slight chance that
heavier snow band will pass through later this evening, but it should
not be mistaken for the main storm.
Moderate to heavy snowfall rates (1"+/h) may hold back until late
morning tomorrow, but could start as early as before sunrise, sorry
about that uncertainty. It should last for at least 12h, but has the
potential to continue well into tomorrow night, depending on how slow
the cutoff low will leave the 'sweet spot' in SE Colorado, which in turn
will depend on the next storm's speed and track upstream. Backwash snow
bands should keep us at least cloudy with occasional flurries on
Thursday, before the next round of snow comes in some time on Friday.
How much are we going to get? Consensus of most models is now from over
0.5" of moisture (respectable for any December snow) to almost 2" in the
'best-case' scenario, with strong upslope flow through at least 18h.
Thus, everyone in NE Colorado should see at least half a foot all the
way out to Kansas, but Boulder/Denver/DIA (!) have a good chance of
seeing a foot or more. Flights in and out of DIA may see minor impacts
through tonight/early tomorrow, but might get bogged down by noon or so.
spots in our foothills (northeastern exposures should do best) have a
shot at measuring two feet by Thursday morning. If all the ingredients
come together, with lingering upslope and just the right temperatures
for fluffy dendrites near the end of the storm, I would not be suprised
to see even higher amounts.
What could go wrong? Yesterday's U.S. models advertized the 'evil twin'
version of this storm, with placement too far to the east, and deepening
low pressure giving us the dreaded northwesterly downslope flow pattern.
But even that scenario gave us 3-6"
of snow (which is still the weather service line this morning, watch
them upgrade this storm to much higher amounts later today...).
No really cold air to entrain, so plain 'vanilla'
cold through the rest of the week, the
plains might even see above freezing when the sun peaks through off and
on, but no real melting either. Given the school break, foothill roads
may remain barely plowed through Xmas (and we won't seen any melting at
all up there, just plain settling).
If I don't send out another PSA before Xmas, expect only snowfall
amounts through early next week, guaranteeing snow on the ground, and
even a small chance for some snow falling again Sunday/Monday as well.
Update #1 to PSA#5 Sat 12/16/2006 4:15 PM
looks like "Stage 1" of this storm is going to be a bit late, and weaker
than hoped for yesterday. I still think that everyone on this PSA-list
will see some snow between about midnight tonight (northern foothills)
and early Monday morning.
My best guess
right now would be 1-3" in lower elevations, and 2-5" in foothills,
enough to make it look wintery again. Due to the banded snowfall
patterns with this storm, some lucky folks could still see more than
that, again, more in the foothills of Larimer County than further south.
Then a lull in the action, but remaining chilly (with a little day-time
melting at lower
elevations) on Monday and Tuesday, while we are waiting for the main
While Stage 1 looks somewhat diminished, Stage 2, the cutoff low to lift
out through Colorado around Wednesday is still on track! That one could
be good for some fairly intense snowfall, watch for Update #2 ,
hopefully with PSA-worthy forecast amounts!
Another storm appears to be taking aim on us just under a week from now,
but it is too early to get excited about that one. However, if all of
the above pans out, a White Xmas with more than half a foot of snow on
the ground is in the cards for the plains, even though it does not look
like any fresh snow will fall after next Saturday.
Tentative PSA #5 Fri 12/15/2006 5:51 PM
interesting weather situation unfolding for the next five days or so.
Very wide range of possible outcomes, anywhere from just a few flakes to
more than a foot all the way down to plains by next Thursday. The
wettest scenario bears more than a passing resemblance to the Xmas'87
storm, for those that remember that one.
The same storm that has pounded the Pacific Northwest in the last two
days is working its way inland, and is starting a complicated sequence
of 'ripples in the flow' that will impact us both this weekend and early
into next week. In fact, we have a decent chance to get hit by the same
storm twice, since a lot of energy gets dropped into the bottom of the
trough after the initial short wave passes over us (or, unfortunately,
to the north, as the latest models want us to believe), leading to a
cutoff low near Baha (!) that will later on lift out, and could hit us
again around Tuesday/Wednesday if the ECMWF track holds up.
So, the broad-brush scenario is that a cold front will sag south over
the next 48h, giving the lower elevations upslope flow by tomorrow
evening, but it will have a hard time getting deeper, fighting the
150mph winds at the jet stream level will blow from the southwest from
tomorrow evening through most of Sunday. This pattern often results in
more or less stationary precipitation (snow) bands that give one area
much more snow than another one, generally favoring Larimer County over
Boulder County, for instance. Too early to tell whether we will just a
few flurries by Sunday evening, or somewhere in the vicinity of 4-8" as
last night's models were predicting. Cold air will cover us early next
week (below freezing day-time highs in the foothills, but hardly anyone
will see below 0F). Then the suspense about the cutoff low track - will
history repeat itself as on December 26th, 1987, with a good snow storm
on Tuesday/Wednesday, or will it miss us? Stay tuned!
Hope you enjoyed today's warm weather, not to be repeated at least past
Xmas - I will update this forecast on Saturday if I see clearer which
way we are heading -
Think snow/season's greetings!
P.S.: PSA#4 verified nicely with about 6-18" up and down the Front
Range. A more reliable start to the winter snowpack than the October
snows. Low temperatures dipped down to near 0F in the plains, and near
-10F higher up. If this El Niño winter continues true to form, those
cold days in late November/early December might have been the coldest
for the season!
PSA # 4 Tue. Nov 28
2006 1:31 PM
hard to believe it has been more than a month since my last PSA, but
even my 'trigger-happy' pre-Thanksgiving forecast self did not find it
worthwhile to mention a "very small chance for flurries" last week. The
incoming storm will be more noteworthy for its wintery character than
snow totals, although there is another uncertainty/smaller-scale jet
dynamics to give us an outside chance to reach the magic foot by
tomorrow. Cold air has been "festering" over central Alaska for
most of November, in an odd repeat of last year's pattern (despite El
Niño), and has finally shifted into the Yukon and points south over the
last few days. This is an exceptionally cold air mass for so early in
the season, with numerous -40F to -50F reports (well to the north of the
border). Sub-zero air has now spilled all the way through Montana,
single numbers cover northern Wyoming, while we are still hanging on to
above-freezing temperatures for a few more hours. While the arctic high
air pressure is starting to nose into our state, a surface low is now
setting up over southeastern Colorado (close to Pueblo), and our wind
has shifted to the northeast. Unfortunately, there is a batch of really
dry near-surface air being brought in that will reduce our snowfall
chances (in lower elevations) for at least another 3-6h, but the
deepening upslope flow (not as intense as I would like to see) should
overcome this handicap, while higher-level moisture should keep us
cloudy for the rest of the day. While the coldest air of the season is
waiting to spill into our backyard, it will have to come across a pretty
long fetch of bare ground (most of eastern WY), and the actual duration
of upslope will be 1-2 days at best, opening the door for modification
starting already tomorrow night.
Meanwhile, much of the cold air has
spilled across the divide and dropped snow down to the sea level in
places like Seattle and Portland, feeding into a decent snow storm in
our mountains, with highest ski resort reports from the San Juans
(Silverton: 18" of powder!) as of earlier this morning. As the storm
tracks eastward, mountain snows should start to favor northwestern
exposures more than the current southwestern exposures, so that everyone
west of the divide ends up with more than a foot of powder, followed by
bitter cold, well below zero.
Bottomline for the Front Range below 9K: spill-over snow
coverage will increase in the foothills this afternoon, and should
become steady moderate snow by sunset. Should last through much of the
night, but could wind down before sunrise, depending on how fast the
cold air rushes in. Most of the foothill dwellers should measure 6-12"
by this time tomorrow, with a few lucky folks seeing even higher fluffy
Temperatures will drop the rest of the day, reaching sub-zero lows in
all but the lowest foothills to the south of here. Would not be
surprised to see close to -10F in higher northern foothills, possibly
the coldest of the season in this young El Niño winters. Boulder, Fort
Collins, etc., may not see sticking snow until sunset, but should have
lingering snow into the morning, to the tune of 4-8" is my best guess
right now. Due to cloud cover, low temperatures may not get much below
10F by tomorrow morning. This cold snap will modify tomorrow night, as
we might see a bit of a bora situation, with Boulder hitting its low
close to 5F early in the night, while Longmont and other protected lower
elevations could slip down below 0F, given that there is more than a
trace of snow on the ground.
Another short wave will drop in around Saturday, looks weaker for
now, but should reinforce the wintery character of our weather (higher
foothills might stay at or below freezing for more than a week from
today), followed by another, potentially PSA-worthy storm about a week
P.S: Temperatures may drop low enough by tomorrow morning to render the
liquid de-icer useless, so watch your driving tomorrow morning in
particular (hope you have not forgotten to drive in snow after our long
P.P.S.: The PSA3 storm in late October delivered in spades, lots of
1'-2' reports, with the highest numbers from Nederland southward. It
capped an exceptionally snowy October, surpassed only by 1997 in higher
foothill elevations. Too bad we had such warm and dry spells in
November, otherwise this could have been a record-early onset of winter
snow pack below 9K!
PSA#3 Wed 10/25/2006 2:04 PM
Good afternoon, everyone,
by now most of you have heard about the impending, quick-hitting snow storm
to crash our Indian Summer weather tonight. Before you get too excited, note
that the storm will (1) last less than 24h, (2) has to bring a lot of moisture
on short notice (current dewpoints are in the 20s around here), and (3) could
easily be too warm well into the night to allow for large accumulations in the
lower elevations. Having said that I have to admit that this one was fun to
watch as it was toying with us, and certainly confused the weather service until
Clearly, we will see at least 0.5" of moisture tonight, but it is not so
clear who will get the most - the upslope component has been advertized as more
northerly than easterly, and if the surface low deepends radially over SE
Colorado, we could see enough downsloping wind from the NNW to keep
Boulder/Foothills on the low end, while DIA/Longmont could see more moisture (9
March 1992 and another one in early January 1992 were both a bit like that,
although the difference in Boulder was between a trace in January and over a
foot in March). In any case, the latest tendencies in the models tell me that
this storm is not bringing in any extra cold air from the north, so that much of
the cooling will have to come through evaporation (from falling snow) and
vertical overturning as the cold air makes its way across the mountains from the
west. So, I would be surprised to see snow in the plains before midnight, and it
might have a very hard time sticking to the roads. Trees are another matter,
however, so there could be some pretty hefty tree damage (power outages?) where the snow
is heavy enough to bring down branches. The good news is that it also seems that
the winds might not be quite as strong as earlier expected - the system is
coming in just a tad slower, and will be just a bit slower kicking out as well,
making for slightly lower wind speeds from the north at the height of the storm.
Bottomline: expect precipitation to commence in the foothills first this
evening, could be light drizzle off an on in the lower elevations, but could
also hold off until midnight. Between about midnight and noon, the bulk of the
precipitation should fall at a good clip (some places will get more than 0.1"/h,
translating into snowfall rates up to 2"/h in the higher elevations). It will be
all snow above 7K, but could remain mixed until the early morning hours in the
lowest elevations. Total snowfall hard to call - if the upslope remains
favorable for more than a few hours, I would expect to see more than a foot in
the higher foothills, but some lower elevations may have trouble measuring more
than an inch or two (typical location for that would be Lyons, for instance).
We should start warming up again by Friday, so this is about as quick as it
gets around here. Roads around DIA could be messy tomorrow morning, since this storm could be
more intense to our south and east! What an exciting month - keep it coming!
P.S.: 9" from the non-PSA last weekend, a great start to the season
PSA # 2 2006/2007
Tue 10/17/2006 11:46 AM
Good morning, everyone,
if you have looked outside in the last hour or
so, you have likely seen some snow flakes,
even down in Boulder, and about 6-8h ahead of
time! Have been holding back on this
one until I could see 'the white in the eye of
the storm', but did not mean to miss the
beginning of the snow. Just goes to show you how
volatile the atmosphere has been
lately - models have had a hard time figuring out
how much moisture to give us, and
how much of it as snow down in the plains.
We will have about 12h of decent upslope flow (up
to just over 10K or so), the air is
obviously already cold enough for snow in the
plains, but it will have a hard time
sticking until sunset. Snowfall rates should
increase between now and then, reaching
1-2"/h in the foothills, and then the whole
short-lived event should more or less
wind down by midnight (earlier to the north/later to the south). We won't have a
real cutoff low to keep things lingering, but a decent overrunning situation
with moisture gliding up from the south, while cold air is (apparently eagerly)
working its way in from the north. Snowfall totals from 6-12" in the foothills
are in line with weather service expectations,
except that I think it will happen
earlier and faster than their original
pronouncements. If the whole system stalls
a bit later tonight, we could have lingering
0.5"/h snowfall rates until the early
morning hours which could boost some lucky folks up to 15" or more, but that is
an outside chance scenario.
In the plains, grassy surfaces (and car tops,
etc.) should see a few inches accumulate
(I guess for some this is the first snow of the
season), and temperatures should
plunge well below freezing by tomorrow morning. If it clears out as early as I
expect, higher foothills could see singe degrees F by sunrise tomorrow, while
some places in the lower elevations could dip in the high teens (most will just
get solidly into the 20s). Untreated roads in the lower elevations will become
icy by tomorrow morning, but main roads should be o.k., and will dry out by this
time tomorrow. Higher up, north-facing driveways may set up their winter snow
surface (hope you got your snow tires!) for the season, but only south=facing
exposures may have some icing problems by tomorrow, most others will just become
snow-packed. Again, many higher-elevation roads won't see much melting today, so
the snow could stack up to more than 8" on unplowed roads (just a heads-up for
Finally, the typical El NiÃ±o-October snow connection seems to work (remember
1997 and late October 2002?!), and the pattern is not done either, we could see
a virtual repeat (except for much lower starting temperatures) by Saturday -
P.S.: For those new to this, my rule for issuing
these PSA's is that I have to see
a reasonable chance for a foot of snow in the area of interest before issuing
one, that's why I did not write anything about our 'dud' a week+ ago!
Updated PSA#1 - looks like the "dry" scenario wins!
Thu 9/21/2006 6:34 PM
As I was saying - it is almost never a good sign when the weather service
jumps the gun... Wave #1 has passed and dropped up to an inch of rain just south
of Denver, leaving Boulder and Larimer County with 0.2", more or less, and no
snow below 9K.
Wave #2 is taking aim at us, and it looks like the upslope scenario is becoming
less and less likely. A few spill-over snow showers higher up and certainly
another cool down is on tap for Friday and Saturday, but no big dump below 9K.
Don't get me wrong, I could see some areas (especially with northern exposure)
getting a few inches of snow between now and Saturday morning (there is enough
jet dynamics around to allow for a few northwest-southeast oriented stripes of
heavier precip), and the snowline should lower to 8K by tomorrow morning, and
6K(+/-) by Saturday morning, but the amounts just aren't there to get too
excited about this. Different story west of Peak-to-Peak highway where the
mountains should get a decent spill-over event with a foot of snow or more by
Oh well, it is very hard to get a decent snow storm during El Niño Septembers
(last 2"+ September snow of this type in Boulder was in 1965!), quite contrary
to what often happens in October (remember 2002 and 1997?!). Should have trusted
my statistics rather than the (more optimistic) forecast models...
But we are going to have yet another cold (early) weekend, and there is a
distinct chance for a freeze both Saturday and Sunday morning down to the
Until the next PSA, hopefully before November -
First PSA of the 2006-07 season
/ Wed 9/20/2006 8:35 PM
after a few flurries above 8K last Saturday, it looks like the higher foothills
may get some measurable snow both late tonight as well as from late Thursday
into early Saturday, with the latter storm lowering the snow levels to the lower
The weather service has just come out with a winter storm watch for the second
period in the higher foothills, never a good sign so early in the game...
Complicated weather pattern evolving right now, with a leading wave coming from
the west, very similar to last weekend - good for snow WEST of the divide and
some spill-over to the east, aided by good vertical (in)stability and a brief
potential period of upslope (northeasterly) flow tonight.
However, we are starting out with a very dry airmass, and a surface low that
might deepen too rapidly over southeastern Colorado, thus tweaking our upslope
flow to a more northerly direction (ending up with less moisture). This might be
one reason that there is a large spread in the model forecast precipitation for
tonight, depending on when the model run was started (four per day) and which
model is used.
IFFF we are lucky, this could be good for a few hours of moderate to heavy snow
8K) and get us off to a good start.
The second, more important storm is dropping in from a more northerly direction,
dragging in colder air, and leading to a more prolonged period of precipitation
for us from tomorrow night (or so) into Friday, maybe Saturday. Still lots of
question marks on that one as well, not least because it could interact
(negatively) with the first wave - if the first one deepens too much and slows
down, we could get a longer period of downslope winds tomorrow, reducing our
moisture potential yet again.
However, it has the potential of producing deep upslope flow from the northeast
(not quite a full cutoff low circulation for us, since the main low parks itself
over the norther plains), which could lead to 24h or so of moderate to heavy
snow above 7K or so.
Since I probably won't have time to update this until tomorrow evening, here are
the two bottomline scenarios for now:
1. DRY: occasional sprinkles tonight, with a few flurries late above 8K, gusty
winds from a northerly (to northwesterly) direction later tonight, as the cold
front passes. Blustery Thursday, but mostly dry all day. Thickening clouds
tomorrow evening, but only weak upslope (if any). Mixed rain/snow showers on
Friday above 7K, totaling less than half an inch of moisture from now until
Saturday morning. No snow in the plains or lower foothills.
2. WET: good showers with front tonight, rapidly changing to snow above 7.5K,
with some damage to weaker fully-leafed aspen (have no idea how much the recent
aspen disease outbreak has weakened the affected trees, but almost all leaves
are still up below 9K). Some lucky and intrepid observers could measure half a
foot by tomorrow morning (not on open ground, just grassy areas). Still mostly
dry around midday tomorrow, but cool enough for some of the snow to survive the
day (in the shade/where the ground is not too warm). Lower elevations might get
some good rain showers, even with the potential for a late evening thunderstorm
with the front.
Tomorrow night things could get interesting: if the precipitation gets heavy
reasonably early AND we have good upslope flow, snow might mix in down to the
lowest elevations by Friday morning (although the odds are much better for
Friday night). Heavy snow is possible for the higher foothills, a real foot of
wet snow being not out of the question, especially by Saturday morning.
More by tomorrow evening, hopefully not a cancellation...
As always in this first PSA (Public Service
Announcement) of the season, feel free
to let me know if you want to be taken of this mailing list, and report any
significant snow measurements back to me - or tell me which CoCoRAHS observer
Think snow, this season can't be as bad the last one, especially with El Niño
back in the game -
PSA#8 - better late than never! Sun 3/19/2006
Good morning, y'all,
today's moisture (apparently close to half a foot of heavy wet snow in some
foothill locales) was just the harbinger of things to come: a genuine spring
snow storm is coming to town, just in time for the March 2003 (and 1998)
anniversary! While many models anticipated the general idea of a storm hitting
Colorado this weekend, the details remained murky until Saturday, and last
evening's precipitation was actually quite underforecast, so there is still
quite a bit of uncertainty.
Basically, we have a low dropping in on us from the northwest, while a
blocking high is residing near Hudson's Bay, providing us with the necessary
cold air to turn this into snow by tomorrow evening. Moisture is ample, both
from the Pacific aloft, and from the Gulf near the surface. There is a good
chance that this storm will indeed cut off near the Four Corners, giving us
about 12-18h of good upslope flow tonight into Monday, although some of the
highest precipitation totals may fall on the eastern plains (the models are
still waffling on that one). One inch H20 (or more, if you trust the Canadian
meso-scale model) are in store for us, on top of what already fell last evening.
In the foothills (above 6K or so), snow should accumulate off and on through
Sunday AM, with the heaviest snow commencing in the afternoon. In the plains, it
might not be before later in the afternoon that the snow will start to stick (it
should fall as snow almost everywhere). Snow totals by Monday rush hour: easily
8-12" in the foothills, 4-8" in most of the plains (Boulder probably right in
between). "Best case scenario" could drop 12-18" in favored locations (northerly
exposure should help), including possibly the Palmer Divide, but that is outside
my region of interest.
I will be out of town from Monday afternoon until Friday, but there is an
interesting little storm that should pass through about Wednesday. While
undercutting the upper level ridge that is trying to build over us, there is the
possibility that it could briefly cut off and pass to our south which might give
us another chance at more than a few flurries... Compared to last week's storms
(which dropped a total of more than 18" and 1" of moisture on our house), this
one is not as cold (no sub-zero lows!), and the snow will be a lot 'heavier'
(snow/H20 ratio) this weekend than last.
PSA # 7 Sat 3/11/2006 5:58 PM
Good evening,two bouts of snow later, we are still looking at another snowy period from
tonight through tomorrow evening. The snow that is trying to materialize right
now stems from one last ripple in the flow ahead of the main trough lifting out
right over us tomorrow. Does not look like strong upslope flow during this
period, but decent cold air aloft (allowing for good showers during the day-time
tomorrow), good moisture at all levels, and some dynamical forcing due to the
jet stream to our south should allow for off and on moderate snow to continue
for more than 24h.
Since a fair bit of this snow will be forming at favorable temperatures for
dendritic growth (-10/-15C), we could also see some pretty fluffy snow
(yesterday morning's snow was 40:1 in many foothill locations) thrown in. The
joker in this set-up is that as the low lifts out tomorrow, we might get some
good backwash in the PM, which combined with very cold air aloft could allow for
some heavy snow-showers as well. While it probably won't really clear out Sunday
night, we could see a repeat of near-0F in the higher foothills and low 10s in
The weather service is going for 3-6" in Boulder and places north, and 5-15"
in the foothills, with northern locales being favored. I lean towards slightly
higher totals in the plains (it should remain cold enough that untreated roads
will be a mess tomorrow morning/evening), but would agree that the foothills
would be lucky if a foot accumulates. This goes along with about 0.25-0.5" of
moisture, so all in all not quite the moisture relief that I had hoped for
earlier this week.
However, the rebound into milder temperatures should get interrupted mid-week
with yet another system passing thru and affecting mostly the mountains.
Speaking of the mountains, this storm set-up has been kind to the southern
mountains for a change, with Wolf Creek boasting 42" in the last 48h, and they
should get at least another foot by tomorrow evening. The mid-week 'storm'
should revert us to the familiar "northern-central mountains being favored"
pattern. If you can avoid avalanche-prone regions, back-country skiing tomorrow
should be about as wintery as it can get around here (the late calendar date
P.S.: PSA#6 rendered a total of 0.60/11.1" for me from Wednesday thru Friday,
while Niwot Ridge (at C-1) had 0.85/15.6" (thanks, Mark). This is the most snow
I have had since the October snow!
PSA#6 - Update Thu 3/9/2006 6:02 PM
Good evening, y'all,this is a quick update on tomorrow's storm: we are still on for another bout
of day-time snow around here. Main differences to yesterday's snow (which
underperformed somewhat in the foothills but dropped close to 0.5" liquid on
Boulder and other communities close to the foothills): the ground has been
cooled down considerably, so the roads should become snow-covered much faster
than yesterday, the air mass will be colder than yesterday as well, so that this
time there is NO chance of rain, it will be all snow (we had some rain in the AM
below 6K yesterday), and right now it looks like a smaller event, say, from
0.25-0.5" H2O rather than twice the amounts I expected for yesterday. This being
spring-time, who knows we might be lucky and get more than expected for a
change. In any case, tomorrow's totals should reach 2-4" in the plains and 4-8"
in the foothills, with a slight preference for northern locales. The next event
after tomorrow will come in a bit faster than expected, say, around Sunday
morning, and might be good for another PSA, stay tuned! Think snow!- Klaus
P.S.: Since people are reporting less and less to me ( and I encourage you to
report any reasonable snow fall amount you measure, regardless whether I
predicted it or not), you can check county by county snowfall (and moisture)
amounts at the following web site:
Just click on "Maps", and pick what you want to see. For instance, this
morning's reports for Boulder County showed quite a few 0.5" reports from
Boulder, but only two reports at 0.40" for the foothills (the northern one is
PSA # 6 Tue 3/7/2006 5:12 PM
Good afternoon y'all, snow is on its way, and it will feel like winter (again) for at least the
next seven days! There is a storm brewing west of us that should track more or less right over
us tomorrow, and will bring a good chance for moderate to heavy amounts over
much of Colorado (the southeast corner will get the least). Interesting details
to worry about: heaviest precipitation will fall during the day-time for us,
which may leave paved roads in the plains just wet (it should all fall as snow,
however); it looks like a fast mover right now, but it involves a short-lived
cutoff circulation which, if it stalls, could easily double the expected snow
amounts; models are still all over the place with the exact placement of the
heaviest precipitation (anywhere from southeastern WY to the Palmer Divide), but
someone could easily wind up with an inch of moisture out of all this; today's
down slope winds brought in some awfully dry air (yet again) that needs to be
replaced/moistened up which will partially accomplished by seeding from above ('virga'
= wasted precipitation that evaporates into the air below) and from low-level
flow from the north and east that will bring in moister (and colder) air by
Bottom-line: expect snow to begin tomorrow morning (the earlier, the better
in terms of how long it will take to moisten up the atmosphere) and should
fairly showery most of the day; heaviest snow bursts could occur just before
evening rush hour, making for highly variable road conditions. Total amounts
should be highest in the east-facing foothills (the higher, the less wastage to
melting from below) and reach at least 3-6" in the plains and easily twice that
Would not be surprised to see 2"/h for some of the better pockets of snow,
giving totals of up to 18" in best locales. In terms of moisture, most people
should see half an inch or more, giving us a nice break from the fire danger.
The pattern will remain cold and unsettled through the weekend, giving us at
least two more chances for several inches around Friday and early next week (if
I see a chance for another foot, watch our for PSA#7), while temperatures should
remain below freezing through the period above 8K, and with fresh snow lows
could reach near 0F once again. If it all pans out, we might end up with a
normal March's worth of moisture by this time next week!
Think snow, those wild fires have been flaring up way too early!
P.S.: I hope you still have your gloves handy, snow tires on your cars, and
remember to disconnect the garden hoses from their outside faucets.
PSA 5 Update Fri 2/17/2006 5:29 PM
Good evening, minor updates for tonight and this weekend:
1. This air is quite a bit colder than predicted, especially on the plains.
Expect to see lows at or below -5F tonight in the plains and below -10F higher
For Boulder and Denver, the daily records are just a few degrees below 0F, so
we might see a few record lows around here.
2. Today's cold push also came in earlier than advertised (keeping
temperatures in the plains steady or dropping all day with a stiff (feeling)
It has now filled up to at least 9000' feet, but Niwot Ridge is still
'basking' in the 10s right now, and may not drop below zero at all tonight.
Since the cold air came in so early, we have less of an upslope push to work
with this evening, but there still is moisture coming in aloft from the
southwest that should be good for at least a dusting tonight - just don't expect
several inches. Mind you this subtropical moisture fetch is giving Wolf Creek
Pass heavy snow right now - one of the best storms of the season so far!
3. The last bout of snow and cold on Sunday now looks weaker than expected
two days ago, but should keep everyone below freezing and with a final upslope
surge give most of us some light snow.
4. Downsloping flow should return by Monday, but may not be strong enough to
scour out the arctic on the plains (especially in places like Greeley and
Longmont). Of course, the mid-February sun is going to do its part to help us
warm up a few degrees every day. Since there still is the chance for another
cold surge from the north around Wednesday, a rebound into the 50s may have wait
for quite a while.
Let's hope that my snow forecasts are too conservative this time for our
The change to west-northwesterly flow by Monday should resume the favorable
regime for the northern and central mountains next week, although the moisture
fetch does not look too impressive right now.
Have a nice and wintery President's weekend -
P.S.: Two day totals so far are in the 4-8" range from Boulder northward,
with some lower foothill locations slightly above that.
PSA # 5 Wed 2/15/2006 6:18 PM
Good evening, y'all -better late than never, here is tentative PSA for the next five or six days
that promises no big dumps around here, but plenty of winter weather, including
snow off and on through the period, and continuous below freezing temperatures,
reaching close to 0F even in the plains.
Tonight, a storm that has been brewing to our west, and brought overrunning
precipitation to southeastern Wyoming for the last 24h (up to 18" north of
Cheyenne!!!), will make its move across the mountains and give us a few hours of
moderate snow overnight. Since there is a strong jet streak involved, some
east-west oriented heavier bands of snow could bring twice the amount of snow to
some lucky folks, but pretty much everyone should get at least a couple of
inches. The whole storm should also sag from north to south as it translates
across the divide, but northern foothills should on average get more snow than
southern ones (say, south of Boulder). So, by tomorrow morning, some reports
could be up to 10", yet again (although the highest amount I saw last time was
"only" 7.5", with widespread 5"
amounts in western Boulder County - where were the reports from Boulder Heights,
Coal Creek Canyon, and around Estes Park???), while others may only measure 2".
However, it has been cold all day, and should remain cold enough for any snow to
stick around into at least early next week.
A second surge of cold air and upslope flow should materialize on Friday (PM)
and be good for another couple of inches (possibly more in the foothills). And,
finally, the last piece of energy trapped as a cutoff low over the Great Basin
should eject across Colorado in the Sunday/Monday time-frame, and be good for
another round of snow, possibly more than just a few inches. Since I will be out
of town over the weekend, that one will probably be the biggest one...
Considering that arctic air from the Hudson's Bay area has been moving
steadily southwestward and is projected to reach Montana over the next few days,
where it will get well below zero (possibly into the -20s and -30s after highs
in the 50s just three days ago), our expected lows near 0F (o.k., -10F higher
up, if it clears out long enough) are pretty puny in comparison.
Enjoy our return to winter over the next week, it should remain relatively
calm as well, which is a nice change of pace from more than two months of almost
relentless downslope winds!
Think snow -
P.S.: If I see a big change in this scenario by Friday, expect an updated
forecast by then!
PSA # 4 Thu 2/9/2006 4:46 PM
Good evening, y'all -winter is knocking at our door again after a few weeks of warm/windy weather
(although my last PSA verified o.k., especially from Nederland south). We had a
pretty impressive frontal passage around noon, with a 15F drop in a few minutes
and wind gusts up to 40mph
(NCAR) from the northwest. It has taken another four hours or so to cloud
over, and the moisture situation is a bit underwhelming, but should be
sufficient for snow to start in the next few hours.
This is going to be a fairly quick affair, with most of the snow falling
between about 6pm and midnight, and anywhere from 0.1" to 0.5" of moisture,
depending on your locale (eastern plains will get the least, northeastern
exposures the most, probably in lower foothills rather than higher foothills)
and which model you believe. This translates into an inch or two for the least
favored locations and up to 10" of fluff for the lucky winner. There will be
little spill-over into Western Colorado with this storm, for a change. All
models do agree on a very fast temperature drop to near 10F (0F) in the plains
(foothills) by tomorrow morning, and little warming during the day tomorrow. In
fact, the air may be unstable enough to allow for some scattered snow showers to
fall during the afternoon tomorrow as the coldest air passes overhead.
With fresh snow on the ground, the plains should see its lowest temperatures
tomorrow night (close to 0F), while the higher elevations may get too breezy to
drop much below 0F.
Since the air aloft is going to be the coldest since mid-December, some
protected spots higher up could drop below -10F nevertheless.
After a slow warm-up over the weekend (especially if we get more than a
dusting), there is potential for another PSA-worthy event in about a week that
could make tonight's event look wimpy by comparison.
Stay tuned, it looks like winter is not going to remain AWOL for the next
week or two!
Think snow -
P.S.: With all the recent warm weather, I would anticipate some nasty icing
to form by tomorrow morning's rush hour, even on treated surfaces (since the air
temperature will be so low).
PSA # 3
Good morning, y'all,it has been a loooong time since my last PSA, despite some great snows above 9K
in the last two months. Too many downslope wind storms have left even the higher
foothills below par (with the exception of good spill-over pockets like
Nederland and Peaceful Valley), and at the base of the foothills, Boulder and
Fort Collins have not even cracked the one foot seasonal total marker (as of
Meanwhile, our weather patterns have been amazingly repetitive and yet
unpredictable for almost a month now, with repeated wind storms on the east side
of the mountains, and occasional "teaser snows" that either managed to spill
over the divide or developed in the wake of a passing storm, with just a few
hours of upslope flow to squeeze out any available moisture. Remember the large
wild fire southwest of Pueblo some 10 days ago? It got put out by up to 8" of
snow that fell overnight in one of those passing storms that otherwise only
favored the mountains. Unfortunately, the models have been producing more false
alarms with this flow patterns than not, so that I have been very hesitant to
put out a PSA until I am virtually certain that something reasonably big is
going to happen.
Today is such a day, with a couple of inches already on the ground from a minor
disturbance ahead of a storm, and the stage being set for at least twelve more
hours of northerly to northeasterly flow, it is virtually certain that most
people reached by this PSA will see at least half a foot of snow (except on warm
surfaces like paved roads), and some lucky folks (with more of a northern
exposure and/or being located south of here (say, in Jefferson County) that
should receive a longer duration event than further north. This storm will
remain cold enough that even the lowest elevations will see all snow, and the
air aloft will be just in the right temperature range to promote nice snow
crystals/fluffy snow this evening.
Flies in the ointment? This storm has at least three: unfortunately, it is one
of those fast movers (as so many storms before it that just resulted in wind for
us), so the upslope flow situation will be short-lived, fairly weak, and much of
its moisture is being deposited west of here. Nevertheless, enough moisture has
snuck in from the high plains to allow for snow to continue through this morning
when there has not been much upslope flow to speak off.
Bottomline: widespread snow should pick up this afternoon (possibly worst around
rush-hour), and linger into the night, especially south and west of Boulder.
Should be a pretty, nearly calm, and cold sunrise tomorrow, everything being
coated with 4-8" of fresh snow, and some lucky folks ending up with up to a foot
of fluffy powder.
Hard to tell whether elevation will make any difference between the lowest
foothills and higher up, except for maybe slightly fluffier snow at high
Our dreaded downslope winds will return to the foothills by Friday night, but
another weaker storm should drop in on us by Saturday evening, allowing for a
lull in the windiness, and a few more flurries into Sunday morning. Right now,
it does not look like this one should be as strong as today's storm, but that
could change. Beyond that, it looks fairly murky right now, but there is
potential for yet another storm around mid-week next week, and you can kiss the
60sF good-bye for at least the next week - ruining a perfectly good chance at a
PSA #2 11-23-2005/2006 snow season (POST-Thanksgiving!)
Sorry about the late/short notice, but there is a good
chance for snow this
weekend (Saturday night in particular) that could become PSA-worthy. No risk of
rain instead of snow, as we saw in October's storm, and continued cool and
unsettled conditions for most of next week as well. The northern mountains (that
got off to a great start earlier this month) should do well next week as well.
I will probably not get around to updating this, so my current estimate is 3-6"
in the plains, and twice that in the higher foothills for this weekend. I seem
to recall several post-Thanksgiving storms that gave us good snow totals, in
particular last year, and in
1995 (both over one foot
Again, sorry about the short/late notice, and have a great T-day tomorrow (two
more dry and warmish days to "contend" with...) -
P.S.: The October storm verified big time in some places (south/east Denver, and
around my neck of the woods had over a foot), but Boulder only got rain!
Snowfall totals around 30"
near Breckenridge were probably (close to) monthly records!
10-07-2005 2005/2006 snow season (don't ignore this
Good afternoon,I hope you all enjoyed a very pleasant and warm fall season so far. After a
near-miss snow storm in early June (that verified my last PSA nicely above 8K in
north-central Larimer County and into North Park), we had a pretty hot/dry
summer, and an extremely dry September (my 3rd driest in 16 years). In fact, the
temperatures from October 1st to 3rd were record-breaking in much of our area (I
measured 73F at 8500' on two separate occasions, setting and tieing a new
October record). Then, there was a little interlude earlier this week when many
of us in the higher foothills managed to get our first measurable snow (quite
late, I might add), and it has been nice to see how slowly the first few inches
of snow have been melting above tree line.
For about a week now, first the ECMWF (European) and the GFS (Global Forecast
System) have been advertising a significant storm to hit us early next week, and
as of last night all models have converged on the timing (if not the strength)
and approximate temperature of this storm. I mention temperature since this
storm will be warm enough for rain in the lower elevations for a good portion of
it. But I am getting ahead of myself.
Essentially, this storm is dropping in from the northwest (it is currently still
offshore), and will form a cut-off low as it approaches CO on Sunday morning.
That cut-off low (at the upper
levels) should travel slowly past the Four Corners from Sunday night into Monday
night, leaving us in DEEP easterly upslope for around 36h. Apparently, the
remains of "Stan" will be feeding in some upper-level moisture from Baha, so
that might explain some of the precip totals I have seen in some models (giving
the San Juans a very good dose of rain initially as well).
If you want to think of an analog case, remember what happened around October
24-25, 1997 - the infamous October Blizzard that shut down DIA (i.e., Peña
Boulevard). Main difference to that storm: even though it tracked similarly, it
had a tighter circulation, AND colder air on its backside, leading to an
all-snow event even in the lowest elevations.
So, since this is 2-3 days out, take this with a grain of salt, a lot can happen
between now and then, but I gather that you would rather have an uncertain
forecast today rather than an accurate forecast on Monday morning, when it might
be too late for folks in the higher
SUNDAY: Clouds will be building over the divide all day, with isolated
thunderstorms possible by noon or so. Rain showers should start drifting
northeastward over the foothills in the afternoon, with some locales receiving
up to half an inch of rain even above 8K. Easterly flow should commence around
that time and intensify towards the evening, creating a more general upslope
event by nightfall. Around sunset, this should result in a steady moderate
rainfall over the plains (if you watch the Broncos play, you will need good (and
warm) rain gear), and moderate to heavy (1-3"/h) snow above about 7K. Since a
jet streak will be rounding the base of the large-scale trough all night into
Monday, there could be dynamic enhancement of snowfall rates due to being in the
left front quadrant of its exit region (lots of jargon that translates into
slowly moving heavy snowbands).
The snowline will lower very slowly
all night into -
MONDAY: Heaviest widespread precipitation in the morning, with snow replacing
rain all the way down to the plains at times. The key to this will be the
precipitation intensity: the more moderate to heavy precipitation falls, the
more likely it will cool the lower levels sufficiently to change into snow. If
the Canadian model is right and we "only" get 0.5-1"
of moisture, the plains might only see a trace of snow, but that is the most
extreme dry/warm scenario. If the wetter scenarios (2-4" of moisture are
possible in areas with initial thunderstorms/intensified snowfall bands later
on) verifies, the heaviest showers from
midnight till noon on Monday should be all snow down to 5K. Given the current
foliage, this could do all kinds of damage to deciduous trees (and power lines).
Precipitation should remain widespread from the divide to the eastern plains
until at least late morning on Monday, but could rekindle/linger well into the
night, if the cut-off low stalls out as "planned". Even if it just rains in the
plains, it should be a very chilly day, hardly out of the 30sF.
Bottomline: a trace up to potentially a foot of heavy wet snow in the western
suburbs (if it rains on Monday morning, no need to worry); 6-18"
in the lower foothills; and one to three feet in the higher foothills/near the
divide, depending on (1) eastern/northeastern exposure to upslope winds, (2)
elevation (close to and above 10K should be almost all snow), and
(3) vicinity to one of those jet streak-enhanced snowbands.
Aftermath: lingering cool air should slow down the warm-up until late next week,
and there may very well be a second, smaller storm that could drop into our area
around Wednesday and add a few inches of snow (PSA #2 will be issued if it could
approach a foot).
Enjoy - this could easily be the second biggest October snow in more than 20
years (since the "Bronco Blizzard" of 1984, and behind October 1997) -
P.S.: A reminder: if you want to be taken of this list, just send me an e-mail.
I would recommend doing the same, if you change your e-mail address (I lose a
few "customers" each year due to that mechanism). Also: I only issue a PSA if I
see the possibility of a foot of snow (or more) in the Front Range foothills,
not every time I see snow coming around the corner. This is completely
voluntary/non-operational, and when I travel, I will typically not send one out,
unless I see something coming way in advance. So, "buyer beware!", I assume no
liability for this.
PSA # 10 04-15-2005
This is a tad early to send this out, but I see the potential for a prolonged
wet period for our region next week, and I will be out of town for the rest of
the month. The airmass will probably not be quite as cold as during the last
storm, so that a lot of the precipitation will not fall as snow, never mind
stick to the ground in the lower elevations. Above 8K, we could see enough to
turn around the sub-par snowpack in our region. As a matter of fact, the last
storm actually put enough snow on Niwot Ridge to briefly surge back to 100% of
normal. Since the first storm probably won't get going until Tuesday
evening/Wednesday, the details are still quite iffy, but I would expect a cold
front to drop in from the north on Tuesday, while a cutoff low spins to our
west, probably lifting out to our north or right over us. In mid-winter, such a
track could completely miss us, but this is spring, and things don't have to
line up perfectly to get decent precipitation amounts. Since the pattern will be
quite blocked, again, the storm could easily last two days, with lulls in
between, and remaining unsettled through the remainder of the week. Temperatures
should be below normal, with mostly 40s in the plains and 30s in the higher
foothills. A second surge is possible by the end of the week, which might
reinforce the late-season cold air enough to bring snow to the lowest
elevations, if this has not happened during the mid-week storm.
Total precipitation should rival, if not surpass, the last storm, especially in
the mountains, and may give us a "wet" month for a change, and keep backcountry
skiing in pretty decent shape at least to the end of the month. This storm
should also continue to general tendency (in spring) to shift the storm track
northward, so that, for once, the northern mountains might actually do better
than the southern ones.
In the spirit of PSA's, I would not be surprised to see more than a foot of new
snow measured in the higher foothills during the mid-week storm, with more after
that. As I mentioned in PSA #9, the period around the 21st of April is almost as
likely to see good snowfall amounts higher up as the 'singularity' around April
10th (posting our 9th storm around a foot or more in 17 years!).
Too bad Eldora is closing down this weekend, the snow by the end of next week
could be the best of the season -
Think snow (yes, the drought is still not over!) -
Postmortem to PSA # 9: April 16 2005
All in all about what was expected, except, yet again, the
plains south and east of Denver got more than their fair share - closing down
DIA and numerous highways due to near-blizzard conditions. Roughly from southern
Boulder County into Jefferson County, the storm delivered between 1.5 and 2.5
feet of heavy snow, mostly due to its long duration (higher foothills saw
continuous snow from Saturday evening through early Monday), not any
particularly heavy snow.
I "only" measured 15.1" (1.22 H2O), but have to admit that it was nice to see
the fourth one-foot+ storm of the season, especially after a frustratingly slow
start last Saturday night into Sunday morning.
Update to PSA # 9
April 9th-April 11th(?) 2005
we are on track for a decent spring snowstorm around here. In my original PSA
statement, I articulated a few caveats, some of which are still unresolved,
while others can be removed.
First the removals: this event will be mostly a snow event all the way down to
the plains, especially on Sunday. While we are not tapping into any really cold
air to our north, the initial short wave that is passing through right now (see
the towering clouds to our west?) will get a flow from the north going that
should bring in air cold enough to allow for a fairly quick change-over to snow
(especially, since the lower levels will be fairly dry, which will allow for a
large drop in temperature due to evaporative cooling).
In fact, the air may become
cold enough for some nice dendrites to mix in. So, while the plains will
probably not see any powder snow out of this, the foothills could see some
pretty fluffy stuff towards the end of the storm.
Timing and intensity: precipitation should start in earnest some time after
sunset tomorrow and around midnight (earlier showers can be counted as "icing on
the snowstorm"). There has been a bit off a wobble in the intensity (and
location) of the heaviest precipitation, including the exact mid-level wind
direction and speed (very important for the orographic effects), but it seems
right now that there should be a twelve-hour period from about midnight until
noon on Sunday that should feature some heavy snowbands (in excess of
1"/h) anchored against
the foothills, especially where northeastern exposure is most favorable.
Duration and location of heaviest snows is still a bit iffy - in fact, today's
ECMWF run is still showing good upslope over us by Monday morning, while the ETA
(now "NAM", an unfortunate
acronym) shuts us down by Sunday afternoon. Canadian ensembles show a large
spread as well, with some storm totals of barely 0.5" (and over by Sunday
afternoon), while others keep going into Monday, with 2" liquid totals. This
hinges essentially on two "flys in the ointment": #1:
the lead wave crossing over us right now may "sap" the energy available for the
second storm (the one discussed above), and may linger close enough to us (in
Dakotas) to continue to
interfere with our upslope situation; #2: once the cutoff low forms near Grand
Junction tomorrow morning, it should keep moving to our south and not linger
over, say, SE Colorado/NE New Mexico too long, mainly because there is another
wave trying to move onshore early next week to keep the pattern progressive. As
the ECMWF suggests, the next wave may hold back just long enough to keep the
upslope going for, say, a total of 36 hours instead of 12.
IOW, if it is still snowing on Sunday evening, don't be surprised if it keeps
doing it until Monday morning, while a clear sunset on Sunday should indicate
the end of this particular storm.
How much will we get? Based on the above, the most likely amounts are just under
a foot on grassy areas (and TREES - watch for tree damage to those that are
leafing out already!) in the plains to one to two feet on north- to east-facing
foothill locales. If the slower scenario pans out, this could be doubled, but
seems unlikely. A hard freeze should occur on Sunday night in particular.
PSA#10 may follow in about six days...
Think snow -
PSA#9 for this weekend
April 7 2005 1:44 AM
Good evening, y'all,
don't get fooled by two storms that narrowly missed us (by less than 100 miles
each), and the warm weather of the next few days. The next storm appears to line
up more in the classic spring storm sense. This means that it should cut off
WEST of our longitude (for a change), that there should be a prolonged period of
deep upslope (at least 24h, possibly twice as long), and that the foothills
could indeed end up with well over a foot.
The usual caveats this far out (2.5-3 days) apply, for instance, it is still
unclear whether most of this will fall as snow all the way to the plains, or
whether you have to go above 7K to enjoy this as a heavy snowfall. More
importantly, there is a fairly wide spread in the model runs with regard to the
duration/speed/intensity of this event
- it could be over by Sunday
evening, or it could last well into Monday. Right now, the central precipitation
value for us seems to hover around 1", but quite a few runs give us twice that.
Interesting background: "climate singularities" are a fact of life around here,
such as the "mini-dry season" at the end of June/early July before the monsoon
kicks in, or the (in)famous "Halloween anomaly" (first time of season to have
decent odds for snowfall).
Well, the last best chance
to get a good snowstorm in the plains appears to center around the 10th of
April. To wit, in my sixteen Aprils in Boulder (since 1989), we have had eight
storms in the foothills that dropped around a foot or more of snow on us between
April 9th and 12th. Last year and 1991 are the "high-snow-marks" for this
phenomenon when around two feet fell in my neck of the woods. Incidentally,
comparable good snowfall odds for me follow almost two weeks later, but by then
the snowline often settles around 7K or 8K, so that the plains often only see
lots of rain (the dump of 1997 notwithstanding - I saw close to four feet in
that one, while Boulder picked up around two feet if memory serves correctly).
Let's hope that three is indeed the charm, and this one finally delivers what
the last two withheld - watch for an update by Friday afternoon, by which I hope
to narrow down the amounts...
Update PSA #8
3/14/2005 10:15 AM
"not much for the next few days!"
Quick update: storm #1 appears to have delivered (through this morning, I have
measured just under 17" so far, at 20:1 not a spectacular moisture producer).
Storm #2 looks like it will be going too far south. However, this opens the door
for storm #3 on Thursday into Friday that was supposed to go to our north in
earlier runs. Would not be surprised if that one delivered more than the few
flurries than earlier advertised. I will be out of town through Thursday
evening, so no update will come from my end. Don't believe the forecasts that
warm us up significantly by the weekend, the weather will remain more
winter-like than we have seen in quite a while at least through the weekend.
Think snow (just not at DIA, please...),
PSA #8 Fri 3/11/2005 12:22 AM
Good evening, everyone,
I am writing this a bit earlier than usual, since I may not be able to update
Yes, I know I have been quoted in the media as saying that I expected a wet
March (or, in the proper lingo: that the odds were favorable for a wet March).
Of course, that interview was originally recorded almost a month ago, and it
took so long to get out that one should have affixed a disclaimer that 'reality
bites' - we had an unusually dry spell in the last few weeks.
However, the dry (and mostly mild) weather will come to an end this weekend,
with the potential for quite a bit of snow all they way down to the plains from
a prolonged snowy spell that could last from Saturday night to Wednesday
morning, along with continuous sub-freezing temperatures above about 8K. While
the U.S. (GFS) model has been quite variable in its total precipitation
predictions, the Canadian ensemble model forecasts have been pointing at a
substantial event since last Saturday (!), anticipating at least an inch of
moisture for at least six days now. The latest run from this evening continues a
modest upward trend that would give us 2"+ for the five day period from Saturday
evening through Thursday afternoon.
Interestingly, the upcoming storm may be part of the reorganization of the
planetary waves that were locked into a very blocked pattern for some three
weeks, anchored by an extremely long duration (about three weeks) high pressure
cell over the North Atlantic that kept most of Europe in a very impressive
winter pattern for so late in the season, with record snows from the Netherlands
to the Moscow, and all-time record low temperatures for so late in the season.
This pattern appears to be coming to an end right now, with an overall
"retrogression" (westward movement) of the Atlantic block, leading to the
establishment of a western U.S. trough (instead of a ridge) over the next three
days or so. By the way, it is too late in the season to get really cold air over
us with this pattern, especially since the air upstream (in Canada) is not
particularly cold either.
Also, there is not a particularly good fetch of moisture with this system, even
though the dynamic forcing might compensate for this, along with periods of
Bottomline: expect two more warm days with a fair amount of sun and wind, and
then a good cold front from the north Saturday night. We should wake up to a
steady snow that might last all day, and into Monday (in the Canadian scenario),
followed by a possible lull during the on Monday. A second surge follows the
first one by about 48h, leading to more accumulating snow. There is the distinct
possibility that the second wave may lead to a cut=off low in the vicinity of
the Four Corners region. If it had not been so dry lately, I would predict about
a foot for each of the two surges (more in the foothills/less in the plains,
with good melting from below initially, and warmer temperatures), with the
potential for more snow with the second storm in particular.
Given the recent dry
weather, I will be happy to see a total of more than a foot out of this. This
should also be a good storm for the mountains on both sides of the divide (after
the initial snows that will focus on the east side of the Front Range), so that
the statewide snow pack numbers should go up again. If the Canadian ensembles are
right, this could hoist the snow pack in the South Platte basin very close to
close to normal by the end of the week.
Think snow, and watch for a possible update on Monday morning, before I have to
go on a trip (unfortunately),
Update PSA #7
Tuesday Feb 15 2005
Good afternoon, y'all, it looks like the main event is already over, so most of
us will only see light snow for the remainder of the evening. I have no idea how
much snow fell in my neck of the woods, but the weather service wrote that up to
a foot fell in Larimer County foothills! The second storm within two and a half
weeks that behaves more like a spring storm than a mid-winter storm. Hopefully
this means even more interesting storms by next month!
I may still have to write PSA #8 later this week, if the next storm sets up
properly. Meanwhile, there is still some room for at least light snow over the
next day or two, with a break around Thursday into Friday, and then more of the
same (overrunning moisture from the southwest and low-level
upslope) over the weekend into next week. - THINK SNOW (and report it,
Top Of Page
PSA #7 Tuesday Feb 15 2005
Sorry about the late notice, but this one is evolving stronger than expected -
yet again! And again, the only model that has so far flagged this one as a
potential dump is the Canadian Ensemble model! In short (I have an appointment
right after this), the persistent split flow pattern has shifted enough to be in
our favor, with colder air from Canada infiltrating our area in the lower
elevations, and moisture from the Pacific overriding this at higher levels. The
overall configuration looks pretty stable into at least tomorrow, so the snow
should continue at least until then.
Given this morning's snowfall rates, this should translate into a foot of snow
(or more) in the foothills of Boulder and Larimer County, with the best snow so
far being reported from locales west of Fort Collins, where it may approach two
feet by tomorrow. Boulder et al. will be lucky if more than 8" accumulate.
Temperatures should remain roughly the same as they are now for the rest of the
day, ie., just below freezing in the plains and upper 10s/low 20s higher up
(arctic air will remain well to our north).
So, the treated roads should remain just wet until sunset, and even after then,
it may not be too bad, depending on the amount of mag-chloride used. The higher
foothills may become quite messy late tonight, since they probably won't get
plowed after 4pm, and there won't be any melting up there.
The pattern remains potentially quite interesting into next week, with a lull
around Thursday. Will issue another PSA later this week, if we are still on
track for the weekend snows. No more 60s and 50s in the plains for quite a
Again, sorry for the delay, but most models were just giving us a few inches out
Top Of Page
PSA #6 /
The storms are starting to roll in regular progression (or so it seems), and we
definitely seem to have the best snowpack in the Front Range in about 7 years
(without the benefit of an October four-footer!). Looks like another storm is
just about to hit us. This one is yet another "funny" one, with a huge moisture
plume moving in (aloft) from the southwest, and surface arctic air from the
north and northeast, which will get moderated somewhat by the lack of snow from
South Dakota to us. Nevertheless, the stage will be set for a decent overrunning
event (warm air above cold air) for tomorrow into Wednesday. If you believe the
ETA model (with its superior terrain resolution), we should barely get 0.2" of
moisture, while the coarser GFS model spits out more than three times as much
for us. This would be quite high for a January event, but I am leaning towards
the GFS because it appears to have a better handle on the moisture
supply/advection in the next 24h than the ETA. To wit, we should be saturated
and precipitating right after midnight (at least in the foothills), while the
ETA holds back at least six hours and never gets as moist as the GFS. The
Canadian Ensembles from last night support a bigger event as well. Fly in the
ointment: the circulation will never settle into a straight, deep upslope event,
so that we are dependent on the unusual amount of moisture as well as some
dynamic forcing (jet streaking rounding the cutoff low over Utah) to get the
higher amounts that I anticipate/"wishcast".
Bottom-line: this event should last for about 24-36h (petering out during the
middle of Wednesday), temperatures should stay below freezing once it gets going
(mostly 20s in the lower elevations, and 10s higher up), and the second half of
the event should benefit from layer temperatures in the low 10s which should be
good for fluffy snow. Some of the really early snow may fall as mixed
precipitation in the lowest elevations(!). Since I expect close to 0.5" liquid
(it is very hard to get more than half an inch of moisture in January!), I can
see widespread amounts of 5-10" in the lower elevations, and up to a foot or
more higher up (fluffier snow!). Due to details of the dynamic forcing there may
be some SW-NE oriented banding as well that could double localized amounts.
It will be cold enough for the snow to stick during the evening rush hour
tomorrow, and might refreeze/become icy on Wednesday as well.
The weather service is not that different in terms of the forecast snowfall
totals (4-8" in the plains close to the foothills (more to the EAST!), and 6-10"
for the foothills), but they have gone hogwild about the arctic air that is
supposed to flood the area. Might be a case of forecasting (again) the last
event that just happened before Christmas. I just don't think that sub-zero lows
are in the cards, especially if we keep as cloudy as it looks to be right now.
Happy (Snowy) New Year,
P.S.: Postmortem - a nice pre-Christmas snow dropped just under a foot on some
lower foothill locales (Boulder Heights, near Eldorado Springs), while higher
elevations got less fluff (7" total for me). Temperatures dropped below zero
virtually everywhere by the evening of the 23rd, only to rebound nicely on the
next day, without too much wind. What a short-lived (and reasonable
predictable) arctic episode! I recorded -13F which might well be the low for the
Top Of Page
Dec 22 2004
Good evening, y'all,
Another round of snow is coming our way, similar to last night's fluff (7.4" is
the highest report so far, from Boulder Heights, but only 0.17").
However, the final
arctic surge will be about 10F colder than last night's which means that higher
elevations may get cheated out of some nice dendrites and get the dreaded DENSE
arctic snow ("ice needles") instead. One observation of interest is that this
arctic airmass is not of the mature, stable variety, where one can observe
almost isothermal temperatures from the surface to the mid-troposphere. Since
the incoming air mass has not had much time to "mature", and since there are even
some regions to our north that are still only covered by a thin/non-existent
snowcover (eastern Montana!), this means that the air is somewhat unstable,
leading to snow showers/-bursts with occasionally sharp boundaries, as witnessed
last night in our drive home into the mountains.
Bottom-line: expect more snow from late this evening until late morning, fluffier
in lower elevations, and about the same amount of liquid (0.1-0.3") as last
This means around 2" higher up (say, above 8K), and up to 6" in the lower
Temperatures should dip well below zero higher up (-10sF is quite possible, if
there is any hole in the cloud cover), and close to 0F in the plains. I am not
sure about tomorrow night - there will be plenty of warm air trying to scour out
the arctic air by early Saturday. Could result in good winds higher up/ a wave
cloud to keep the plains from cooling off too much tomorrow night. So, the
"worst" of the cold
may be over after tonight.
Top Of Page
PSA 5 Xmas week 2004
Outlook / Postmortem #4
Good evening, y'all,
After almost three weeks of the 'winter doldrums' (on the eastern plains), next
week promises at least winter-like temperatures next week, possibly with some
moderate snows as well. As is typical for these medium-range forecasts, the cold
temperatures are much more predictable than the amount of precipitation. The
first cold front is scheduled to arrive by Monday evening, and should get us
well below freezing, while the secondary/more important push should arrive about
two days/nights later, with the potential for true arctic air (temperatures
hovering around 0F even in the plains) over eastern Colorado.
The weather service is rather skeptical about the chances for snow (they put in
a measly 10-20% for Tuesday through Thursday), but I am more optimistic. This is
for two main reasons: one is based on my own experience with cold waves around
here, the other is based on the Canadian and European model forecasts. Starting
with my own experience, this is one of the few places I know where arctic air
has a way of generating its own, focused snowfall patterns, while many other
regions around the country (with the notable exception of the Great Lake 'snow
that tend to dry out as arctic air moves in. The main reason for this is
topography: having the mountains to our WEST means that arctic high pressure
cells that move south from Canada towards Colorado push the air against the
mountains, and "make their own snow" as these upslope conditions continue for
longer stretches. The amount of snow we get from this depends on (a) the amount
of upslope (intensity, depth, and duration), and (b) the amount of upper air
forcing (overrunning aloft and/or disturbances in the upper level flow). The
latter can be quite fickle, since relatively small-scale features can make all
the difference, while the former (upslope) is a safer bet. Since we should be in
an overall upslope regime from Monday night at least into Thursday, I am less
concerned than the weather service that this will result in precipitation of a
long duration. Typically, these situations have separate diurnal pulses that
appear to synchronize around sunset (which is earlier to our north), and come in
from the north, making for messy evening rush hours (probably not before Tuesday
Reason #2: the Canadian, European, as well as the U.S. Navy forecast models give
us more intense dynamic (upper level) forcing around Wednesday that yields
around half an inch of moisture (or close to 10" of fluffy snow) - compared to
the anemic looking weather service model (GFS).
Bottom-line: the stage will be set for wintry, occasionally snowy weather, but
it is early to call for snowfall amounts. Look for an update on Monday!
Have a good weekend,
P.S.: quick postmortem on the post-thanksgiving storm: forecast verified nicely
with widespread 6-12" amounts in the plains (maximized around Loveland), and
12"+ amounts in the foothills (maybe close to two feet straight west of Fort
Collins). Subsequent cold weather kept the snow on the ground for more than a
week even on the plains, and almost everybody experienced sub-zero lows.
Top Of Page
Nov 24 2004
Good afternoon, y'all,
We appear to be stuck in a cold pattern into the foreseeable future.
Any snow that will fall
over the next week or so will not melt with the usual swiftness (in the
lowlands). After a quick moving system tomorrow night into Friday, the more
interesting situation is shaping up for the weekend, around Sunday. As has been
common this fall, the models are all over the place with this one, with some
solutions short-changing us yet again by tracking most of the action to our
south and west, while others put us right under the cross-hairs of a major
winter storm. After a brief warm-up tomorrow, apparently with less wind than
originally expected (?), it is quite possible that we will see some snow falling
out of the sky from tomorrow evening right into next week. Around 9000'
and higher, the present light spill-over snows should continue off and on
through the next 30h, leading to an even longer stretch of accumulating snow.
After last weekend's "dud", I am hesitant to put numbers on this one, but my
best guess right now is for around a foot of snow (powder) in the higher
foothills from tonight through Monday, and about half of that for the lower
elevations (plus/minus 50%).
Enough, in any case, for some travel problems. For those of you that have to
travel this weekend, I would advise to check the latest forecasts in case the
"wet" scenario comes to pass.
If we do get more than a few passing showers (like yesterday), and it clears
out, this will be our first chance of getting close to 0F in the higher
elevations, and down to about 10F in the plains (most likely around Monday).
West of peak-to-peak highway, the current freeze should continue well into next
week, allowing for a nice/overdue build-up of a more seasonal snowpack.
Top Of Page
PSA 2 & 3 Nov 22 2004
Looks like we had one good Halloween forecast (PSA #2), and one mixed forecast
for last weekend (PSA #3). Regarding the first one, I had promised localized
amounts of up to one foot on the evening of Halloween, and it looks like there
were 13.2" near the top of Coal Creek Canyon, as well as 10" near Red Feather
were widespread reports of 6-8" in the foothills, with lesser amounts (initial
RAIN) further down.
The weekend storm ended up tracking further west than expected/hoped for,
dropping a cool 29" on Wolf Creek Pass in 48h, vs. just a couple of inches in
and around Boulder to Eldora and Sugarloaf, while northern Boulder and the
foothills of Larimer County received at least twice as much (yours
truly: 5.8" out of 0.43", Niwot Ridge just under 7"
out of the same amount of moisture), and there was even an 8" from west of Estes
Unfortunately, the same system that only gave us a glancing blow over the
weekend will track eastward too far south of us to affect us any further. A
decent low-level surge from Montana and Wyoming will cool us down for tomorrow,
but looks to shallow and dry to give us more than clouds (riming in
foothills?!). Thanksgiving looks dry and windy for now, with some spill-over
snows possible in the favored locales (NED, etc.). Should also warm us up again
after tomorrow's cool-down. From Friday into Sunday looks like another cold push
with potential for upslope snowfall that could become PSA-worthy - stay tuned, I
will update this by Wednesday.
Looks like winter-weather is here to stay into at least next week, hopefully the
snow will not be far behind -
Top Of Page
Nov 19 2004
Good evening, y'all,
looks like the flow patterns will finally favor us again, sort of like the
Halloween storm, but with more (and longer) oomph behind it. By the way,
tomorrow is the 25th anniversary of the 2nd biggest November snow storm on
record (officially about two feet, but according to some eye witnesses closer to
30"). In case you are wondering, close to 40" fell in early November 1946 for
the bigger one.
Getting back to the storm du jour, a decent-looking wave is dropping into the
intermountain west right now, and will carve out a fairly long-lasting cutoff
low to our southwest that will finally "kick out" around Tuesday. In between
tonight and Wednesday, the best-case scenario keeps the cutoff low close enough
to us to keep us in an overrunning pattern (cold air near the surface vs. warm
air aloft) for most of this period. It does not look likely that the flow will
get much of a moisture fetch from the pacific, so that much of this period may
not get heavy precipitation rates. For that matter, it was disheartening to see
how long it took to cloud over with near-surface upslope winds today. Oh, and
the worst case scenario drops the wave too far to our southwest (and too fast),
and then kicks it out too far to our south early next week to do us any good
Other pertinent information: 1. It will be cold enough for snow at all
elevations and from the beginning of this storm; 2. The weather service has just
issued a winter storm watch, with 4-8" in the plains and 6-12" in the foothills
and higher up by tomorrow night; 3. All models agree on at least light snow to
fall from early tomorrow into tomorrow night.
Bottom-line (focusing just on the next two days, more on Monday, if "part II" of
this storm materializes): watch for snow to commence before midnight in the
higher foothills, followed by snow at lower elevations well before sunrise.
It should be coming
down at a pretty good clip by sunrise, accumulating to 4-8" by sunset in the
plains, and more than that higher up. This is one of those storms where the
upslope is not terribly deep, so I could see the middle foothills (~7000')
receiving the highest amounts. Alright, places higher up with good southeastern
exposure should also do well.
Tomorrow night , the snow should continue, albeit at a slower pace, adding
another few inches to the total. Grand totals should be between 6-12" in lower
elevations, and up to 20" in the most favored locations. Even though most models
do not give us more than 1" moisture, I am still optimistic about snow totals,
since the temperatures should favor good crystal growth (-10 to -15C).
More on Monday (including postmortems for this and the last storm), especially
if part II looks good by then -
P.S.: I sent this out one hour ago, but it bounced back because of one faulty
Top Of Page
Oct 29 2004
quick thumbs up on Sunday evening snow for EVERYONE, including the lowest plains
elevations! Range of modeled outcomes is still quite large, but all of them spit
out at least a few 1/10" moisture, along with temperatures that should quickly
drop below the freezing mark. Best case scenario: 12h of decent upslope, with
moderate snowfall rates could lead to localized (close to) one foot amounts in
the foothills. Timing is settling in on Sunday evening, so dress your
trick-or-treaters warmly, and prepare for snow on roads. Should be melting on
lower elevation pavements, at least initially.
A little bit of statistics thrown in for "Halloween" anomaly connoisseurs
(Boulder is tricky, since the cutoff time for daily observations is at 5pm (!)
rather than midnight, or early morning). If you take the daily data since 1948,
and allow for snowfall to occur either on the 31st of October and/or the 1st of
November, there have been 14 (out of 56) such occasions, or exactly one every
four years. In the last 15 years, the odds for snow in Boulder did improve to
40% (1989, 1991, 1995, 1996, 2002, and last year), but that includes 0.2" in
2003, while all others were at least 1". Two of the more memorable occasions
were in 1972: 10.5" on those two days, plus 9.6" on the 30th (15" on ground by
the 1st), and just two years ago (2002), with 6.7" on those two days, but a
total of 20.8" from the 29th to the 3rd (only made it to 10" on the ground,
In Denver (measuring midnight to midnight), the odds for snow on the 31st are
only once every 8 years, but go up to over 50%, if you allow for snow on the
1st, and/or snow on the ground (the Denver statistics can be found at:
In the higher foothills (yours truly), the odds are over 50% for snowfall (8 out
of 15 since 1989) on the 31st, improving to over 70% (11 out of 15) if one
allows for snow on the 1st as well. IOW, almost double the odds seen in Boulder.
BTW, my record snowfall for the 31st and 1st combined is "only" 10.5" (in 1995),
so the upcoming event could challenge that.
So, despite what one hears about Halloween always being snowy in Boulder, this
is not quite correct, to say the least, but it certainly qualifies as the first
period in the fall season to have winter-like (or better) odds for snowfall.
Top Of Page
There is potential for a more prolonged wintry period from the middle to the
end of next week, but more on that as we approach it.
Happy Halloween, and let's hope that the election results are more certain than
my forecasts (I believe I commented that hell froze over after the 2000
election, in case you are wondering about my political tilt, or was that a
comment about the weather?) -
P.S.: My first PSA, back in September verified pretty well - measurable snow was
confined to elevations around 7000' and up, and I had one report of 8.6" of wet
snow (Coal Creek Canyon, just under 9000'). And we had indeed close to 1" of
moisture for most of us.
There was another event earlier this month (around the 12th/13th) that dropped
almost as much moisture on us, possibly a little more snow (I had 4.6" in the
September event, and 6.8" in the last one). I did not send out a PSA for that
one, expect amounts far below 12". Turns out that event was a bit more than
expected. Always good to see that happening early in the season (as opposed to
false-alarm-storms that don't deliver).
Top Of Page
PSA 1 Sept 20 2004
"First snow of the season, with a small chance for significant snows in
after a wet and cool summer, fall may skip a season over the next few
days, by dropping our temperatures some 30F or more, as well as some of
the white stuff down to the lower foothills. Based on today's model
runs, the spectrum of possible outcomes is still quite large, ranging
from a few showers (and flurries higher up) for tomorrow to a prolonged
precipitation event from later tonight through most of Wednesday (which
would allow for accumulating snow to fall all the way down to western
Boulder). Too bad that the moisture from "Javier"
managed to skip over us ahead of this storm, otherwise we could be
talking fairly large precipitation amounts.
Compared to other PSA's (for newbie's, that refers to "Public Service
Announcements"), I won't go into detailed scenarios, partially because
I need to get out of here, but also because I do not have a favored
model this time around. However, the wettest outcome could result
in an inch or more of moisture (if it falls in
upslope regions overnight, this would be found in the higher
northeast-facing foothills; if more of it falls during the daytime,
with isolated thunderstorms, anyone might luck out), and most of it
would fall as snow in the highest foothills, while lower elevations may
have to wait until Tuesday night for any frozen precipitation. If the
clouds and precipitation linger around tomorrow night, the plains may
escape a freeze for that night, but I believe there is a high risk for
at least a light freeze by Wednesday (and Thursday) night for all but
the most protected locales (like downtown Denver...).
Cross your fingers (if you like snow), it seems that one in three
Septembers is good for a PSA-worthy storm, and the last one was in 2001
(in the higher foothills)!
Think snow -
Top Of Page