What a week it’s been for the mountains of Colorado. The snowpack has increased considerably and more snow is expected. There’s even snow in the forecast for Denver and the Front Range at the end of this week that could bring Denver’s second build-up of the season.
The snowpack in the Colorado mountains was struggling a bit early in the month due to a lack of snow in November, but the recent storm cycle has brought the snowpack close to average. With snow coming this week, I would expect the snowpack to be above average as the new year approaches.
A near-average snowpack is exactly what we are always looking for. Several feet of snow has accumulated since Christmas Eve with the closest to Crested Butte and Wolf Creek reporting more than 3 feet of new snow since December 24. A big reason why the snowpack values increased so quickly is that the snow we just saw had a lot of water in it. An atmospheric river of moisture from the tropics near Hawaii carried this tropical moisture to us. There were 2-4 inches of liquid water reported in many areas of the West Slope. This should also help the drought conditions in western Colorado.
Another round of snow will bring many mountainous areas above 8,000 feet more than a foot of snow by Tuesday morning, with light flurries continuing through Wednesday and Thursday. Another big blast of snow seems to be possible by the end of the week and it could bring another big snowfall to the mountains with totals that can dwarf a foot in places.
The long range forecast shows continuous active weather for the mountains for the first 10 days of January, which we love to see. Snow accumulation now helps us retain snow during the spring months. We know how quickly things can change in Colorado, so let’s take advantage of what happens!
Denver and Front Range Forecast
A cold front is crossing today which will cause temperatures for Tuesday and Wednesday to drop below average. As this cold front moves overnight it could bring a few flurries to the area, but no significant build-up is expected if anything falls. Temperatures throughout the week will be moderate to near normal during the middle of the week. This leaves us with highs in the 40s.
A big cold front is expected to move through Friday and it will be strong. Temperatures are expected to drop about 40 degrees from Friday afternoon through Saturday morning. As this cold front moves, updrafts will develop and this is a fairly typical snow pattern along the Interstate 25 corridor. We will be dealing with warm air first because the temperatures will be well in the 40’s before the front passes.
There is a potential that there could be several inches of snow from this system, but there is also a potential of only half an inch to an inch. For now though, it seems likely Denver will see at least some build-up between Friday afternoon and Saturday. Saturday will be a very cold day across the region with peaks barely coming out of teens in some places.
Our snow season has been dismal. Denver has received just 0.3 inches of snow this entire season, a deficit of over 20 inches. Until the end of December, Denver has an average of 20.5 inches of snow. This possible snowfall, although it might not be a lot, is at least something, and with our drought getting worse and worse – we’ll take whatever we can get.