We've all been patiently waiting for Mother Nature to get her shit together and kick the season into high gear. It's been a relatively dry fall throughout Colorado and Utah, but flakes are finally starting to spew from the sky, and forecasters predict this storm will continue throughout the weekend, and more storms will continue to ramp up next week. This is good news, as many resorts are frantically preparing for opening day, and need all the snow they can get.
Scroll though the gallery above to see where snow is stacking up and read on for the Colorado and Utah Forecast from Open Snow, along with info on opening days.
Open Snow Colorado Forecast : November 17th
Expect snow to start between about 9-11am for most mountains, with snow continuing off-and-on through midnight on Thursday. Roads will likely be snow covered on Thursday and Thursday night. Some snow may even accumulate in the Denver area, though most major roads near the city should be fine with the exception of I-25, which could be snow covered for areas south of Denver on Thursday evening. The CAIC 4km WRF model is often too optimistic. But, these amounts are in the realm of possibility IF the storm slows down, or IF the initial bands of snow during midday Thursday produce a lot of snow, or IF the orographics really kick in on Thursday evening. This storm has a limited amount of moisture, and since moisture is the fuel for snow, I would tend to look at the lower end of the range rather than the top end of the range.
Nothing but good news for the long-range outlook.
Friday, Saturday, and Sunday will be dry but cool. Most resorts should be able to make snow at night.
Another storm will bring snow from midday Monday through Tuesday (Nov 21-22). Unlike today's storm, the storm early next week will have a LOT of moisture, so snow amounts could be higher, especially in the southern and central mountains. Here is a snow forecast from the University of Utah for Wolf Creek, in Colorado’s southern mountains. The average of the forecast lines shows about 10 inches next Monday and Tuesday.
Woke up this morning to about 2 inches of snow at my place on the Sandy bench. Looks like the upper elevations of the Wasatch are in the 2-5″ range so far this morning. Really hard to get accurate readings without ski resorts reporting. Should get additional snow showers throughout the day to help us get to the forecast 4-8″ totals. Obviously not a huge storm by any means, but still a welcome change.
Perhaps the biggest benefit is we should have 48 hours of continuous snowmaking on the upper mountain with these colder temperatures. Temps will eventually warm by the weekend, so we may have to resort to nocturnal snowmaking, but still a better scenario than we’ve been seeing.
There is a lake effect band this morning. It is rather disorganized, and due to the orientation of the surface winds, it is dropping moderate to heavy snow on the Oquirrh range west of Salt Lake Valley rather than the Wasatch.
Our next storm is the splitting system we’ve been talking about. This is going to take most of its energy south. Arizona should see heavy rain and high elevation snowfall early next week. In Utah, we could get in on some of the scraps on Monday, but I wouldn’t expect much more than a few mountain snow showers at this point. Finally, we’ll have a chance for another storm as we head into Thanksgiving Day next Thursday. Too early for any details, but at this point it looks like we should have another shot at snowfall and colder air. I’m not sure we’ll be able to get anything open by Thanksgiving Day, but the hope would be that by that weekend (November 26-27), we could combine man-made snow with some natural snow and get at least a few runs open at a few of the resorts. We’ll see…
It looks like another chance for a storm will come for the last few days of the month (November 28-30). After that, models generally continue a pattern conducive for unsettled weather. This is good news. Eventually one or two of these storms will really work out and we’ll get some more significant snowfall.
Vail Resorts’ Colorado Opening Days:
Keystone: Friday, Nov. 18
Breckenridge: Saturday, Nov. 19.
Beaver Creek: Wednesday, Nov. 23
Vail Mountain: Friday, Nov. 25