More snow Tuesday night & Wednesday plus a first look at Christmas…

Now it looks like Christmas!... Pic taken 12/11/2021

Now it looks like Christmas!… Pic taken 12/11/2021

Saturday – 11 Dec 2021 – 10:00am

The past…

At Stevens Field the high yesterday was 35 and the low this morning was -7. The cold spots hit -15! Peak winds yesterday afternoon were in the 30-35mph range.  Wind chills in the valley were around zero.  Wind chills along the ridge at Wolf Creek were around -20… brrrrr!

24-hour precip…  Another half inch of snow fell in parts of the valley yesterday morning.  Wolf Creek reported 3” in the last 24 hours to total 34” for the storm cycle!

Weather Underground temps at 9pm last night: Temps dropped quickly after the sunset.  By 9pm a few spots were already below zero with coldest at -10.
Weather Underground temps at 9pm last night: Temps dropped quickly after sunset.  By 9pm a few spots were already below zero with coldest at -10.
Weather Underground temps at 6:40am this morning: Most of us were below zero.  The coldest at this time was -11 but a few spots hit -15.
Weather Underground temps at 6:40am this morning: Most of us were below zero.  The coldest at this time was -11 but a few spots hit -15.

Forecast discussion…

Today through Monday will be dry as transient ridging builds back into the region.

Tuesday and Wednesday another low pressure system will move through.  The strength of the warm air advection is making the snow forecast tricky.  Plus a very strong jet stream could result in nasty winds.

Thursday a transient ridge will move through and we’ll be dry.

Friday through Sunday will be unsettled with a chance for precip but the system looks weak and there is considerable uncertainty with the timing. As the data gets better, I expect this vague 3-day window to narrow into a 12-24 hour window.  This is typical when we’re looking at weather more than 5 days out.

GeoColor satellite this morning: Other than patches of high cirrus clouds north of the green line, this all snow – it’s great to see! Something else that’s interesting is that north to south oriented band of clouds along the Front Range.  That’s lee-side cirrus caused by strong winds moving across the mountains. The low morning sun angle is causing a very obvious shadow along the western edge of the clouds – very cool!
GeoColor satellite this morning: Other than patches of high cirrus clouds north of the green line, this is all snow – it’s great to see! Something else that’s interesting is that north to south oriented band of clouds along the Front Range.  That’s lee-side cirrus caused by strong winds moving across the mountains. The low morning sun angle is causing a very obvious shadow along the western edge of the clouds – very cool!

My forecast…

Today through Monday… We’ll see lots of sun through late Monday when clouds will start increasing ahead of the next system. Temps today will remain below average with highs in the mid-20s to lower 30s and lows tonight will be in the -10 to 10 range. Highs Sunday will be a little warmer in the upper 30s to mid-40s and lows will be -5 to 10. Monday temps will be a few degrees warmer.

Tuesday and Wednesday… There will be more clouds and another round of snow.  This system will start on the warm side with the dreaded “r” word up to 8,200ft.  Then the snow level will lower to 7,000ft Tuesday night.  The best chance for precip is sunset Tuesday to noon on Wednesday.  Scattered showers are possible on either side of this period, especially over the mountains.

Highs Tuesday will be in the mid-40s and lows that night will be in the upper 20s to low 30s. The high temps on Wednesday will occur shortly after midnight in the mid to upper 30s.  The lows Wednesday night will be -5 to 10.

Winds will also be a problem with this system. Winds will peak Wednesday morning around 40mph in the valley and 60-70mph in the high country.

*** Expect periods of heavy snow, blowing snow, strong winds, and poor visibility Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. ***

My forecast snow amounts…

Valley: 2-6”

Mountains above 9,000ft: 12-20”

We’re right on the edge of the high resolution model data (entering the 4 day window). I’ll tweak the timing, snow amounts, and winds as the data gets better.

NBM snowfall through Wednesday at 11pm shows 10-15” in our mountains and 4-6” in the valley.  Right now this represents a good average of the models and looks like a reasonable forecast.
NBM snowfall through Wednesday at 11pm shows 10-15” in our mountains and 4-6” in the valley.  Right now this represents a good average of the models and I think it’s a good forecast.

Thursday… Skies will be partly cloudy. Highs will be in the mid-30s to lower 40s and lows will be -5 to 10.

Friday through Sunday… We’ll see more clouds and a chance for showers.  At this point forecast confidence is low with the timing and precip amounts, but I’m not expecting much.

Euro 15-day ensemble precip for Pagosa: The green line and the numbers at the bottom represent the average precip of 50 runs of the Euro model.  This is a good tool to get a rough idea about future systems. Note that the further it gets into the 15-day period, the wider the error bars get – the data is lower resolution and less reliable. At this point the models are expecting a system around Christmas.  It could go poof, or it could hammer us. We’ll have a much a better idea when we get into the 7 day window.
Euro 15-day ensemble precip for Pagosa: The green line and the numbers at the bottom represent the average precip of 50 runs of the Euro model.  This is a good tool to get a rough idea about future systems. Note that the further it gets into the 15-day period, the wider the error bars get – the data is lower resolution and less reliable. At this point the models are expecting a system around Christmas.  It could go poof, or it could hammer us. We’ll have a much a better idea when we get into the 7 day window.
Euro ensemble 15-day 24hr snowfall matrix for Pagosa: This is another way to look at similar model data. I really like this product. This shows what all 50 runs of the Euro expect over 24-hour periods. I like to see precip in all 50 runs and a low range of precip amounts. 

For the Tuesday/Wednesday system, between the two vertical purple lines, there is precip on all of the runs, but the amounts vary from 2” to 12”.  At this point, forecast confidence is high that we’ll get precip but the amounts are still uncertain.

Looking left to right, between the second purple line to the first yellow line, roughly 16-23 Dec, half the models have precip and the precip amounts are light.  Forecast confidence is low during this period. Then roughly between 23 and 26 Dec, more than half the models have precip and the amounts are a little higher.  Anything beyond 10 days is forecast fantasyland so confidence is very low, but this is encouraging.
Euro ensemble 15-day 24hr snowfall matrix for Pagosa: This is another way to look at similar model data. I really like this product. This shows what all 50 runs of the Euro expect over 24-hour periods. I like to see precip in all 50 runs and a low range of precip amounts.

For the Tuesday/Wednesday system, between the two vertical purple lines, there is precip on all of the runs, but the amounts vary from 2” to 12”.  At this point, forecast confidence is high that we’ll get precip but the amounts are still uncertain.

Looking left to right, between the second purple line to the first yellow line, roughly 16-23 Dec, half the models have precip and the precip amounts are light.  Forecast confidence is low during this period. Then roughly between 23 and 26 Dec, more than half the models have precip and the amounts are a little higher.  Anything beyond 10 days is forecast fantasyland so confidence is very low, but this is encouraging.

Pagosa Springs historical data

Average HighRecord High / YearAverage LowRecord Low / Year
4060 / 19067-18 / 1909

Call 877-841-0247 for our “dial up and text” forecast.

My next update will be tomorrow morning.

– Shawn

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I’ve been a “weather geek” since I was young child. I joined the military out of high school and was lucky to get my dream job in weather. I have 20 years of military weather experience which includes forecasting the weather all over the world. Highlights were six years in Alaska and making life and death weather decisions during deployments. I love mountains, I love snow, and I love summertime thunderstorms. I spend a bunch of time playing outdoors and found my paradise in Pagosa Springs. I do Pagosa Weather as a community service. Hopefully you find us helpful!
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