Potential for damaging winds Tuesday night and Wednesday morning…

A frosty winter wonderland!... Pic taken 12/12/2021

A frosty winter wonderland!… Pic taken 12/12/2021

Sunday – 12 Dec 2021 – 1:40pm

The past…

At Stevens Field the high yesterday was 25 and the low this morning was 3. The cold spots hit -5! Peak winds yesterday afternoon at the airfield were 4mph.

There was no precip in the last 24 hours.

Weather Underground temps at 7:11am this morning: Temps ranged from -2 to 26(?!).  The average was in the single digits and the coldest was -5.
Weather Underground temps at 7:11am this morning: Temps ranged from -2 to 26(?!).  The average was in the single digits and the coldest was -5.

Forecast discussion…

Today and tomorrow 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 will result in nasty winds.

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

Friday through Sunday I’m still not sure about.  Some models keep us unsettled with scattered showers while others keep us dry.  Either way, I don’t expect much.

Water vapor satellite this afternoon: Ridging is keeping us mostly clear.  There are a few high cirrus clouds spilling over the ridge into western Colorado. The Tuesday night/Wednesday system will develop along the jet stream off the West Coast.
Water vapor satellite this afternoon: Ridging is keeping us mostly clear.  There are a few high cirrus clouds spilling over the ridge into western Colorado. The Tuesday night/Wednesday system will develop along the jet stream off the West Coast.

My forecast…

Today and tomorrow… We’ll see lots of sun through late tomorrow when clouds will start increasing ahead of the next system. Highs this afternoon will be a little warmer in the upper 30s to mid-40s and lows will be 0 to 15. Tomorrow temps will be a few degrees warmer.

Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday… There will be more clouds, precip, gusty winds, and a chance for thunderstorms. 

This system will start on the warm side with the dreaded “r” word up to 8,500ft into Tuesday evening.  Then the snow level will lower to 8,000ft around midnight and then down to 7,000ft a few hours later as the front moves through.  There is also a chance for thunderstorms in the middle of the night. The best chance for precip is sunset Tuesday to late Wednesday morning.  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.

There is potential for damaging winds. The strongest winds will occur 3am-11am Wednesday morning, peaking around 50mph in the valley and 60-70mph in the high country.

*** Expect periods of heavy snow, blowing snow, poor visibility, and potentially damaging winds late Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, especially above 8,000ft. I’d be prepared for another round of power outages. ***

My forecast snow amounts…

Valley below 8,000ft: 1-3”

Valley above 8,000ft: 3-6”

Mountains above 9,000ft: 12-18”

I’ll continue to tweak the timing, snow amounts, and winds as the data gets better.

NWS 66hr snowfall to Wednesday morning shows less than an inch in the valley and 8-13” in our mountain. Note that this doesn’t include the entire period.
NWS 66hr snowfall to Wednesday morning shows less than an inch in the valley and 8-13” in our mountains. Note that this doesn’t include the entire period.
NWS 66hr liquid equivalent to Wednesday morning shows 0.60” in Pagosa and 1.1” up at Wolf Creek. Note that this doesn’t include the entire period.

When compared to the snowfall product above, it’s clear that the NWS expects primarily a rain event in the valley. The amount of warm air is tricky to forecast and could significantly impact snow totals.
NWS 66hr liquid equivalent to Wednesday morning shows 0.60” in Pagosa and 1.1” up at Wolf Creek. Note that this doesn’t include the entire period.

When compared to the snowfall product above, it’s clear that the NWS expects primarily a rain event in the valley. The amount of warm air is tricky to forecast and could significantly impact snow totals.
Euro 500mb, roughly 18,000ft, winds at 5am Wednesday morning are nearly 100mph over much of Archuleta County.
Euro 500mb, roughly 18,000ft, winds at 5am Wednesday morning are nearly 100mph (at 18,000ft) over much of Archuleta County.
Euro max surface wind gust at 5am Wednesday morning shows 62mph for Pagosa Springs.
Euro max surface wind gust at 5am Wednesday morning shows 62mph for Pagosa Springs.

Wind recap… There is a strong jet stream associated with a strong cold front moving through early Wednesday morning.  Mixing associated with the front and potential convective activity (i.e. thunderstorms) will result in strong, possibly damaging, winds.  The Euro model tends to over-forecast winds which is why I’m going with “around 50mph” at this time. 

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… Expect periods of clouds and isolated showers, mostly over the mountains.  I don’t expect much precip. Highs will be in the mid-30s to low 40s and lows will be 5 to 15.

Pagosa Springs historical data

Average HighRecord High / YearAverage LowRecord Low / Year
4055 / 19346-32 / 1961

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

My next update will be tomorrow afternoon.

– Shawn

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Shawn Pro

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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