Potentially dangerous storm Tuesday night and Wednesday morning…

A glorious day up at Wolf Creek!... Pic taken 12/13/2021

A glorious day up at Wolf Creek!… Pic taken 12/13/2021

Monday – 13 Dec 2021 – 4:00pm

The past…

At Stevens Field the high yesterday was 40 and the low this morning was 9. The cold spots hit 5. Peak winds yesterday afternoon at the airfield were 4mph.

There was no precip in the last 24 hours.

Forecast discussion…

The upper level ridge has moved to our east so we’ll see more high clouds this afternoon and then clouds will increase tomorrow ahead of the system.

Late Tuesday into Wednesday morning a strong cold front will move through. A strong jet stream, cold air advection, moist air advection, and storm energy will result in a very active night.

Thursday through Sunday… a weak trough will move through Thursday night and Friday and kick up a few spotty snowshowers but this period will be pretty quiet.

Water vapor satellite this afternoon: The ridge has moved to our east and upper level southwest flow is taking over. Those are nearly all high clouds across the Four Corners region.
Water vapor satellite this afternoon: The ridge has moved to our east and upper level southwest flow is taking over. Those are nearly all high clouds across the Four Corners region.

My forecast…

Rest of today… It will be mostly sunny with high clouds increasing. Lows tonight will be 5 to 20.

Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday afternoon… Scattered showers will start after noon, especially over the mountains, and then ramp up around sunset.  The heaviest precip, and a thunderstorm or two, is likely between sunset and mid-morning. Scattered showers will end in the valley by noon and linger into mid-afternoon over the mountains.

The snow level will be around 8,500ft until midnight, then lower to 8,000ft for a few hours, and then drop rapidly below 7,000ft after the front moves through between 5am and 7am.  The heavy precip will taper off pretty quickly behind the front and become more showery.

Potentially damaging winds peaking in the 50-60mph range in the valley and 70-80mph range in the mountains are possible between 3am and 11am.

Highs tomorrow will be in the mid-40s and the highs on Wednesday will occur shortly after midnight in the lower to mid-30s.  The lows Wednesday night will be -5 to 10.

*** Summary: The worst weather will occur within a couple of hours ahead of and behind the front from roughly 3am to 9am. Expect periods of heavy snow, blowing snow, poor visibility, a thunderstorm or two, and potentially damaging winds.  I’d be prepared for another round of power outages. ***

*** The Grand Junction NWS has issued a WINTER STORM WARNING for the southwest San Juan Mountains valid 5pm Tuesday to 5pm Wednesday for 8-16” of snow with locally higher amounts and winds gusting to 80mph along ridge lines. *** For clarity, this does not include Pagosa Springs.

*** The Grand Junction NWS has issued a HIGH WIND WATCH for the San Juan River Basin, which includes Pagosa Springs, valid Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday morning for southerly winds 30-40mph with gusts to 60mph. *** This watch will likely be upgraded to a warning as the storm nears.

My forecast snow amounts…

Valley below 8,000ft: 1-3”

Valley above 8,000ft: 3-6”

Mountains above 9,000ft: 12-18”

The High Resolution Rapid Refresh (HRRR) model forecast radar between 1am and 11am Wednesday morning shows the cold front moving west to east across Archuleta County between 4am and 7am.
The High Resolution Rapid Refresh (HRRR) model forecast radar between 1am and 11am Wednesday morning shows the cold front moving west to east across Archuleta County between 4am and 7am.
The red vertical box captures the potential mayhem associated with the cold front between roughly 3am and 9am. The temps, in the top row, drop quickly from the mid-30s into the teens. We also pick up a quick 2” of snow. And winds are in the 38mph to 52mph range (in the red oval near the bottom). This model tends to under-forecast precip amounts and wind speeds.
The High Resolution Rapid Refresh (HRRR) meteogram for Pagosa Springs: I like this product because there is a whole bunch of info and it’s easy to track trends. It’s read left to right with the most current time on the left.  Times are along the bottom, and they are in EST (so subtract 2 hours).

In the blue vertical box around noon, the first round of showers moves through. Temps, at the top, are still cool so the model expects snow. Note that temps warm into the 40s between the blue and green boxes.

The green vertical box indicates another band of showers around 9pm, this time rain.

The red vertical box captures the potential mayhem associated with the cold front between roughly 3am and 9am. The temps, in the top row, drop quickly from the mid-30s into the teens. We also pick up a quick 2” of snow. And winds are in the 38mph to 52mph range (in the red oval near the bottom). This model tends to under-forecast precip amounts and wind speeds.
NWS snowfall for Colorado shows 1-2” in town and up to 24” in our mountains.
NWS snowfall for Colorado shows 1-2” in town and up to 24” in our mountains.
NWS 66hr snowfall focused on the San Juans shows 2” in Pagosa and 14” up at Wolf Creek.
NWS 66hr snowfall focused on the San Juans shows 2” in Pagosa and 14” up at Wolf Creek.

Thursday through Sunday… Expect partly cloudy skies.  A few spotty snowshowers are possible Thursday night and Friday, mainly over the mountains.  Snowfall will be under an inch and spotty. 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
3954 / 19295-28 / 1961

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

My next update will be tomorrow morning.

– 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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