Snow levels are going to complicate this forecast…but snow is on the way!

Pagosa Peak

A few decorative altocumulus clouds drifted over Pagosa Peak this morning.

12-21-21: 5:30 pm update…

At Stevens Field the high so far today has been 40 degrees and the low this morning was 8 degrees. There has been zero precipitation over the past 24 hours.

High pressure continues to rule our weather through tomorrow with high temperatures running around 40 and lows in the single digits to low teens. There will be more high clouds moving in from the SW over the next 24 hours.

As new models have arrived, so have timing and snow levels changed. We are still looking at the same setup with a trough forming off California and our upper-level winds switching to SW. What has changed over the past 24 hours is timing…as of this post, I think most of the precipitation will not start moving in before sunset on Thursday. Complicating the valley even more will the relatively high snow levels for this time of the year. This system will be warm and wet, (precipitable water will be running very much above normal values for this time of the year) and it’s possible that Pagosa Springs will mainly see more of a snow-rain mix through Friday night. It will be tricky because the snow levels will be fluctuating from 7300 feet to 7900 feet from Thursday through Friday night, when a cold front (trough) arrives and the levels move lower than 7000 feet. Speaking of cold fronts, this one looks less windy than originally thought with wind gusts now forecast for around 30-35mph vs 50-55mph as was earlier forecast. We will see another trough arriving Saturday night, ramping up our snow odds again through Sunday. At this point, I don’t see this pattern changing through New Year’s, with additional disturbances and snow showers continuing all of next week.

As we all know, our mountains are higher than the valley so snow levels of even 8000 feet will not be a factor at Wolf Creek. Conditions at Wolf Creek Pass will begin to deteriorate quickly by Thursday late afternoon with snow beginning mid-day and ramping up Thursday night. Winds are forecast to gust to near 50mph along with heavy snow through at least Sunday. Check out the links mentioned in the next paragraph for road conditions, etc. The latest model runs are now forecasting up to 30 or more inches of snow for our mountains through Sunday. I would expect some Winter Storm Watches to be issued by this time tomorrow.

A few disclaimers and thoughts for any of you who will be traveling to Pagosa Springs this week via plane, vehicle, walking, biking etc. First of all, we are flattered that you read our forecasts and follow our page, but please remember that when it comes to making travel decisions, we can’t help you due to many reasons, including legal ones. Fortunately, we have travel resources on our website found on the WebCams page to keep you up to date on road conditions and closures, current weather as viewed on cams and flight information from the Durango airport. Remember that the Durango airport gets less snow than Pagosa Springs so even if conditions are bad here, they may not be as bad at the airport. We also can’t issue Winter Storm Warnings or Winter Weather Advisories…that is the responsibility of the NWS. Even if we think there will be the potential for a blizzard in 48 hours, we have to wait until the NWS actually issues a watch or warning before we can post such a warning on our site.

Screenshot 2021 12 21 165059
We are now starting to see our atmospheric players doing their part to bring Pacific moisture into our area from the SW. A low pressure to the west of Oregon will slowly dive SE over the next couple of days. As that occurs, moisture in the mid-levels will switch to the SW and usher in very moist air into our area. Precipitable water will be running very much above normal values for this time of the year.
A cold front and trough will move through on Friday night or early Saturday morning, lowering our snow levels enough so that we should just see all snow Friday night and Saturday.
Screenshot 2021 12 21 161149
Here is the latest Euro model run for snow totals for Pagosa Springs through Sunday. As you can see, snow totals will continue to rise through next week.
Screenshot 2021 12 21 161221
Here is the latest Euro model run for snow totals for Wolf Creek Pass through Sunday. Travel is going to be really tricky from Thursday afternoon through most of next week. As you can see, snow totals will continue rise through next week.
Screenshot 2021 12 21 162519
Here is the latest Euro model run for snow totals for Pagosa Springs through Sunday. As you can see, snow totals will continue to rise through next week.
Screenshot 2021 12 21 162602
Here is the latest Euro model run for snow totals for Wolf Creek Pass through Sunday. As you can see, snow totals will continue to rise through next week.

My forecast…

For those of you who like to “hear” our forecast, we are currently experimenting with a “dial up and text” forecast. Call 877-841-0247 and give it a try! Let us know what you think…

Tonight: Partly cloudy with lows in the single digits and low teens. Winds will be light out of the SW 5-10 mph.

Wednesday: Mostly sunny with highs in low to mid 40’s. Winds will generally be out of the SW 5-10 mph.

Thursday-Sunday: A chance for snow starting on Thursday afternoon, then a mix of snow and rain on Thursday night for Pagosa Springs, but mainly snow for elevations over 8000 feet. Lows will be in the teens on Thursday morning with highs near 40. Friday will be see a mix of rain-snow all day for Pagosa Springs with highs in the upper 30’s and lows in the upper 20’s. For those of us living at around 8000 feet, look for mostly snow with highs only reaching the low to mid 30’s. Snow-rain will continue for Pagosa Springs through midnight, then change to all snow as a cold front moves through and snow levels drop. We could see winds gusting to 30-35mph as the trough moves through. Christmas Day and Sunday will see snow continuing with lows in the 20’s and highs in the mid 30’s.

Snow totals:

Thursday during the day: 0-1/2 inch for Pagosa Springs, 1/2-1 inch for 8000 feet and 2-4 inches for the mountains.

Thursday night-Friday night: 5-10 inches for Pagosa Springs, 8-14 inches for 8000 feet and 10-20 inches for the mountains.

Christmas Day: 1-3 inches for Pagosa Springs, 2-4 inches for 8000 feet and 4-8 inches for the mountains.

Sunday of next week:  1-3 inches for Pagosa Springs, 2-4 inches for 8000 feet and 4-8 inches for the mountains.

-Mark Langford

Check out my Pagosa Peak Cam (myearthcam.com) for watching hikers, bikers and of course, the weather.

Pagosa Springs historical data for November 8th.

Average HighRecord High / YearAverage LowRecord Low / Year
3855/ 19582-32/ 1951

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