A break for Christmas…

Falling Snow

12-24-21: 10am update…

At Stevens Field the high yesterday was 41 degrees and the low this morning was 31 degrees. Those of us who have cleaned out our COCORAHS gauges and melted the snow have reported 0.51-1.08 of liquid as of 8am. Snowfall reports have ranged from 1 inch to 7.7 inches (at Shawn and Arleen’s home). Wolf Creek Ski area reports 14 inches of snow over the past 24 hours. As I mentioned yesterday, elevation will really make a difference in snow today until a trough and colder air move through around sunset.

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COCORAHS melted precipitation reports as of 8am this morning.

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COCORAH snowfall reports as of 8am this morning

As I write this post at 9am we have moderate snow falling outside. A quick reminder that because our two closest Doppler Radar sites are 200 miles away, snow barely if at all, shows up on apps and radar imagery…it’s really frustrating, but until we can either install our own here in Pagosa Springs or the one in Durango goes online, that is the situation.

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Because of our mountains and the fact that our nearest Doppler radars are at Grand Junction and Albuquerque, snowfall is not showing up in Pagosa Springs this morning despite what I see looking out my window!

Winter Weather Advisory for Pagosa Springs continues through Christmas morning at 5am

* WHAT…Wet snow expected. Total snow accumulations 4 to 8 inches of up to 12 inches. Winds gusting as high as 35 mph. * WHERE…San Juan River Basin. * WHEN…Today through 5 AM MST Saturday. * IMPACTS…Travel could be very difficult. Areas of blowing snow could significantly reduce visibility, especially on ridge tops and mountain passes. A detailed map of the snowfall can be found at: www.weather.gov/gjt/winter.

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Area that includes our Winter Weather Advisory.

As of 9:25am Wolf Creek Pass is still open and there are skiers at the ski area.

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Wolf Creek Pass is open as of 9:25am.
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Some devoted skiers are braving the elements today at Wolf Creek Ski Area!

Here is the warning for Wolf Creek Pass:

…WINTER STORM WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT until 11 AM MST SATURDAY… * WHAT…Heavy snow expected. Total snow accumulations of 12 to 24 inches. Local accumulations of up to 32 inches for the eastern San Juan mountains. Winds gusting as high as 70 mph causing considerable blowing and drifting snow over the higher elevations. * WHERE…Eastern San Juan Mountains Above 10000 Feet, Western Mosquito Range and East Lake County Above 11000 Feet and Eastern Sawatch Mountains Above 11000 Feet Counties. * WHEN…From 11 AM this morning to 11 AM MST Saturday. * IMPACTS…Travel could be very difficult to impossible. Widespread blowing snow could significantly reduce visibility. Very strong winds could cause power outages, especially south of highway 50.

There is also an Avalanche Watch:

Avalanche Watch issued December 23 at 8:11AM MST by NWS Denver CO THE FOLLOWING MESSAGE IS TRANSMITTED AT THE REQUEST OF THE COLORADO AVALANCHE INFORMATION CENTER. * WHAT…Avalanche Watch * WHERE… CAIC Forecast Zones: Steamboat and Flat Tops, Front Range, Vail and Summit County, Sawatch, Aspen, Gunnison, Grand Mesa, North San Juan and South San Juan zones * WHEN… Begin on Thursday night December 23 through at least Friday December 24 * IMPACTS… Widespread dangerous conditions are expected across large portions of Colorado on Thursday night and Friday. Dangerous conditions may linger for a few days.

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Moisture continues to flow into our area from the SW. An approaching trough and cold front will lower our snow levels this afternoon, switching our snow-rain mix to all snow. This trough will also give us about an 18 hour break in the snow on Christmas Day.

Moisture continues to flow into our area from the SW. Snow levels will remain around 7500 feet during the day today, so depending on where you are, you could see a mix of rain and snow. An approaching trough and cold front will lower our snow levels this afternoon, switching our snow-rain mix to all snow. As the trough approaches, look for our winds to start gusting to over 30mph, so blowing snow could become an issue later today. This trough will also give us about a 24-hour break in the snow on Christmas Day. Another trough will move through early Sunday morning, bringing more snow and some wind with it on Sunday.

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.

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Here is the latest HRRR model run as of this morning. This model shows us that we can expect another 7 inches of snowfall (at the airport), ending around 3am on Christmas morning. As you look at the graph, notice that the snowfall totals don’t move the rest of the day and into Sunday morning. Also notice that wind gusts could approach 40mph around sunset this afternoon.
nbm conus colorado total snow 10to1 1640347200 1640350800 1641232800 10
Here is the latest NBM model run from this morning through Jan 3rd. Notice the pause on Christmas Day. It’s now forecasting a little less snow than it was yesterday for the same time period, but 3 feet is still a lot!
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Here is the latest 3 day snowfall forecast from the NWS (ends on Monday). Circled are Pagosa Springs, Wolf Creek and Chama, NM.

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…

This afternoon: Cloudy with a mix of snow and rain throughout the day for Pagosa Springs. If you live in the 7500-8000 foot elevation is will be all snow. This afternoon winds will pick up out of the SW and we could see some gusts approaching 40mph…watch out for blowing snow and low visibilities. Lowering snow levels this afternoon will switch the rain-snow mix to all snow.

Tonight-Christmas Day: Snow will continue until just after midnight, then give us a break for Christmas Day, with just a few snow showers during the day. It will be mostly cloudy with highs in the mid 30’s.

Saturday nightSunday: More snow with wind gusts to 40mph and a high only around freezing.

Monday: Another slight break in between storm with a chance for snow showers.

Monday night-Wednesday: More snow!

Snow totals:

The rest of the day: 3-5 inches for Pagosa Springs, 5-10 inches for 7500-8000 feet and 15-25 inches for the mountains.

Tonight-Christmas morning: 1-3 inches for Pagosa Springs and surrounding areas and 5-10 inches for the mountains.

Christmas Day:  1/2-1 inch for Pagosa Springs and surrounding areas and 1-2 inches for the mountains.

Saturday nightSunday: 3-5 inches for Pagosa Springs and surrounding areas and 5-10 inches for the mountains.

Monday: 1/2-2 inches for Pagosa Springs and surrounding areas and 2-4 inches for the mountains.

By New Year’s we could be looking at a total of 3-4 feet total for Pagosa Springs and double that 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
3856/ 19434-34/ 1990

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