Winter storm warnings are out!…

Snowshoeing yesterday during one of the brief but intense snowshowers... Pic taken 12/29/2021

Snowshoeing yesterday during one of the brief but intense snowshowers… Pic taken 12/29/2021

Thursday – 30 Dec 2021 – 10:00am

The past…

At Stevens Field the high temp in the last 24 hours was 28 and the low was 23. The peak wind at the airfield was 18mph.

Precip in the last 24 hours… Mother Nature’s snow machine just keeps on giving! Snowshowers were hit and miss, but intense with big fluffy flakes that accumulated quickly.  Snowfall in the valley varied quite a bit, but the average was 3” to 4”.

Wolf Creek reported 11” of new snow in the last 24 hours.  They now have 91” of snow in the last week!  They will end this storm cycle with well over 100”!

On the 1st, I‘ll include a storm cycle summary in my daily post.  I’ll also do a separate post to summarize December and provide a January outlook.

CoCoRaHS 24hr snowfall totals vary from 1.0” to 4.8” with an average of 3” to 4”.
CoCoRaHS 24hr snowfall totals vary from 1.0” to 4.8” with an average of 3” to 4”.

Wolf Creek Pass has been closed a few times this week due to poor visibility, strong winds, and avalanche mitigation.  More closures are possible through New Year’s morning.  Keep an eye on COtrip for the latest travel conditions: COtrip web page

Wolf Creek Pass cam this morning - poor visibility and snowpacked roads
Wolf Creek Pass cam this morning – poor visibility and snowpacked roads

Forecast discussion…

We’ll get intermittent light snow during the day.  By this evening, the leading edge of the system will move into our area and snow will ramp up overnight.  It will snow pretty good most of Friday and then taper off Friday night as the system moves to our east.

Starting the afternoon of the 1st, ridging will build in and give us quiet weather for 5-7 days.  Upper level flow will turn more northwesterly and dry out for us – a more typical La Nina pattern.

Water vapor satellite this morning: Moisture continues to push into the area from the southwest. The low will track into NM and keep moisture funneling into our area.  The trough currently across northern ID and OR will enforce the low with colder air and keep Mother Nature’s snow machine going into Saturday morning.
Water vapor satellite this morning: Moisture continues to push into the area from the southwest. The low will track into NM and keep moisture funneling into our area.  The trough currently across northern ID and OR will enforce the low with colder air and keep Mother Nature’s snow machine going into Saturday morning.
Radar this morning: It isn’t picking up anything in our area.  Showers to the northwest are moving southeast towards us and the showers associated with the low off the southern CA coast are moving northeast towards us.
Radar this morning: It isn’t picking up anything in our area.  Showers to the northwest are moving southeast towards us and the showers associated with the low off the southern CA coast are moving northeast towards us.

My forecast…

Today through New Year’s morning… Intermittent light snow will fall during the day in the valley and fall more steadily in the mountains. The heaviest snow will fall from this evening to tomorrow evening. Then snowshowers will become more scattered after midnight tomorrow.  Scattered snowshowers will linger into New Year’s morning in the valley and into the afternoon in the mountains.

Winds will consistently gust into the 25-30mph range tonight and into tomorrow afternoon in the valley and around 50mph in the mountains.

High temps will be in the mid-20s to mid-30s. Lows tonight will be in the upper teens to mid-20s and then Friday night 0 to 15.

Snowfall during this period…

– Valley: 10-18”

– Mountains: 24-36”

*** The Grand Junction NWS has issued a WINTER STORM WARNING for the San Juan Basin, which includes Pagosa Springs, valid from 5pm this afternoon to 5am Saturday. It’s for 6-12” of snow. *** I expect Pagosa Springs to be near the top of this range and areas closer to the mountains to get up to 18”.

*** The Grand Junction NWS has issued a WINTER STORM WARNING for the southwest San Juan Mountains valid to 11am Saturday. It’s for 12-24” of snow with localized amounts up to 3ft and winds to 50mph. *** Wolf Creek will get around 3ft!

*** The Colorado Avalanche Information Center has issued an AVALANCHE WATCH valid until tomorrow morning at 8am. *** Avalanche conditions will remain very dangerous through New Year’s.

NWS snowfall for Colorado between 5am this morning and 5pm Saturday shows 12-18” for Pagosa Springs and around 3FT for Wolf Creek.
NWS snowfall for Colorado between 5am this morning and 5pm Saturday shows 12-18” for Pagosa Springs and around 3FT for Wolf Creek.
NWS snowfall for northern NM for those of you traveling
NWS snowfall for northern NM for those of you traveling
NWS 72hr snowfall focused on the San Juans shows 13” in town and 30” at Wolf Creek.  Circled in red in the upper right is the max of 44.5”.  The other red circle is around that max near Summit and Montezuma Peaks.
NWS 72hr snowfall focused on the San Juans shows 13” in town and 30” at Wolf Creek.  Circled in red in the upper right is the max of 44.5”.  The other red circle is around that max near Summit and Montezuma Peaks.
The NWS snowfall loop from 11am today to 11am on Saturday: Each map is for a 6-hour period.  Snow falls lightly and accumulates slowly through this afternoon – just 1.1”.  Then snow ramps up this evening and falls pretty good into tomorrow evening and then tapers off Friday night to total 13.2” in town by Saturday at 11am.
The NWS snowfall loop from 11am today to 11am on Saturday: Each map is for a 6-hour period.  Snow falls lightly and accumulates slowly through this afternoon – just 1.1”.  Then snow ramps up this evening and falls pretty good into tomorrow evening and then tapers off Friday night to total 13.2” in town by Saturday at 11am.

New Year’s afternoon through Monday…  We’ll see mostly sunny skies.  We’ll get our first glimpse of the mountains Saturday afternoon – they will be splendid! Have your camera ready for sunset on Saturday! Patchy morning fog is possible in the low lying areas.

Temps will start well below average on Saturday and then warm to average by Monday. Highs on Saturday will be in the upper teens to mid-20s, on Sunday in the upper 20s to lower 30s, and on Monday in the 30s.  Lows Saturday night will be -10 to 5, and Sunday and Monday nights -5 to 10.

Pagosa Springs historical data

Average HighRecord High / YearAverage LowRecord Low / Year
3555 / 19561-25 / 1909

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

My next post 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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