Winter Storm Watches have been issued for the mountains…

Just high cirrus clouds today. Pagosa Peak will look very different on Friday morning with a bunch of new snow. – Pic taken 11/1/2022

Just high cirrus clouds today. Pagosa Peak will look very different on Friday morning with a bunch of new snow. – Pic taken 11/1/2022

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Tuesday – 1 Nov 2022 – 2:45pm

Announcement: On Thursday, 3 Nov, at 6:45pm Arleen will be discussing the winter outlook at the PLPOA Clubhouse with the San Juan Outdoor Club. The presentation is open to the public.

The past…

At Stevens Field the high yesterday was 56 and the low this morning was 25. Winds at the airfield hit 9mph yesterday.

Precip summary… There was no precip in the last 2 days.

Forecast discussion…

Today through Wednesday afternoon… Ridging is in control. Patches of high clouds will move through today and we’ll stay dry. Clouds and winds will increase tomorrow afternoon after the ridge moves through. Temps will be near average.

Water vapor satellite this afternoon: High clouds are moving through the Four Corners region. The low and trough are off the Pacific NW coast.  The yellow arrows indicate the expected track.
Water vapor satellite this afternoon: High clouds are moving through the Four Corners region. The low and trough are off the Pacific NW coast.  The yellow arrows indicate the expected track.

Wednesday night through Friday… A pretty strong system is expected to move through the Four Corners area. The latest track for the low pushes it nearly over our heads between midnight Thursday and sunrise Friday.

For travelers, keep a close eye on travel conditions, including the higher sections along I-40 through AZ and NM. In those areas 40-50mph winds and brief periods of poor visibility could be a problem.

*** The Grand Junction NWS has issued a WINTER STORM WATCH for the mountains above 9,000ft for 12” to 20” of snow and winds gusting to 45mph for Wednesday evening through Friday morning. *** This lines up nicely with my snow forecast, but I think the winds could be a little stronger in the mountains on Thursday.

Wednesday evening and overnight… The chance for precip will ramp up through the night. The snow level will be around 8,500ft.

Valley below 8,500ft… Mostly rain with a few occasional snowflakes – no snow accumulation

Mountains above 9,000ft… 5-8” of snow and winds to 45mph

Thursday morning to late afternoon… The snow level will bounce around between 8,000ft and 8,500ft and temps will be above freezing so snow will have trouble sticking in the valley.

Below 8,000ft: Mostly rain occasionally mixed snow – no snow accumulation

Above 8,000ft in the valley: wet snow occasionally mixed with rain – 1-2” of slushy snow on cold surfaces

Above 9,000ft in the mountains: 8-12” and winds to 50mph

Thursday evening to Friday morning… The snow level will drop below 7,000ft and surface temps will drop resulting in snow for the valley. Typical of these systems, moisture will decrease as temps drop which makes the snow forecast tricky.

Below 8,000ft: 1-3”

Above 8,000ft in the valley: 2-4”

Above 9,000ft in the mountains: 3-6”

Friday… The bulk of the snow will be done by sunrise on Friday, and we’ll see gradual clearing with scattered snow showers through the day. Snow will be spotty with up to inch in the valley and 1-3” in the mountains.

Wild cards with this system…

– The amount of warm air. Less warm air than I expect will result in considerably more snow for the valley.  Slightly warmer air will result in less snow.

– The amount of moisture Thursday night as temps cool, and the snow level lowers. If moisture decreases quickly, we’ll get less snow.  If moisture sticks around, we’ll get a little more snow.

Total snowfall forecast

Below 8,000ft: 1-3”

Above 8,000ft in the valley: 3-6”

Above 9,000ft in the mountains: 14-20”

My forecast…

See the forecast discussion above for more specific timing and snow amounts. * The forecast periods are from 8am to 8am. *
See the forecast discussion above for more specific timing and snow amounts.
* The forecast periods are from 8am to 8am. *
The NWS 72-hour snowfall through Friday at noon expects 1.0” for Pagosa and 19” for Wolf Creek.  Note that snow amounts increase above 8,000ft. This lines up well with my expectations.
The NWS 72-hour snowfall through Friday at noon expects 1.0” for Pagosa and 19” for Wolf Creek.  Note that snow amounts increase above 8,000ft. This lines up well with my expectations.
The NWS 72-hour liquid equivalent through Friday at noon expects 1.2” for Pagosa and up to 2.8” in our mountains. IF this system was colder and we got 10:1 ratio snow, that would be 12” of snow for Pagosa and 28” in the mountains.
The NWS 72-hour liquid equivalent through Friday at noon expects 1.2” for Pagosa and up to 2.8” in our mountains. IF this system was colder and we got 10:1 ratio snow, that would be 12” of snow for Pagosa and up to 28” in the mountains.
The NWS forecast table for a point along Plumtaw at 9,000ft – This is one of my favorite products for snow levels. It’s read left to right and the blocks are for either 3 hours or 6 hours. This table is from 6pm Wednesday evening to about 3am Thursday. Let’s focus on the boxes I highlighted starting with the green one for rainfall amounts. The heaviest precip is expected after midnight on Wednesday to Thursday afternoon. Then precip amounts drop quickly Thursday evening (little red downward arrows). The blue box for temperatures indicates that during the heaviest precip, temps will start around 36 and lower to 32. This is at 9,000ft.  Temps will be in the mid to high 30s at lower elevations across much of the valley. Now let’s focus on the red box highlighting the snow levels. During the heaviest precip, snow levels are supposed to be 8,100ft or higher. Now couple the snow levels with the temps, and this looks like mostly a rain/wet snow event for much of the valley.  * The big disclaimer… This is a forecast product, and any forecast product can be off. In this case, if those snow levels are off a few hundred feet in either direction, the result is considerable. This is just one of many products that Pagosa Weather looks at. Every day we try to determine which forecast products look reasonable and which are junk. We weather forecasters make the best decisions with what we consider to be the best data. *
The NWS forecast table for a point along Plumtaw at 9,000ft – This is one of my favorite products for snow levels. It’s read left to right and the blocks are for either 3 hours or 6 hours. This table is from 6pm Wednesday evening to about 3am Thursday.

Let’s focus on the boxes I highlighted starting with the green one for rainfall amounts. The heaviest precip is expected after midnight on Wednesday to Thursday afternoon. Then precip amounts drop quickly Thursday evening (little red downward arrows).

The blue box for temperatures indicates that during the heaviest precip, temps will start around 36 and lower to 32. This is at 9,000ft.  Temps will be in the mid to high 30s at lower elevations across much of the valley.

Now let’s focus on the red box highlighting the snow levels. During the heaviest precip, snow levels are supposed to be 8,100ft or higher. Now couple the snow levels with the temps, and this looks like mostly a rain/wet snow event for much of the valley. 

* The big disclaimer… This is a forecast product, and any forecast product can be off. In this case, if those snow levels are off a few hundred feet in either direction, the result is considerable. This is just one of many products that Pagosa Weather looks at. Every day we try to determine which forecast products look reasonable and which are junk. Then we make the best decisions with what we consider to be the best data. *

Pagosa Springs historical data

Average HighRecord High / YearAverage LowRecord Low / Year
5471 / 1934210 / 1929

My next post 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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