A few more dry days and then SNOW…

Standing lenticular clouds at sunrise – Pic taken 12/24/2022

Standing lenticular clouds at sunrise – Pic taken 12/24/2022

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Saturday – 24 Dec 2022 – 10:25am

The past…

At Stevens Field the high yesterday afternoon was 40. The low this morning was 15. The cold spots dipped to around 10. The peak wind at the airfield was 5mph.

Average HighRecord High / YearAverage LowRecord Low / Year
3856 / 19433-34 / 1990

Precip summary… There has been no recent precip.

Forecast discussion…

Water vapor satellite this morning – Upper level northwest flow is pushing a few clouds into our area. The ridge along the west coast will keep us dry for the next few days.
Water vapor satellite this morning – Upper level northwest flow is pushing a few clouds into our area. The ridge along the west coast will keep us dry for the next few days.

There is nothing on radar this morning in our area.

Today through Tuesday afternoon… Ridging will build along the West Coast and put us under a dry northwest flow pattern. Systems will stay north of us, and we’ll see occasional patches of clouds. Clouds will increase Tuesday ahead of the next system.

Temps will be 5-10 degree above average.

Tuesday evening to Thursday afternoon… A fairly strong, slow moving system, with plenty of moisture will move through. Unfortunately the system will start on the warm side.

Here’s my first guess on snow levels.  They’re going to be challenging!

Tuesday evening: ~8,000ft

Tuesday night to Wednesday afternoon: 7,000-7,600ft

Wednesday evening: below 7,000ft and dropping through the night

*** Roads, especially above 8,000ft, will start getting slick Tuesday night. Expect the worst driving conditions Wednesday night through Thursday afternoon as colder air and steady snow overtake most of the county. ***

First guess snow totals…

– Valley below 7,600ft: 3-5” – most of it will fall Wednesday night through Thursday afternoon

– Valley above 7,600ft: 5-10”

– Mountains: 14-20”

NBM snowfall to Thursday at 5pm expects 5.1” in town and around 15” in the mountains. Most of the other forecast models expect more, but for now I buy this because the warmer air will impact snow amounts in the valley.
NBM snowfall to Thursday at 5pm expects 5.1” in town and around 15” in the mountains. Most of the other forecast models expect more, but for now I buy this because the warmer air will impact snow amounts in the valley.
The CPC liquid equivalent through Thursday at 5pm is more telling. It shows 1.11” in town and around 2” in our mountains. The baseline 10:1 ratio snow would result in 11.1” of snow in town and around 20” in the mountains. However, due to the warm air, some of that 1.11” is going to fall as rain and some will fall as wet 8:1 or 6:1 ratio snow and will have trouble sticking and accumulating. It’s a different story in the mountains where all of the 2” will fall as snow and should pile up to around 20”.
The CPC liquid equivalent through Thursday at 5pm is more telling. It shows 1.11” in town and around 2” in our mountains. The baseline 10:1 ratio snow would result in 11.1” of snow in town and around 20” in the mountains. However, due to the warm air, some of that 1.11” is going to fall as rain and some will fall as wet 8:1 or 6:1 ratio snow and will have trouble sticking and accumulating. It’s a different story in the mountains where all of the 2” will fall as snow and should pile up to around 20”.

30 Dec through 4 Jan… The pattern will stay active with more chances for snow. It’s still too far out to nail down details.

Euro ensemble 24-hour snowfall to 8 Jan at 5pm – This chart is read left to right and times are in zulu. The top chart shows 24-hour snowfall amounts for 50 different versions of the Euro model. Consistency between the 50 versions boosts our forecast confidence. The bottom chart shows the amount variance, the control, and the mean of the 50 versions.  I pay most attention to the mean.  Forecast confidence increases when the control and the mean line up fairly closely. First glance tells me that we’ve got a shot at snow every day starting Tuesday evening and there is potential for 3 storms. Confidence drops as we get to storm #3 because there is more variance.  And for storm #1 confidence is still shaky on amounts because the control has 4” while the mean is around 8”.  This is because the warmer air will impact snow amounts. We also compare this to other forecast models and many other products. Right now, this model expects the most snow and I’m leery that we’ll get this much.
Euro ensemble 24-hour snowfall to 8 Jan at 5pm – This chart is read left to right and times are in zulu.

The top chart shows 24-hour snowfall amounts for 50 different versions of the Euro model. Consistency between the 50 versions boosts our forecast confidence.

The bottom chart shows the amount variance, the control, and the mean of the 50 versions.  I pay most attention to the mean.  Forecast confidence increases when the control and the mean line up fairly closely.

First glance tells me that we’ve got a shot at snow every day starting Tuesday evening and there is potential for 3 storms. Confidence drops as we get to storm #3 because there is more variance.  And for storm #1 confidence is still shaky on amounts because the control has 4” while the mean is around 8”.  This is because the warmer air will impact snow amounts. We also compare this to other forecast models and many other products. Right now, this model expects the most snow and I’m leery that we’ll get this much.
This is total snow for the three primary forecast models.  On top, the Euro mean is around 30”.  In the middle, the GFS mean is around 25”. And on the bottom, the Canadian mean is around 18”. The trend is very similar for all three forecast models - good, but the amounts vary quite a bit – not so good. As of today, I could see 15-20” in the valley and at least 3 FEET in the mountains between late 27 Dec and 4 Jan!
This is total snow for the three primary forecast models.  These charts are read left to right and times are in zulu.

On top, the Euro mean is around 30”.  In the middle, the GFS mean is around 25”. And on the bottom, the Canadian mean is around 18”. The trend is very similar for all three forecast models – good, but the amounts vary quite a bit – not so good. As of today, I could see 15-20” in the valley and at least 3 FEET in the mountains between late 27 Dec and 4 Jan!

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. *

Mark will take over tomorrow.  Let’s hope the weather keeps him busy!

– 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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