Buckle up!…

Beautiful sunset last night! We might not see the mountains for a while. – Pic taken 2/20/2023

Beautiful sunset last night! We might not see the mountains for a while. – Pic taken 2/20/2023

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Tuesday – 21 Feb 2023 – 4:15pm

The past…

At Stevens Field the high temp in the last 24 hours was 45. The low this morning was 14. The peak wind at the airfield in the last 24 hours was 22mph.

Average HighRecord High / YearAverage LowRecord Low / Year
4364 / 19589-22 / 1955

Precipitation summary… There has been no recent measurable precipitation.

Forecast discussion…

Water vapor satellite this afternoon – Thicker clouds will be moving in from the west this evening. Our storm is just starting to get its act together.
Water vapor satellite this afternoon – Thicker clouds will be moving in from the west this evening. Our storm is just starting to get its act together.
Radar this afternoon – Precip is increasing across northwest UT and northern NV. It will continue to increase tonight and develop over the Four Corners area as the upper level trough deepens.
Radar this afternoon – Precip is increasing across northwest UT and northern NV. It will continue to increase tonight and develop over the Four Corners area as the upper level trough deepens.

Rest of today and Wednesday… Storm 1… A vigorous cold front will move through tomorrow afternoon. We’ll see occasional blizzard conditions Wednesday. 

What’s the criteria for a “blizzard”?

– Winds: sustained or frequent gusts 35mph or greater – check!

– Heavy snow, blowing snow, and poor visibility: ¼ mile or less visibility for 3 hours or more – We’ll cut this one close but will see periods of ¼ mile or less.

Storm sponsored by The Springs Resort

Specifics…

Snow… At 3:30pm light snow started to develop over the high country. As I was about to hit “send” at 4:10pm, the first few snowflakes started falling in the Turkey Springs area. Snow coverage and intensity will gradually increase through the evening. In the valley the best chance for heavy snow is after midnight into Wednesday afternoon. In the mountains the best chance for heavy snow is late this evening into tomorrow evening. Scattered snowshowers will persist Wednesday night, especially over the mountains.

Winds… This afternoon winds will gust to around 20mph and then increase overnight.  By sunrise on Wednesday winds will be in the 30-40mph range. Winds will increase to 40-50mph through Wednesday morning and persist into the evening. Peak gusts will be 55-60mph. Winds will decrease some Wednesday night but still gust into the 20-30mph range.  Winds in the mountains will consistently gust 60-70mph early Wednesday morning to late Wednesday evening and peak gusts will be 80-90mph.

Temps… Lows tonight will be in the high 20s to mid-30s shortly before midnight.  High temps Wednesday will be in the early morning hours in the high 20s to mid-30s. Then temps will hover in the upper 20s to low 30s until the cold front moves through around 2pm. Behind the front temps will drop rapidly 5-10 degrees and we’ll be in the teens by sunset.  Lows Wednesday night will be in the mid-single digits to mid-teens.

Highlights…

*** There will be periods of heavy snow after midnight into Wednesday afternoon. Weather and travel conditions will start getting bad early Wednesday morning and just get worse during the day Wednesday. ***

*** Thundersnow is possible roughly 9am to 5pm. ***

*** Winds will gust 40-50mph roughly 8am-9pm Wednesday. Winds will peak 55-60mph 11am-3pm. This will cause significant blowing snow, white-out conditions, and possible power outages. ***

*** Winds in the mountains will consistently gust 60-70mph early Wednesday morning to late Wednesday evening. Winds along mountain ridges could peak in the 80-90mph range roughly 10am to 3pm. ***

*** The Grand Junction NWS has issued a WINTER STORM WARNING for the San Juan River Basin, which includes Pagosa Springs, for 4-10” of snow and winds 45-55mph with potential for higher gusts valid 5pm Tuesday to 5am Thursday. ***

*** The Pueblo NWS has issued a BLIZZARD WARNING for the eastern San Juan mountains which includes Wolf Creek Pass for 1-3 FEET of snow and winds up to 80mph valid 5pm Tuesday to 5am Thursday. ***

*** The Colorado Avalanche Information Center has issued an AVALANCHE WATCH for Wednesday afternoon through Thursday. Large and dangerous avalanches will be easy to trigger. ***

My snow forecast…

Valley: 7-14”

Mountains: 20-30”

NBM snowfall to Wednesday at 11pm – The NBM blends other forecast models for a single solution. Lately it’s been doing pretty well so I’m going with it. It expects 9.8” in town and 20-30” in the mountains. The last couple of model runs have trended up slightly for snow amounts.
NBM snowfall to Wednesday at 11pm – The NBM blends other forecast models for a single solution. Lately it’s been doing pretty well so I’m going with it. It expects 9.8” in town and 20-30” in the mountains. The last couple of model runs have trended up slightly for snow amounts.
NBM max wind gusts Wednesday at 2pm continues to indicate 60mph near Pagosa 80-90mph along our mountain ridges.
NBM max wind gusts Wednesday at 2pm continues to indicate 60mph near Pagosa 80-90mph along our mountain ridges.

Thursday through Friday morning… Storm 2… This storm won’t be as organized and will have less moisture. There will be a bit of a lull Thursday morning, but clouds and scattered snowshowers will persist. Snow will increase slightly Thursday afternoon and into Friday morning. Most of the snow will be done by noon Friday, but a few scattered snowshowers will persist over the mountains through Friday afternoon.

Winds late morning to late afternoon both Thursday and Friday will gust 20-30mph.

Temps… Thursday highs will be in the mid-20s to low 30s and lows will be in the low teens to low 20s.  Friday will be a little warmer with highs in the low to high 30s and lows in the low teens to low 20s.

My snow forecast…

Valley: 2-5”

Mountains: 8-14”

NBM total snowfall to Saturday at 5am – This shows all snowfall to this point, so we have to subtract snow from storm #1: 13” – 9.8” = 3.2” for town.  For the mountains the difference is 10-12”.
NBM total snowfall to Saturday at 5am – This shows all snowfall to this point, so we have to subtract snow from storm #1: 13” – 9.8” = 3.2” for town.  For the mountains the difference is 10-12”.

Saturday… There will be a lull, but mostly cloudy skies will persist and a few spotty snowshowers are possible over the mountains. The lucky spots in the mountains could get an inch.

Sunday… The next system will move through with more clouds and another round of snow. This storm will move through pretty quickly and won’t have much moisture. Snow amounts don’t look impressive. I’ll tackle those in the next day or two.

My next post will be tomorrow morning.  CoCoRaHS reporters, good luck measuring snow! It will be more of an art than a science.

– 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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