Sloppy mess in the valley and mountain snow on the way!…

The blue birds are back! – Pic taken 3/14/2023

The blue birds are back! – Pic taken 3/14/2023

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Wednesday – 15 Mar 2023 – 12:15pm

The past…

At Stevens Field the high temperature so far today has been 38. The low since midnight last night was 33. Winds yesterday afternoon peaked at 9mph.

Average HighRecord High / YearAverage LowRecord Low / Year
4862 / 199515-10 / 1912

Precipitation summary… A little bit of precip fell overnight. Wolf Creek reported 1” of snow this morning. Up to 0.30” of snow was reported in the valley.

Forecast discussion…

Water vapor satellite this morning – Moisture will increase quickly over the next couple of hours and then stick with us through tomorrow.
Water vapor satellite this morning – Moisture will increase quickly over the next couple of hours and then stick with us through tomorrow.
Radar this afternoon – That area of precip is headed east ahead of the trough. Much of the precip over southeast UT and northeast AZ is not showing up. Surface observations upstream nearly all indicate rain.
Radar this afternoon – That area of precip is headed east ahead of the trough. Much of the precip over southeast UT and northeast AZ is not showing up. Surface observations upstream nearly all indicate rain.

Rest of today through Thursday night… The next push of an “atmospheric river” is on our doorstep. Moisture will increase quickly over the next few hours and stick with us through tomorrow. The amount of warm air and snow levels are going to be challenging again.

Storm sponsored by The Springs Resort

Temps… Today highs will be in the high 30s to mid-40s and lows will be in the high 20s to mid-30s.  Thursday highs will be in the high 30s to low 40s and lows will be in the high teens to mid-20s.

Winds… Peaks winds will be in the 15-20mph range.

Snow levels… Will bounce around the 8,000ft to 8,500ft range until around midnight tonight. Then snow levels will gradually lower to around 7,000ft by tomorrow morning. During the day Thursday, snow levels will bounce around the 7,000ft to 7,500ft range. Tomorrow night, as moisture decreases and showers become more hit and miss, snow levels will drop below 6,000ft.

Timing… Precip will ramp up this afternoon and fall moderately to heavily at times into Thursday morning. Scattered snowshowers will persist into Thursday night, especially over the mountains.

Precip amounts…

Valley below 7,600ft: 0.60” to 1.10” of liquid equivalent and 1-4” of snow

Valley above 7,600-8,400ft: 0.75” to 1.20” of liquid equivalent and 3-7” of snow

Valley above 8,400ft: 0.80” to 1.30” of liquid equivalent and 5-10” of snow

Mountains above 9,000ft: 20-30” of snow

*** In the valley we’ll get a sloppy mix of rain and heavy wet snow. Precip will transition to rain/snow during the day today, and then switch back to snow late this evening. Roads in the valley could be slick tonight and Thursday morning. ***

*** The Pueblo NWS has issued a WINTER STORM WARNING for the eastern San Juan mountains above 10,000ft – this includes Wolf Creek Pass. It’s for 1-2 feet of snow with locally higher amounts and winds to 50mph valid midnight tomorrow. ***

There is also a warning for the southwest San Juan mountains, but it does not specify an elevation. The warning area includes many of us in the Pagosa area above 7,500ft. However, I do not expect most of us to get the snow amounts indicated in that warning due to warm air and snow levels 8,000-8,500ft.

NBM snowfall to 6am Friday shows 2.7”, up to 6” closer to the mountains, 20-30” for our mountains, and a 32.7” bullseye for the high peaks of the South San Juans. ** Snowfall for Pagosa Springs on the various models this morning varies from around 1” to 13”. That’s a considerable difference, especially for a storm that’s within the next 48 hours. Snow amounts will hinge on the amount of warm air and snow levels. I’m confident we’ll see around 1” of liquid equivalent precip in the valley. I’m not so confident about snow levels and snow amounts. **
NBM snowfall to 6am Friday shows 2.7” for Pagosa, up to 6” closer to the mountains, 20-30” for our mountains, and a 32.7” bullseye for the high peaks of the South San Juans.

** Snowfall for Pagosa Springs on the various models this morning varies from around 1” to 13”. That’s a considerable difference, especially for a storm that’s within the next 48 hours. Snow amounts will hinge on the amount of warm air and snow levels. I’m confident we’ll see around 1” of liquid equivalent precip in the valley. I’m not so confident about snow levels and snow amounts. **
NWS high resolution 72-hour snowfall forecast model shows 3” for Pagosa, up to 6” above 8,000ft and closer to the mountains, 8” for Chama, 31” for Wolf Creek Pass, and up to 45” for the high peaks of the South San Juans.
NWS high resolution 72-hour snowfall forecast model shows 3” for Pagosa, up to 6” above 8,000ft and closer to the mountains, 8” for Chama, 31” for Wolf Creek Pass, and up to 45” for the high peaks of the South San Juans.
NWS high resolution 72-hour precip forecast model shows 1.10” for Pagosa, up to 1.30” closer to the mountains, 1.30” for Chama, 2.2” for Wolf Creek Pass, and up to 2.96” for the high peaks of the South San Juans.
NWS high resolution 72-hour precip forecast model shows 1.10” for Pagosa, up to 1.30” closer to the mountains, 1.30” for Chama, 2.2” for Wolf Creek Pass, and up to 2.96” for the high peaks of the South San Juans.

Friday and Saturday… The pattern will remain unsettled but disorganized.  There will be less moisture to work with and limited storm energy, but we’ll continue to see hit and miss showers, especially over the mountains.

Temps… Highs will be in the mid-30s to low 40s and lows will be in the high teens to mid-20s.

Winds… Afternoon winds will peak in the 15-20mph range.

Precip forecast…

Valley: 0-2” of snow

Mountains above 9,000ft: 3-6” of snow

Sunday and Monday… Very similar to Friday and Saturday – The pattern will remain unsettled but disorganized.  There will be less moisture to work with and limited storm energy, but we’ll continue to see hit and miss showers, especially over the mountains.

Temps… Highs will be in the mid-30s to mid-40s and lows will be in the low to high 20s.

Winds… Afternoon winds will peak in the 15-20mph range.

Precip forecast…

Valley: 0-2” of snow

Mountains above 9,000ft: 4-8” of snow

Tuesday through Thursday morning… The next system will move through.  The track, moisture, and storm energy are lining up for another round of precip. Same challenge as the previous two systems: amount of warm air and snow levels.

This storm is a week out, so there is still considerable uncertainty. I’ll do a rough first guess on precip amounts in Friday’s post. Right now, it looks pretty similar to the system moving through today and tomorrow.

Euro ensemble 72-hour precip from Tuesday evening to Thursday evening indicates 1.32” of precip for Pagosa. At this time, forecast models range from 0.50” to 1.5”. Just like the previous 2 storms before this one, warm air and snow levels are going to be a challenge.
Euro ensemble 72-hour precip from Tuesday evening to Thursday evening indicates 1.32” of precip for Pagosa. At this time, forecast models range from 0.50” to 1.5”. Just like the previous 2 storms before this one, warm air and snow levels are going to be a challenge.

My next forecast post will be tomorrow.

– 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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