Scattered showers through the weekend – The next storm is a doozy!…

Toner Mountain made a brief appearance last evening – Pic taken 3/16/2023

Toner Mountain made a brief appearance last evening – Pic taken 3/16/2023

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Friday – 17 Mar 2023 – 11:15am

The past…

At Stevens Field the high temperature in the last 24 hours was 38. The airfield sensor stopped reporting at 3:35am so the low temp is unknown. Most of us had lows in the 10 to 20 range though there were a few cold pockets. Here in O’Neal Park we had a low of -5 – brrrrr. Wind data has been missing since 10:15am yesterday. Our peak wind was 11mph yesterday around 1pm.

Average HighRecord High / YearAverage LowRecord Low / Year
5067 / 197216-12 / 1917

Precipitation summary… Wolf Creek reported 12” of snow in the last 24 hours and 26” total for the storm. Bands of heavy snowshowers moved through the area yesterday afternoon and dropped a quick 1-6” of snow on most of us.  Snowshowers became more hit and miss during the evening.

An interesting observation… We measured 4.8” of wet snow yesterday evening.  Clouds cleared out, we had fog much of the night, and our temp dropped to -5. By morning, that heavy wet snow dried into powder.

CoCoRaHS 2-day snowfall totals range from 1” to 9”.  Arleen was the snow lottery winner in O’Neal Park!
CoCoRaHS 2-day snowfall totals range from 1” to 9”.  Arleen was the snow lottery winner in O’Neal Park!
CoCoRaHS 2-day precip totals range from 1.04” to 2.38”. Lisa was the precip lottery winner in San Juan River Village!
CoCoRaHS 2-day precip totals range from 1.04” to 2.38”. Lisa was the precip lottery winner in San Juan River Village!
Snowpack for the western US for 17 March – We’re at 155%. Look at all of those dark blue areas with over 150%. I look forward to Thursday’s update after the next storm!
Snowpack for the western US for 17 March – We’re at 155%. Look at all of those dark blue areas with over 150%. I look forward to Thursday’s update after the next storm!
Storm sponsored by The Springs Resort

Forecast discussion…

Water vapor satellite this morning – Short term: The trough has stalled in our area and there is just enough moisture for scattered showers to develop this afternoon and into the evening. And I think we’ll see a repeat tomorrow.  Long term: Here we go again – Another “atmospheric river” is headed our way.  This one will slip a little farther south, allowing more moisture to make it around the CA mountains, and then funnel directly into AZ and southwest Colorado.
Water vapor satellite this morning –
Short term: The trough has stalled in our area and there is just enough moisture for scattered showers to develop this afternoon and into the evening. And I think we’ll see a repeat tomorrow. 

Long term: Here we go again – Another “atmospheric river” is headed our way.  This one will slip a little farther south, allowing more moisture to make it around the CA mountains, and then funnel directly into AZ and southwest Colorado.
Euro precipitable water percent of average – Precipitable water is the moisture available for precipitation. By Monday evening, on the left, precipitable water is over 170% of average in our area. That southwest fetch is ideal for us. By Tuesday evening, on the right, precipitable water is around 200% of average in our area. And the southwest fetch is still prevalent. Parts of southern AZ are 300% of average! This is significant. I expect flooding for parts of AZ, southern UT, NM, and yes, southwestern CO.
Euro precipitable water percent of average – Precipitable water is the moisture available for precipitation.

By Monday evening, on the left, precipitable water is over 170% of average in our area. That southwest fetch is ideal for us.

By Tuesday evening, on the right, precipitable water is around 200% of average in our area. And the southwest fetch is still prevalent. Parts of southern AZ are 300% of average! This is significant. I expect flooding for parts of AZ, southern UT, NM, and yes, southwestern CO.
Radar this morning – Nothing is showing up in our area this morning and I don’t see any precip being reported in nearby surface observations. I expect scattered showers to develop this afternoon and into the evening.
Radar this morning – Nothing is showing up in our area this morning and at 9am I don’t see any precip being reported in nearby surface observations. I expect scattered showers to develop this afternoon and into the evening.

Important highlights…

*** The AVALANCHE WARNING for our mountains expired at 7am this morning, but the rating is “considerable”. Make sure to check current conditions and be safe out there! ***

*** Monday evening through Wednesday night we’ll have another “atmospheric river” event. This one will be our strongest. It will ramp up Monday night, peak Tuesday, and then gradually taper off through Wednesday. Temps will be cooler so more of this precip will be snow. ***

*** Temps will be above freezing much of the time so snow will be wet and heavy. Be prepared for power outages, rising streams, and flooding in low-lying areas. ***

Friday and Saturday… A weakening trough has stalled in our area.  There is just enough residual moisture to help fuel scattered afternoon and evening showers, especially over the mountains.

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

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

Precip forecast…

Valley: 1-3” of snow but it will be spotty

Mountains above 9,000ft: 3-6” of snow

Sunday through Monday morning… There will be even less moisture and less storm energy, but a shower or two is possible in the mountains.

Temps… Highs will be in the high 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: Mostly zero but the lucky spots could get up to 1” of snow

Mountains above 9,000ft: 1-3” of snow but it will be spotty

Monday night through Thursday morning… The next “atmospheric river” event will impact us.  This will be our strongest one. The track, moisture, and storm energy are lining up to bring us a whole bunch of moisture. Though this system will be a little cooler overall, the amount of warm air and snow levels will be tricky to forecast again.

Timing… The first few scattered showers will develop over the mountains late Monday morning and then over the valley after noon. Precip will ramp up Monday evening.  Moderate to heavy precip will fall most of Tuesday and into Wednesday morning. Precip will gradually taper off through the second half of Wednesday. The bulk of the precip will be done by late Wednesday evening, but spotty showers will linger through Thursday morning, especially over the mountains.

Temps… Highs will be in the mid-30s to low 40s. Lows Monday night and Tuesday night will be in the mid-20s to low 30s and then Wednesday night lows will be in the high teens to mid-20s.

Winds… Tuesday afternoon winds will peak in the 15-20mph range and then increase Tuesday night into the 20-30mph range. They’ll stay in the 20-30mph range through Wednesday afternoon and then decrease Wednesday night.

Snow levels… Will start Monday afternoon in the 6,500ft to 7,000ft range and stay in that range through Tuesday morning. Tuesday afternoon and evening they’ll bounce around between 7,000ft and 7,500ft. Tuesday night and Wednesday snow levels will drop back into the 6,500ft to 7,000ft range.

My precip forecast…

Valley below 7,600ft: 1.00” to 1.50” of liquid equivalent and 5-10” of snow

Valley above 7,600ft: 1.25” to 1.75” of liquid equivalent and 10-18” of snow

Mountains above 9,000ft: 30-50” of snow!

WPC total precip to Thursday at 6am… This forecast product is a blend of models and is one of the few models that gets human input and is tweaked accordingly. It shows 2.04” for Pagosa, 2.30” for Chama, and 4-5” for our mountains!

NBM snowfall to Thursday at 6am… This is also blended model that uses data from numerous other forecast models. Right now, I agree with this for snowfall. It shows 8.5” for Pagosa, 14.8” for Chama, and 30-50” for our mountains!

My next forecast post will be tomorrow.

– 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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