Impressive “spring” storm Monday morning to Wednesday evening…

Run-off has started in the valley. This little stream near the Humane Society doesn’t usually look like this. – Pic taken 3/19/2023

Run-off has started in the valley. This little stream near the Humane Society doesn’t usually look like this. – Pic taken 3/19/2023

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Sunday – 19 Mar 2023 – 3:30pm

The past…

At Stevens Field the high temperature in the last 24 hours was 38 and the low this morning was 22. There is still no wind data for the airfield. Our peak wind was 8mph yesterday around 9pm.

Average HighRecord High / YearAverage LowRecord Low / Year
5173 / 190716-4 / 1917

Precipitation summary… Wolf Creek reported 4” of snow this morning and another 3” this afternoon for a total of 7”. My precip forecast stunk yesterday. More snow fell than I forecast. What happened?

In my forecast yesterday I said 0 to a half inch in the valley and 1-2” in the mountains. I expected a trough to move through in the middle of the night, which did.  The trough was weakening, and I expected there to be hardly anything left of it.  However, the trough held together and kicked up more snow than I expected.

CoCoRaHS 24-hour snowfall reports range from a trace to 2”. Lisa was the snow lottery winner just south of Echo Canyon Reservoir!
CoCoRaHS 24-hour snowfall reports range from a trace to 2”. Lisa was the snow lottery winner just south of Echo Canyon Reservoir!

Forecast discussion…

Water vapor satellite this afternoon – The high clouds on the leading edge of our in-coming system are increasing now. The deeper moisture is still well to our west ahead of the trough.
Water vapor satellite this afternoon – The high clouds on the leading edge of our in-coming system are increasing now. The deeper moisture is still well to our west ahead of the trough.
Radar this afternoon – There is nothing indicated in our area.  There also isn’t much associated with those clouds over AZ. That will change overnight as the system gets more storm energy from the jet stream and starts lifting that moisture over the higher terrain.
Radar this afternoon – There is nothing indicated in our area.  There also isn’t much associated with those clouds over AZ. That will change overnight as the system gets more storm energy from the jet stream and starts lifting that moisture over the higher terrain.

Important highlights…

*** Monday morning through Wednesday evening we’ll have another “atmospheric river” event. This one will be our strongest. It will ramp up Monday morning through the evening, lull Monday night into Tuesday morning, and then ramp up again Tuesday afternoon to early Wednesday afternoon. Things will finally taper off Wednesday evening. ***

*** Temps will be a little cooler but remain mostly above freezing so snow will be wet and heavy. Rain will fall at times in town. Be prepared for power outages, rising streams, and flooding in low-lying areas. ***

*** Travel conditions will be treacherous, especially over Wolf Creek Pass. At times visibility will be near zero with heavy snow and blowing snow. I expect Wolf Creek Pass to be closed at times. Make sure to check CDOT for current conditions. ***

*** The Pueblo NWS has issued a WINTER STORM WARNING for the eastern San Juan Mountains valid 9am Monday to Thursday at 6am. 2-4 feet of snow is expected with winds gusting to 75mph. This includes Wolf Creek Pass. ***

This evening to sunrise Monday morning… Clouds will increase and the chance for scattered showers will increase after midnight. Scattered showers will increase 2-6am tomorrow morning – first over the mountains and then over the valley.

Temps… Lows will be in the high teens to high 20s.

Snow by 7am tomorrow morning…

Valley: 0-2”

Mountains: 2-4”

Around sunrise Monday through Wednesday evening… The next “atmospheric river” event will impact us.  A whole bunch of moisture is headed our way. In town some will be rain, some will be heavy wet snow, and some will be a sloppy mix. In addition, an isolated thunderstorm or two is possible Tuesday night through Wednesday afternoon.

Storm sponsored by The Springs Resort

Note… Precip is coming in a little earlier, so I adjusted timing. I also adjusted snow totals for the mountains.

Timing… Scattered showers will increase 2-6am tomorrow morning – first over the mountains and then over the valley. Precip will ramp up Monday after sunrise and fall moderately to heavily until midnight.  Precip will decrease, and even stop at times, midnight through Tuesday morning.  Then it will ramp up again and fall moderately to heavily Tuesday afternoon through early Wednesday afternoon. Precip will gradually taper off through late Wednesday afternoon. The bulk of the precip will be done by Wednesday evening, but scattered showers will linger through Thursday afternoon, 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 high 20s to low 30s and then Wednesday night lows will be in the high teens to mid-20s.

Winds… Monday afternoon and evening winds will be 15-25mph and then decrease Monday night. Tuesday afternoon winds will peak in the 15-20mph range and then increase Tuesday night into the 20-30mph range. By late Wednesday morning, they’ll be in the 25-35mph range with peaks around 40mph in the windy spots into Wednesday evening. Winds will gradually weaken Wednesday night.

Snow levels… Will start Monday morning below 6,500ft and by Monday afternoon they’ll increase into the 6,900ft to 7,300ft range, and then decrease below 6,800ft Monday night. Tuesday afternoon to early Wednesday afternoon they’ll bounce around between 7,000ft and 7,600ft. As moisture decreases Wednesday evening and precip becomes more scattered, the snow level will drop below 7,000ft.

My precip forecast…

Valley below 7,600ft: 1.50” to 2.00” of liquid equivalent and 6-12” of snow

Valley above 7,600ft: 1.75” to 2.25” of liquid equivalent and 12-20” of snow

Mountains above 9,000ft: 36-54” of snow!

WPC total precip loop Monday at 6am to Thursday at 6am – The maps are valid at 6am Monday, 6am Tuesday, 6am Wednesday, and 6am Thursday.  Amounts are precip totals to that point.  Subtracting the difference between each map is the expected 24-hour precip. This forecast product is a blend of models and is one of the few models that gets human input and is tweaked accordingly. Totals for Pagosa start at 0.11” then go to 0.91”, 1.62”, and finally 2.22”.  The total for Chama is 2.42” and 4-5” for our mountains! *** Weather geek time… To determine snow amounts, we usually start with a 10:1 ratio.  However, this time of year, and with most of this precip falling with temps 32 to 36 degrees, I expect the ratio to be closer to 6:1 near Pagosa. This would result in 12-13” total snowfall for town. As you go up in elevation, you get slightly more precip with slightly cooler temps, so I expect snow ratios to be as high as 8:1 in those parts of the valley. That results in about 20” of snow in those areas! ***
WPC total precip loop Monday at 6am to Thursday at 6am – The maps are valid at 6am Monday, 6am Tuesday, 6am Wednesday, and 6am Thursday.  Amounts are precip totals to that point.  Subtracting the difference between each map is the expected 24-hour precip. This forecast product is a blend of models and is one of the few models that gets human input and is tweaked accordingly.

Totals for Pagosa start at 0.11” then go to 0.91”, 1.62”, and finally 2.22”.  The total for Chama is 2.42” and 4-5” for our mountains!

*** Weather geek time… To determine snow amounts, we usually start with a 10:1 ratio.  However, this time of year, and with most of this precip falling with temps 32 to 36 degrees, I expect the ratio to be closer to 6:1 near Pagosa. This would result in 12-13” total snowfall for town. However, some of this will fall as rain which will drop snow amounts for town below 10″. As you go up in elevation, you get slightly more precip with slightly cooler temps, so I expect snow ratios to be as high as 8:1 in those parts of the valley. That results in about 20” of snow in those areas! ***
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 11.6” for Pagosa, 17” for Chama, and 36-61” 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 11.6” for Pagosa, 17” for Chama, and 36-61” 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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3 Responses

  1. The pagosa weather team rocks! I’ve been getting your updates for about a week and today was the first time I really read all of the data. So much info and so helpful and interesting. Doing this as a community service goes above and beyond. Thanks to all involved for the hard work and the attempt to achieve complete accuracy…we all know that Mother Nature sometimes has a wry sense of humor with her attempts to thwart your accuracy, lol.

  2. Peggy, Happy travels to you & your family. I’m so glad you find our service useful. There is always a chance we’ll meet you out in our beautiful neighborhood!

    The Pagosa Weather Team

  3. Thank you Shawn and team. You guys are the best. We live in Bulverde Tx and spend a week or two in March staying up on O’Neal Hill. We only follow what your report says. We left this morning to head home. Happy to miss this weeks storm.
    We will be back in August for a month with our rv at Bruce Spruce Ranch. Maybe someday we will meet. Thank you again.

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