We’re just getting started – The main event is Tuesday afternoon to Wednesday afternoon…

The pups love their morning romp in the snow! – Pic taken 3/20/2023

The pups love their morning romp in the snow! – Pic taken 3/20/2023

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Monday – 20 Mar 2023 – 10:45am

The past…

At Stevens Field the high temperature in the last 24 hours was 40 and the low this morning was 27. There is still no wind data for the airfield. Our peak wind was 14mph yesterday around 7pm.

Average HighRecord High / YearAverage LowRecord Low / Year
5168 / 199717-1 / 1917

Precipitation summary… Wolf Creek reported 7” of snow in the last 24 hours but 3” fell during the day yesterday and 4” fell overnight. Snow amounts in the valley were pretty evenly spread.

CoCoRaHS 24-hour snowfall reports across Archuleta County range from 2.3” to 4.3”. Hillary was the snow lottery winner near Chromo!
CoCoRaHS 24-hour snowfall reports across Archuleta County range from 2.3” to 4.3”. Hillary was the snow lottery winner near Chromo!

Forecast discussion…

Water vapor satellite this morning – One batch of moisture moved through last night and the next one will move through this afternoon and evening.  The green arrows indicate the “atmospheric river”.
Water vapor satellite this morning – One batch of moisture moved through last night and the next one will move through this afternoon and evening.  The green arrows indicate the “atmospheric river”.
Radar this morning – The Four Corners radar donut hole is hiding precip in our area like usual. The precip over central AZ and southwest UT will move through our area later this afternoon and evening.
Radar this morning – The Four Corners radar donut hole is hiding precip in our area like usual. The precip over central AZ and southwest UT will move through our area later this afternoon and evening.

Important highlights…

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

*** Temps will 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 and winds to 75mph are expected. This includes Wolf Creek Pass. ***

*** There is a WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY out for the San Juan River basin until noon. This includes Pagosa Springs.  *** The reason this expires at noon is because that’s about when snow levels will rise above town’s elevation and precip will turn to a rain/snow mix. Those of us above about 7,500ft will see all snow today.

Monday morning 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. An isolated thunderstorm or two is possible this afternoon, and Tuesday night through Wednesday afternoon. It will also be windy on Wednesday. Heavy wet snow + strong winds are a recipe for power outages!

Storm sponsored by The Springs Resort

Timing… Precip will ramp up this afternoon 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 mid-30s and then Wednesday night lows will be in the mid-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, winds will be in the 30-40mph range with peaks around 45mph in the windy spots into Wednesday evening. Winds will gradually weaken Wednesday night.

Snow levels… This morning they’re around 6,500ft and by this 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 7,200ft and 7,800ft. 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: 40-54” of snow!

WPC total precip loop Monday at noon to Thursday at 6am – The maps are valid at 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 0.79”, then go to 1.73”, and finally 2.32”.  The total for Chama is 1.91” 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 at and above freezing, 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 to 9-10". 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! ***
WPC total precip loop Monday at noon to Thursday at 6am – The maps are valid at 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 0.79”, then go to 1.73”, and finally 2.32”.  The total for Chama is 1.91” 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 at and above freezing, 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 to 9-10″.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! ***
NWS “official” snowfall to Thursday at noon…  It shows 10-17” for Pagosa. I think town will get 9-10” and just a few hundred feet higher outside of town will see 10-16”. Those of us above 7,900ft will see closer to 20”. It’s amazing to see much of the mountains maxed out with 36+ inches!
NWS “official” snowfall to Thursday at noon…  It shows 10-17” for Pagosa. I think town will get 9-10” and just a few hundred feet higher outside of town will see 10-16”. Those of us above 7,900ft will see closer to 20”. It’s amazing to see much of the mountains maxed out with 36+ inches!
NWS 72-hour forecast model for snow from this morning to Thursday morning focused on our area shows better detail. It indicates 13” for the airfield, around 10” downtown, around 20” above 7,900ft and closer to the mountains, 15” for Chama, 62” for Wolf Creek Pass, and has an 88.2” bullseye over the high peaks of the south San Juans. This looks reasonable to me!
NWS 72-hour forecast model for snow from this morning to Thursday morning focused on our area shows better detail. It indicates 13” for the airfield, around 10” downtown, around 20” above 7,900ft and closer to the mountains, 15” for Chama, 62” for Wolf Creek Pass, and has an 88.2” bullseye over the high peaks of the south San Juans. This looks reasonable to me!
NWS 72-hour forecast model for precip focused on our area shows 2.3” near town, 2” for Chama, 3.8” for Wolf Creek Pass, and has a 5.42” bullseye over the high peaks of the south San Juans.
NWS 72-hour forecast model for precip focused on our area shows 2.3” near town, 2” for Chama, 3.8” for Wolf Creek Pass, and has a 5.42” bullseye over the high peaks of the south San Juans.

Thursday through Saturday… Upper level flow will stay zonal, west to east. There will be little pieces of energy moving quickly through the pattern and enough moisture to fuel occasional showers. The best chance for showers is each afternoon, but like usual with showers, they’ll be hit and miss.

Temps… Highs will be in the low 30s to low 40s.  Lows will be in the high single digits to high teens. 

Winds… Afternoon gusts will be in the 10-20mph range.

Snow for this entire period…

Valley: 1-3” – it will be spotty

Mountains: 3-6”

I’ll do a quick a Facebook post this evening. My next thorough 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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