Will be an interesting afternoon and then things wind down this evening…

Love snowshoeing in our deep spring snow! – Pic taken 3/20/2023

Love snowshoeing in our deep spring snow! – Pic taken 3/20/2023

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Wednesday – 22 Mar 2023 – 11:30am

The past…

At Stevens Field the high temperature in the last 24 hours was 40 and the low since midnight was 33 right around midnight. There is still no wind data for the airfield. Our peak wind was 33mph so far this morning.

Average HighRecord High / YearAverage LowRecord Low / Year
5269 / 194017-9 / 1944

Precipitation summary… Wolf Creek reported 17” of snow in the last 24 hours and 45” for the storm. Snow hung on in the valley longer than I expected but it was wet and heavy and slow to accumulate.  Finally, between 3 and 4am, winds picked up, temps jumped 2-4 degrees, and precip changed to rain and a sloppy mix for much of the Pagosa area. 24-hour liquid equivalent amounts are impressive!

CoCoRaHS 24-hour snowfall reports across Archuleta County range from zero near Trujillo around 6,500ft elevation to 11” near Chromo at just over 8,400ft. Hillary was the snow lottery winner again!
CoCoRaHS 24-hour snowfall reports across Archuleta County range from zero near Trujillo around 6,500ft elevation to 11” near Chromo at just over 8,400ft. Hillary was the snow lottery winner again!
CoCoRaHS 24-hour precip reports across Archuleta County range from 0.85” to 1.45”. Lisa was the precip lottery winner in San Juan River Village!
CoCoRaHS 24-hour precip reports across Archuleta County range from 0.85” to 1.45”. Lisa was the precip lottery winner in San Juan River Village!

Forecast discussion…

Water vapor satellite this morning – The main trough is still sitting off the CA coast.  It will weaken as it moves through our area tonight. Before that happens, that leading trough and a strong jet stream, green arrows, will continue to funnel moisture towards us and keep things unstable.
Water vapor satellite this morning – The main trough is still sitting off the CA coast.  It will weaken as it moves through our area tonight. Before that happens, that leading trough and a strong jet stream, green arrows, will continue to funnel moisture towards us and keep things unstable. 
Radar this morning – Showers are moving quickly from the southwest towards the northeast.
Radar this morning – Showers are moving quickly from the southwest towards the northeast.

Important highlights…

*** The “atmospheric river” event will taper off later this afternoon and then scattered snowshowers will persist through the night, mostly over the mountains. ***

*** Temps will remain above freezing and we’ll see a sloppy precip mix until colder air filters in this afternoon. Be prepared for power outages, rising streams, and flooding in low-lying areas. ***

*** Travel conditions will be treacherous over Wolf Creek Pass. Visibility will be near zero at times with heavy snow and blowing snow. ***

*** The Pueblo NWS has issued a WINTER STORM WARNING for the eastern San Juan Mountains valid until Thursday at 6am. An additional 1-2 feet of snow, thunderstorms, and winds to 75mph along ridgelines are expected. This includes Wolf Creek Pass. ***

*** There is an AVALANCHE WARNING in effect until 5pm Thursday. Conditions are rated “extreme” – the most dangerous rating. ***

Through this evening… The “atmospheric river” event will taper off later this afternoon. Depending on elevation, some precip 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 gusty winds will persist into the evening.

Storm sponsored by The Springs Resort

Heavy wet snow + strong winds are a recipe for power outages! These were the number of people impacted by power outages at 8:40am this morning.
Heavy wet snow + strong winds are a recipe for power outages! These were the number of people impacted by power outages at 8:40am this morning.

Timing… Precip will fall on and off, heavily at times, through later this afternoon and then will gradually taper off through this evening. The bulk of the precip will be done by this evening, but scattered showers will linger overnight, especially over the mountains.

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

Winds… Will gust into the 35-45mph range into Wednesday evening and then gradually weaken tonight.

Snow levels… Will bounce around between 7,700ft and 8,200ft until 1-3pm and then will start lowering. As moisture decreases during the afternoon and precip becomes more scattered, the snow level will drop below 7,000ft.

My precip forecast from Wednesday morning to Thursday morning…

Valley below 7,800ft: 0.20” to 0.50” of liquid equivalent and 1-2” of snow

Valley above 7,800ft: 0.25” to 0.60” of liquid equivalent and 2-6” of snow

Mountains above 9,000ft: 12-20” of snow!

NWS snowfall from 6am this morning to 6am Thursday morning shows 1-3” in town and around 24” near Wolf Creek.
NWS snowfall from 6am this morning to 6am Thursday morning shows 1-3” in town and around 24” near Wolf Creek.

Thursday and Friday… 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, especially Friday afternoon. Like usual with showers, they’ll be hit and miss.

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

Winds… Thursday afternoon gusts will be in the 10-20mph range and Friday afternoon gusts will be in the 20-25mph range.

Snow amounts…

Valley: 0-2” – it will be spotty

Mountains: 2-4”

WPC 48-hour precip from Wednesday evening to Friday evening shows 0.06” in town and up to 0.25” in our mountains. This is showery precip so it will be spotty.
WPC 48-hour precip from Wednesday evening to Friday evening shows 0.06” in town and up to 0.25” in our mountains. This is showery precip so it will be spotty.

Saturday and Sunday… A system is trying to become more organized for Saturday night and Sunday. At this point, I don’t trust the details, but it doesn’t look impressive.

Temps… Highs will be in the low to mid-30s and lows will be around zero to the low teens. The cold spots could flirt with record lows!

Winds… Gusts in the afternoon will be in the 15-20mph range.

Snow amounts…

Valley: 1-3”

Mountains above 9,000ft: 3-7”

WPC 48-hour precip from late Friday evening to late Sunday evening shows 0.16” in town and up to 0.60” in our mountains.
WPC 48-hour precip from late Friday evening to late Sunday evening shows 0.16” in town and up to 0.60” in our mountains.

My next post will be sometime tomorrow. I’ll include a storm wrap-up, snowpack, drought, river flow, and Navajo Lake levels.  It should be interesting!

– 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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