Friday night and Saturday should be “fun”…

The valley is socked in with low clouds and fog but it’s a glorious day up at Wolf Creek!  – Wolf Creek Ski Area web cam capture 12/21/2023 around 7:40am

The valley is socked in with low clouds and fog but it’s a glorious day up at Wolf Creek!  – Wolf Creek Ski Area web cam capture 12/21/2023 around 7:40am

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Thursday – 21 Dec 2023 – 10:45am

The past…

At Stevens Field the high temperature yesterday afternoon was 47. The low this morning was 34.

The peak wind at Stevens Field yesterday afternoon was 8mph.

Average HighRecord High / YearAverage LowRecord Low / Year
3855 / 19582-32 / 1951

Precipitation summary… The weak trough that moved through last night dropped a little more precip than I expected.  Wolf Creek reported 1” of new snow this morning and the pass looked slick.

Snow reports ranged from zero to 1”.
Snow reports ranged from zero to 1”.
Precip reports ranged from a trace to 0.17”
Precip reports ranged from a trace to 0.17”

Forecast discussion…

Water vapor satellite this morning – A trough moved through last night.  A ridge, the blue jagged line, will keep us dry for the next 24-36 hours. The low off the southern CA coast is expected to track to our south on Saturday.
Water vapor satellite this morning – A trough moved through last night.  A ridge, the blue jagged line, will keep us dry for the next 24-36 hours. The low off the southern CA coast is expected to track to our south on Saturday.

There is nothing on radar in our area this morning.

Forecast Highlights…

*** The heaviest precip will be Friday night through Saturday evening. Scattered showers will linger through Sunday. ***

*** Travel over Wolf Creek Pass will be sketchy late Friday evening to Sunday evening. ***

*** I expect winter watches and warnings to be issued for the mountains soon. ***

This winter storm is sponsored by The Springs Resort!

Thursday afternoon through Friday evening… Transient ridging will give us partly to mostly cloudy skies, light winds, and temps 5-10 degrees above average.

Winds… Peaks Thursday afternoon will 5-10mph.

Temps…  Highs Thursday and Friday will be in the low to high 40s and lows will be in the low to high 20s.

Friday night through Sunday night… A complicated double-barrel low pressure system will impact us. The first one will move to our south on Saturday. The second will move over Colorado on Sunday.

Ideally, we need moist flow from the south or southwest and strong storm energy for good precip.  Things line up nicely Friday night to Saturday evening.  Flow on Sunday doesn’t line up well for us but proximity to the low will kick up scattered snowshowers. I don’t expect much additional accumulation on Sunday.

Forecast confidence… I’m confident we’ll get 0.70” to 1” of liquid equivalent in the valley and 1” to 1.75” of liquid equivalent in the mountains. I’m not confident about the snow levels and how much of that liquid equivalent will be snow in the valley. A difference of just a couple of hundred feet will have a big impact on snow amounts.

Timing… The first few showers will develop over the mountains Friday evening and over the valley by midnight. The best chance for precip is late Friday evening to Saturday evening. Off and on showers will persist into Sunday evening, especially over the mountains. The bulk of the precip will occur Friday night to late Saturday evening.

Snow levels… Friday night snow levels will be 8,000 to 8,200ft. They’ll gradually drop to 7,600ft between sunrise Saturday and noon and continue to gradually drop to 7,200ft by sunset on Saturday. As snow levels drop farther Saturday night, moisture and precip will decrease.

Snow amounts…

Below 7,800ft: 2-4” – most of this will fall Saturday afternoon and evening

Valley above 7,800ft: 3-7” – most of this will fall Saturday morning to Saturday evening

Mountains: 12-20” – most of this will fall Friday night to Saturday night

Winds… Peaks will be 10-15mph

Temps… Friday night lows will be in the high 20s to mid-30s.  Saturday highs will be in the mid-30s to low 40s and lows will be in the high teens to high 20s.  Highs Sunday will be in the low to high 30s and lows will be in the mid-single digits to mid-teens.

NBM liquid equivalent precip shows 0.91” in the Pagosa area, 0.66” for Chama, and 1” to 1.75” in our mountains.  This looks reasonable to me.
NBM liquid equivalent precip shows 0.91” in the Pagosa area, 0.66” for Chama, and 1” to 1.75” in our mountains.  This looks reasonable to me.
NBM snowfall shows 2.6” in the Pagosa area, 3.1” for Chama, and 12-20” in our mountains. This also looks reasonable to me but snow amounts will be more if the system is colder than expected or less if the system is warmer than expected.
NBM snowfall shows 2.6” in the Pagosa area, 3.1” for Chama, and 12-20” in our mountains.
This also looks reasonable to me but snow amounts will be more if the system is colder than expected or less if the system is warmer than expected.

Christmas Day… The main low will be over Kansas/Oklahoma. We’ll have cyclonic, northerly flow over us which will keep things unstable enough to kick up brief, isolated snowshowers, mostly over the mountains. A few big fat Christmas snowflakes falling gracefully from the sky are possible for a few lucky spots.

Snow amounts…

Valley: a dusting in a few lucky spots

Mountains: up to an inch

Winds… Peaks in the afternoon will be 10-15mph.

Temps… Highs will be 30 to 40 and lows will be 0 to 10.

My next 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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