Snow tonight into tomorrow morning…

Clouds are capping our mountains this afternoon – pic taken 1/10/2024

Clouds are capping our mountains this afternoon – pic taken 1/10/2024

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Wednesday – 10 Jan 2024 – 2:30pm

The past…

At Stevens Field the high temperature yesterday afternoon was 22. The low this morning was -4. The cold spots dropped into the negative mid-teens.

The peak wind at Stevens Field yesterday afternoon was 6mph.

Average HighRecord High / YearAverage LowRecord Low / Year
3762 / 19442-22 / 1964

Precipitation summary… There was no measurable precip in the last 24 hours.

Forecast discussion…

Water vapor satellite this afternoon – Upper-level flow is out of the northwest over us. The trough over ID and NV will dip far enough south tonight and tomorrow morning to give us another round of snow.
Water vapor satellite this afternoon – Upper-level flow is out of the northwest over us. The trough over ID and NV will dip far enough south tonight and tomorrow morning to give us another round of snow.

There is nothing on radar in our region this afternoon.

Forecast Highlights…

*** Avalanche danger is still rated “considerable”. ***

*** The Grand Junction NWS has issued a Winter Weather Advisory for the southwest San Juan Mountains. It’s for 5-12” of snow with up to 18” for the favored slopes of the eastern San Juans. It’s valid from 5pm Wednesday to 5pm Thursday. *** This does not include Pagosa Springs.

*** Driving conditions will deteriorate late Wednesday night and likely be lousy by Thursday morning. ***

*** Another round of snow is likely Saturday night and Sunday. ***

Wednesday afternoon to Thursday evening… The next system will move through Thursday afternoon. It looks more favorable, but storm energy, moisture, upper-level winds, and trajectory could be lined up better.

Timing… Scattered snowshowers will start over the mountains late Wednesday afternoon and over the valley in the evening.  The best chance for snow is late Wednesday night into Thursday morning. Snowshowers will taper off in the valley early Thursday afternoon but will linger over the mountains into Thursday evening.

*** Driving conditions will deteriorate late Wednesday night and likely be lousy by Thursday morning. ***

Snow amounts:

Valley: 3-7”

Mountains: 8-15”

Winds… Peaks both afternoons will be around 15mph.

Temps… Wednesday highs will be in the mid-20s to near 30 and lows will be in the high single digits to high teens.  Thursday highs will be in the low to high 20s and lows Thursday night will be 0 to -15.

NWS forecast snowfall shows 4-6” for Pagosa and 8-12” for Wolf Creek.
NWS forecast snowfall shows 4-6” for Pagosa and 8-12” for Wolf Creek.
This is the product I like best for this storm.  It’s the NWS 72-hour liquid equivalent forecast model. This system will be cold like the last one.  Surface temps will be in the mid to high teens during the most favorable period for snow. Temps up at Wolf Creek will be in the single digits.  This results in dry powdery snow that accumulates efficiently. For the last storm, snow ratios in the valley were mostly in the 15:1 to 20:1 range. I’m thinking we’ll be around 20:1 for this system. Using this forecast product, that means 6” for the Pagosa area, 10” for Chama, 2.6” for Bayfield, and 14” for Wolf Creek.
This is the product I like best for this storm.  It’s the NWS 72-hour liquid equivalent forecast model.

This system will be cold like the last one.  Surface temps will be in the mid to high teens during the most favorable period for snow. Temps up at Wolf Creek will be in the single digits.  This results in dry powdery snow that accumulates efficiently. For the last storm, snow ratios in the valley were mostly in the 15:1 to 20:1 range.

I’m thinking we’ll be around 20:1 for this system. Using this forecast product, that means 6” for the Pagosa area, 10” for Chama, 2.6” for Bayfield, and 14” for Wolf Creek.

Thursday night to Friday night… We’ll get a brief break between storms.  We’ll see periods of clouds, especially Thursday night and Friday night. A few spotty snowshowers are possible over the mountains.  Lucky spots in the mountains could get up to 2”.

Winds… Peaks will be around 15mph.

Temps… Highs Friday will be in the high teens to mid-20s. Clouds Friday night should prevent us from getting frigid. Lows will be -5 to +5.

Saturday into Monday morning… I still don’t like how this system is lining up and the forecast models are all over the place.

This storm will be moving through the region from the northwest.  The northern and central mountains will be favored. We’ll just get scraps.

The best storm energy and moisture will be Saturday night and Sunday morning. Unfortunately upper-level flow will be mostly from the west instead of our more favorable southwest flow. Unless this system dives a little farther south, it has more potential to be a dud than a decent storm for us.

Snow amounts…

Valley: 3-7”

Mountains: 6-12”

Winds… Peaks will be around 15mph Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

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

NBM total liquid equivalent to Monday at 5am. This includes all precip to this point, so we have to subtract the amount from the first storm in the image above.  Plus it requires more math to convert to snow amounts. This system will be a little warmer so I’m going with 15:1 ratio. For this storm that equals 5.5” for Pagosa, 2.6” for Chama, 4.8” for Bayfield, and 6-12” for our mountains. I mentioned a considerable range of outcomes… Forecast two-day storm totals range from 4.5” for the GFS ensemble to 17” for the Canadian model! The models are trending up, but I don’t like how things are setting up. For now I’m sticking with the recently reliable NBM.
NBM total liquid equivalent to Monday at 5am. This includes all precip to this point, so we have to subtract the amount from the first storm in the image above.  Plus it requires more math to convert to snow amounts.

This system will be a little warmer so I’m going with a 15:1 ratio. For this storm that equals 5.5” for Pagosa, 2.6” for Chama, 4.8” for Bayfield, and 6-12” for our mountains.

The forecast models continue to indicate a considerable range of outcomes… Forecast two-day storm totals range from 4.5” for the GFS ensemble to 17” for the Canadian model! The models are trending up, but I still don’t like how things are setting up. For now I’m sticking with the recently reliable NBM.

I’ll do a quick Facebook post first thing tomorrow morning and then a more thorough post later.

– 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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2 Responses

  1. Hi Shawn,

    I love reading the forecasts you guys share – you are all an invaluable asset to our community. I am new to this area after teaching in Denver for almost 30 years and I was wondering if you could clarify for me what this means in your posts. What is considered the “valley” area and what is considered “mountains?” In my mind, valley is hwy 160 that run through Pagosa and mountains are everything above 10,000? Just curious.
    Valley: 3-7”
    Mountains: 8-15”

    thank you,

    Jules

    1. Hello Jules! “The valley” is anything below 8,500ft – where most of us live in the Pagosa area. A snow forecast range of 3-7” would be 3” for the lower parts of the valley, like downtown, and 7” for the higher parts of the valley like my house at 8,000ft. Terrain plays a huge role in our weather and makes many of our forecasts quite challenging. Thanks so much for this question! – Shawn

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