Fun Cloud Day! They’re Flocking in with Snow Later!

A number of colorful balloons flying against the mountains.

It was a beautiful morning for the Winterfest Balloon Ascension! – pic taken 1/20/2024

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Saturday – 20 Jan 2024 – 4:00pm

It was a chilly morning with only high cirrus clouds, light winds, and unrestricted visibilities. Perfect weather for the balloons to fly this morning! Which was good since they’ll have several flight concerns tomorrow morning as the weather moves in.

Shout out to the Pagosa Springs Medical Center today – our Snowman Sponsor. Shawn had a little nip and tuck on the inside of his knee yesterday. It is such a peace of mind to have a first class facility in our home town. Huge thanks to Dr. Webb, Judy, Greg, Susie and the rest of the surgical staff for taking good care of Shawn. He is up and walking around on it today.

Pagosa Medical Center

Back to the weather…

The past…

At Stevens Field the high temperature this afternoon has been 46 and the low this morning was 16.

The wind at Stevens Field this afternoon peaked at 5mph.

Average HighRecord High / YearAverage LowRecord Low / Year
3856 / 19863-21 / 1960

Precipitation summary… There are no reports of Precipitation from CoCoRaHS observers or at Wolf Creek Ski Resort.

Forecast discussion…

Sat 20 Jan JPG
Satellite: Lots of moisture streaming into southwest Colorado today. A weak frontal boundary is moving east from the Great Basin area.

Radar: There is nothing on radar in our area this afternoon.

Forecast Highlights…

*** Chance for light snow tonight till Monday afternoon. ***

The upstream pattern is high zonal with a number of developing areas of low pressure, frontal boundaries, and copious amounts of moisture all moving slowly from the eastern Pacific to the west coast. Unfortunately, the trajectory of these systems are either too north or too south. So for the next few weeks, we’ll have light snow without heavy accumulations.

However, during the first week in February it appears that a Goldilocks system will approach southwest Colorado from just the right direction.

Saturday afternoon… The upper-level ridge, masked in lots of upper-level moisture, is slowly moving through our area today. We have “stacked” lenticular clouds to our northeast and low level cumulus clouds moving in from the west.

Winds… Peaks will be around 10mph this afternoon.

Saturday night to Monday afternoon… The next system will move through.  It will approach us from the west, not an ideal direction. It will be disorganized, lack upper level support, and be a bit warmer. Warmer air is a stabilizer.

Timing… The first scattered showers will start over the mountains late Saturday afternoon and then over the valley Saturday night. Hit and miss snowshowers will persist into Monday afternoon.

Snow levels… Starting Saturday afternoon snow levels will be around 7,200, drop to 6,200ft by sunrise Sunday, rise to 7,400ft Sunday afternoon, drop to 6,700ft Sunday night, and then rise to 7,200ft Monday afternoon.

StormTotalSnowWeb 1
NWS Snow Chart Valid till Monday at 11PM indicates only an inch for in town Pagosa and isolated mountain areas getting as much as 8-12″ (more than what I am thinking).

Snow amounts…

Valley below 7,400ft: 1-2”

Valley above 7,400ft: 2-3”

Mountains: 4-8”

Winds… Peaks will be around 10mph each afternoon.

Temps… Lows Saturday night will be in the low to mid 20s. Highs Sunday will be in the mid-30s to low 40s and lows Sunday night will be in the mid-20s to low 20s. Highs Monday will be in the mid-30s to upper 30s.

Monday evening to Wednesday evening… Upper-level flow will vary between southwest and northwest and continue to push moisture and clouds through the region the result will be mostly cloudy skies. Weak troughs will kick up occasional scattered snowshowers, but I don’t expect much snow to accumulate.

gfs deterministic colorado snow 48hr 6140800 2
GFS 2 day Snowfall chart that includes Tuesday and Wednesday. Valley areas will only see a few 1/10ths over two days time and the mountains might see an inch.

Snow amounts…

Valley: 0-1”. Most areas will only see a trace… an occasional snowflake flitting by.

Mountains: 2-4”

Winds… Afternoon peaks will be around 10mph.

Temps… Lows Monday night will be in the low-teens to upper-teens.  Highs Tuesday and Wednesday will be in the high 30s to mid-40s. Lows Tuesday night will be in the low-teens to upper-teens.

Mark takes over tomorrow…

I’ll be out with the crew from San Juan Sled Dogs tomorrow morning. Good mountain fun! I’ll share pictures with you!

– Arleen

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I grew up in Montana where my love of the mountains is rooted. I was in the Air Force, forecasting aviation weather, for 24 years. I had eight assignments and my favorites were Colorado, Alaska, Korea, and Germany. I deployed a number of times including to Iraq and Afghanistan. After RV traveling for nine years, we found paradise in Pagosa. Here we enjoy playing outside in the spectacular San Juan mountains!
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