UPDATE! to “Atmospheric River” is headed our way…

Pagosa Peak shrouded in a colorful sunset  – Pic taken 3 Feb 2024

Pagosa Peak shrouded in a colorful sunset  – Pic taken 3 Feb 2024

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Monday – 5 Feb 2024 – 4:20pm

A winter storm warning has been issued for the mountains. There is currently nothing out for the San Juan River Basin/Pagosa Springs but I expect either an advisory or a warning to be issued before the storm starts.

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– Shawn


Monday – 5 Feb 2024 – 10:30am

The past…

At Stevens Field the high temperature yesterday afternoon was 35 and the low this morning was 14. The cold spots dipped into mid-single digits.

The peak wind at Stevens Field yesterday afternoon was 5mph.

Average HighRecord High / YearAverage LowRecord Low / Year
4060 / 19634-32 / 1915

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

Wolf Creek ended up with 18” from the last storm.

Forecast discussion…

Water vapor satellite this morning – The “atmospheric river” is headed our way.  The trough will move through our area Wednesday evening, but moist flow will continue. Another trough will move through the region from the northwest (not favorable for us) on Saturday.
Water vapor satellite this morning – The “atmospheric river” is headed our way.  The trough will move through our area Wednesday evening, but moist flow will continue. Another trough will move through the region from the northwest (not favorable for us) on Saturday.
Radar this morning – Moderate to heavy precip is streaming into southern CA and up the I-15 corridor. The pattern will shift eastward and be over us tomorrow night.
Radar this morning – Moderate to heavy precip is streaming into southern CA and up the I-15 corridor. The pattern will shift eastward and be over us tomorrow night.

Forecast Highlights…

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

*** Occasional moderate to heavy snow, gusty winds, blowing snow, and poor visibility is likely late Tuesday night to Wednesday afternoon. ***

*** Heavy wet snow and gusty winds could lead to spotty power outages. ***

*** A WINTER STROM WATCH has been issued by the Pueblo NWS for up to 3ft of snow and 50mph winds from late Tuesday morning to Thursday afternoon. *** This does not include the Pagosa Springs area.

*** The third, and possible final, storm is Friday and Saturday. ***

This winter storm is sponsored by The Springs Resort!

Rest of Monday through Tuesday morning… Transient ridging will keep us dry. Clouds will increase Monday afternoon as the ridge moves to our east. A few spotty snowshowers are possible over the mountains late Tuesday morning, but snow accumulation will be minimal.

Winds… Peaks will be around 10mph Monday afternoon.

Temps… Highs on Monday will be in the low to high 40s and lows Monday night will be in the low to high 20s.

Tuesday afternoon into Thursday morning – I like how this system is lining up – jetstream support, storm energy, moisture, precipitable water, and flow all look good. With a long southerly fetch, it will start off a little warm like the previous system but will cool more quickly and give us a longer period for snow to accumulate.

Timing… The first scattered showers will start over the mountains late Tuesday morning and over the valley Tuesday afternoon. The heaviest precip will fall Tuesday evening into Wednesday afternoon. Precip will become more showery Wednesday evening through Thursday morning.

Snow levels…  Will start around 8,000ft Tuesday afternoon, drop to 7,000ft by sunrise Wednesday, bounce around 6,500ft until sunset Wednesday, and then stay below 6,500ft the rest of the period.

Snow amounts…

Valley below 7,400ft: 3-7”

Valley above 7,400ft: 7-12”

Mountains: 20-30”

Winds… *** Gusts will be 25-30mph Tuesday night to Wednesday evening. ***

Temps. Highs Tuesday will be in the high 30s to mid-40s and low Tuesday night will be in the high 20s to mid-30s. Highs Wednesday will be in the mid to high 30s and lows will be in the low to high 20s. Highs Thursday will be near 30 to the mid-30s.

Grand Junction NWS snow forecast to Thursday at 5am shows 4-6” near Pagosa, with 8-12” for the higher parts of the valley. 
Grand Junction NWS snow forecast to Thursday at 5am shows 4-6” near Pagosa, and 8-12” for the higher parts of the valley. 

Pueblo NWS snow forecast to Thursday at 5am shows 22-29” for Wolf Creek Pass and up to 36” in our mountains.
Pueblo NWS snow forecast to Thursday at 5am shows 22-29” for Wolf Creek Pass and up to 36” in our mountains.

Thursday afternoon through Friday morning… There will be a brief lull, but we’ll stay mostly cloudy with scattered snowshowers.

Snow amounts…

Valley: 1-3” but it will be spotty

Mountains: 3-6”

Winds… Gusts Thursday afternoon will be around 20mph.

Temps… Highs Thursday afternoon will be in the high 20s to mid-30s and lows Thursday night will be in the high teens to mid-20s.

Friday afternoon and Saturday… The next trough will move through from the northwest which isn’t favorable for us. Additionally, storm energy and moisture are weak, so my expectations are low.  Forecast confidence in the details is still low at this point. I’ll adjust timing and snow amounts as the data gets better.

Snow amounts…

Valley: 2-5”

Mountains: 5-10”

My next post will be tomorrow morning.

– Shawn

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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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