Colorado Monsoon 2019… Missing In Action?

After an abnormally cool and wet period the front range (and most of Colorado) has settled into a drier and warmer period for the month of July. As we move into July we typically see the monsoon establish across the southwestern United States and with it a uptick in rain and thunderstorms across Colorado.

The weather pattern has been strange this summer though, earlier rain and cool temperatures were not related to the monsoon, more with strong cold fronts and moisture from the Pacific Northwest. As we’ve seen the jetstream migrate North (as it often does this time of year) we’ve begun to dry out.

July 2019 Was Very Dry

Largely July was a very dry month for Colorado (some very select areas were exceptions as you can see with the graphic below) The lack of a monsoon pattern establishing meant widespread normal and above normal precipitation was lacking for a large majority of the state.

PRISM Climate Data (precipitation anomaly) for July 2018

A lot of the state experienced precipitation in the 50-70% of average category. This is not what we’d expect with a healthy monsoon setup.

Quick Note: But I’ve Been Hearing on the News…

I’m not exactly sure why certain TV meteorologists have been attributing a lot of ours storms in July and early August to the “monsoon.” The pattern simply hasn’t been there… you can argue it but the data above doesn’t lie.

August 2019 – Glimpses of the Monsoon?

Fret not though, we are seeing glimpses of a monsoon pattern shift in the near future… but there’s a catch…

While models are pointing to a monsoon type setup over the next week or two it doesn’t look all that healthy. The image above is the EURO model ensembles and shows while we see moisture from the gulf rotation around a high pressure over roughly Texas, the moisture advection is not terribly strong. In fact, there are still several key ingredients of a healthy monsoon pattern that just simply aren’t there.

Here’s a more ideal setup

So compare the two images above and it becomes clear that what we will see over the next 7-10 days looks weak at best. Not to say this is set in gospel (models are not 100% accurate remember) but it’s worth noting that the overall trend shows at least a slight uptick in moisture but not a strong monsoon setup.

What Does This Mean for the Palmer Divide?

The influx of moisture means we should see a bit more thunderstorm activity return to our area again over the next few days.  Not only that, but on those days the temperatures should cool a bit so we get a bit of relief from the heat but it should stay pretty warm overall.

Here’s the EURO Meteogram for temperatures at Centennial Airport for the next few days.

As always, add or subtract a few degrees from these depending on your elevation. The point here is you can see the cooler days above… those will be the best shots for thunderstorms with decent moisture.

With the influx of moisture and lift we will have to keep an eye on the Palmer Divide… our elevation and terrain makes us a bit of a bullseye for thunderstorm development under these conditions.

We’ll keep an eye on things over the next few days to couple of weeks to see if we can spot any significant changes in the weather pattern but for now it looks like more of the same!

 

Independence Day 2019 Weather Outlook

As is typical this time of year, we will start off the day very nice, sunny and cool. We will quickly see temperatures warm up in the afternoon and with it will come our daily chance for showers and thunderstorms. Here’s a quick update of what to expect today:

Severe Weather Possible

SPC Severe Outlook as of this morning 7/4/2019

Severe thunderstorms will be possible across Northern, Northeastern and Eastern Colorado today. A marginal risk extends across the Palmer Divide meaning a stray severe storm is possible but most storms seen in the area will remain below severe limits. As you move Eastward into Eastern and Northeastern Colorado the risk is upgraded to slight, again meaning severe weather will be scattered in nature, but is a slightly higher chance than the green shaded areas.

Primary threats to watch out for with these storms:

  • Large hail
  • Damaging wind
  • Heavy Rain

–A slight risk of tornadoes exists, but mainly in areas well Northeast of Denver.

Temperatures – It’s Going to be a Scorcher!

HRRR predicted high temperatures for today

High temperatures for many areas along the Palmer Divide will top out in the mid to upper 80’s today. As you move lower in elevation things will heat up a bit more with lower elevation areas along the Palmer Divide (Lone Tree, Parker, Calhan, Simla) all seeing temps in the upper 80’s to low 90’s. Not the hottest temperatures we’ve seen this year, but you will definitely notice how toasty it is if you spend time outside this afternoon.

Make sure to drink plenty of water and sunscreen is a must today!

Afternoon Thunderstorms – Have a Plan to Move Inside

Models have pinpointed the 3PM-8PM timeframe as the most likely time we see thunderstorms along the Palmer Divide so keep that in mind. There is disagreement amongst the models as to how strong those storms get, as we know models can’t exactly pinpoint when or where a storm hits; they can only give us general areas to look out for.

Nam3K simulated reflectivity

The Nam3k shows weaker storms over Douglas and Elbert counties with a later timeframe, closer to 7-8PM.

HRRR simulated reflectivity at around 5PM

The HRRR shows storms firing as early as 3-4PM across the foothills and moving across the Palmer Divide by 4-6PM. 

HRRR simulated reflectivity at around 6PM

By 6PM this particular model has storms lingering along the I-25 corridor but notice the big storm in Elbert County. This setup will bear keeping an eye on because this model is showing a pretty significant storm out that way into the evening hours.

HRRR simulated reflectivity at around 9PM

By a bit later in the evening we should see a lot of the storms shift off to the Northeast. If these models verify they all have a pretty decent evening for the area after 9PM.

 

We will keep an eye on this throughout the day and be sure to pass along any updates. We will also forward along the 11AM SPC update if it looks like the severe weather area is shifting westward and closer to home.

Hope everyone has a happy and safe independence day, remember to keep an eye out for lightning this afternoon!

 

Major Weather Pattern Shift Arrives This Week – 06/24/2019

No doubt, June and Spring in general was colder and wetter than average for a lot of places in and around Colorado. In fact, several mountain locations saw significant snowfall this past week while the front range was buried in moisture, low cloudiness and severe weather.

The good news (for summer weather and warm temperature lovers) is we are spying a rather large weather pattern shift starting this week. For the past several months low pressure systems have been riding the jet stream across the mountain west into Colorado, this has made for very unsettled weather so far.

The change is becoming very apparent in a lot of long and medium range models:

GFS 500mb upper air pattern for Wednesday June 26, 2019 around Noon

As you can see from the GFS snapshot above, high pressure is beginning to establish to the Southeast of Colorado. This is something we tend to see in typical summertime patterns in Colorado. As such, we’d expect our weather to shift away from cold and unsettled, to hot and summer-like.

GFS 500mb upper air on Friday June 28, 2019

As we move into the weekend we see the ridge intensify and shift the jet stream and thus the storm track away from Colorado. Notice the trough moving into the Northwest? That feature will struggle to make it into Colorado so while we may see a slight chance of storms from it over the weekend (very small, think 10% or less chance)

Here’s  peak at the GFS forecast temperatures on Friday…

Notice that hot air making its way up into the middle part of the country… right about where the high pressure ridge establishes. Now keep in mind, this model shows at noon on Friday so these aren’t the “true” high temperatures… probably need to add a few degrees to the ones in Colorado at least.

For those of us closer to home along the Palmer Divide, the Euro Ensembles show a pretty toasty week and weekend across our area as well. The official station for our area is Centennial Airport, so if you are higher elevation than there (most of us are) maybe subtract a degree or two.

True Long Term Shift or A slight Reprieve Before Back to Cold and Unsettled?

Stay tuned for another post, now that summer is finally here I’ll be crunching the data and looking at some models to see if this is just a short term pattern swing or if summer is truly here to stay.

For now, enjoy the warm temperatures and generally dry conditions for the next 5-7 days!

 

Friday Kicks Off Active Weather Weekend – Quick Update – 06/20/2019

A powerful storm system and associated cold front is slated to begin affecting Colorado starting as early as Friday. If you’ve been following our Facebook page, it should be no surprise to you that Friday will be active as we’ve been discussing it for a couple of days now…

Severe Weather Threat

SPC Day 2 (Friday) Severe Weather Outlook

The graphic above illustrates the Severe Weather Threat is defined tonight by the SPC for Friday June 21, 2019. Keep in mind, the Day 1 outlook will update a few times in the morning tomorrow so stay tuned as we anticipate a shift in the coverage for some of these severe areas.

Here’s the need to know details if you have plans tomorrow:

Threats

  • Large hail in excess of 1 inch in diameter
  • Heavy rain and localized flooding will be possible
  • Strong winds ahead of and under collapsing storms could cause damage
  • Large amounts of cloud to ground lightning… lightning can strike 15-20 miles away from the storm so keep that in mind.

 

Timing

Per current modeling storms will begin building in the late morning hours. Expect thunderstorms to begin affecting areas in and around the Palmer Divide after 12PM with strong to severe storms forming a bit later in the afternoon.

Preparedness Actions

  • Large hail could cause damage to vehicles, buildings and plants. Take necessary precautions.
  • Flooding could cause localized travel issues
  • Lightning can be extremely dangerous, move inside as soon as you hear thunder

 

Continue to monitor weather alerts from local and reliable weather resources.

HRRR model has consistently shown the Palmer Divide as a bullseye area tomorrow. This model can’t predict exact locations of storms or their effects; so when you see this don’t assume the storms will show up exactly where they do on the model.

A Quick Note About Severe Weather Outlooks and Forecasts

There seems to be a lot of confusion about the SPC outlook graphics like the one posted above.

I’ll use tomorrow’s threat as an example and try to explain it a bit better. A slight risk for hail and wind with a probability of 15% means you could pick any point within that risk area and there is a 15% probability that anywhere in that radius could see large hail and damaging wind.

So if you live in Castle Rock, there is a 15% chance your area or any area within 25 miles of that point could see a severe storm with these effects. As you can see that’s not a particularly strong probability… but it’s not 0% either.

So the likelihood (85% chance) is that most of us won’t see severe weather tomorrow. So why do we make a big deal about it? Preparedness! Unfortunately we cannot predict exactly when or where these severe thunderstorms will form and hit… but we know the environment will be favorable for a few storms to grow severe tomorrow anywhere in the yellow shaded area. That’s why we preach being prepared. If you find yourself in the path of the storm, it could cause damage and injury if you are not prepared.

I’ll probably be making a video to discuss this in the near future so stay tuned for that.

Another Quick Note: Snow in Summertime!

Many areas above 9,500 to 10,000 feet in elevation will see decent snow accumulation over the next 48 hours. Keep this in mind if you’re planning on camping or driving up in that area. It will be cold and wet and travel over some mountain passes may be slightly impacted.

I’ll have another post up late Friday talking about the weekend, the active pattern will continue followed by a big shift next week. Phew… lots to cover, stay tuned!

 

Severe Weather Possible Today – 5/26/2019

Palmer Divide Specific Severe Weather Discussion

For the Palmer Divide region we don’t expect widespread severe weather this afternoon but any thunderstorms that develop will have the potential to become strong or severe. A slight risk exists for the Palmer Divide East of Interstate 25 with the primary threat being large damaging hail and strong winds. There is also a small potential for tornadoes with some of these severe storms but the main risk for those is further Southeast of our area.

Remember, a slight risk means severe storms will be widely scattered, so most folks won’t see an impact but if you find yourself under a storm… keep an eye as it could quickly grow strong or severe.

Timing

  • Storms are expected to fire around 12-2PM
  • Severe weather may be possible after 1PM

Preparedness Actions

  • As hail and wind are the primary threats so take actions to protect property
    • Move things that you don’t want hail damaged into a building or under a structure
    • Be sure to secure any lightweight objects that could blow around in high winds
  • Keep a close eye on local weather sources for weather watches and warnings and have access to that information easily in the afternoon

Please Note: NWS has requested that Storm Spotter Activation may be required after 1PM today.

If you are a NOAA/NWS Certified SkyWarn Weather Spotter in Douglas or Elbert County, please be prepared to report severe weather with intensity, description and location this afternoon.

Southeastern Colorado Specific Severe Weather Discussion

The main threat for severe weather exists over extreme Southeastern Colorado today. In these locations a significant hail and wind threat exists along with a substantial threat for tornadoes. If you live in or around these areas please take proper precautions and make preparations this morning. Don’t wait until storms fire this afternoon, things will begin to move very quickly!

Of most concerns are the areas outlined in the hatch above. This product is for Significant Tornado risk areas. If you live in areas from roughly east of Eads, south into Lamar and just East of Springfield you need to be especially aware this afternoon.

Summary – My Thoughts

We will have to keep a close eye on this setup. Models don’t show a whole lot going on along the Palmer Divide and I-25 corridor today, but given the atmosphere is relatively primed today for severe weather in the area we still need to take that into consideration.

So today’s message is that most of us won’t see severe weather (it won’t be particularly widespread along the Palmer Divide) but there is a decent change some of us will. Primary things to watch out for will be hail and wind but give our terrain around here, you know that tornadoes will be a slight possibility with any severe storms.

I’ll be away from the computer this afternoon but will try to pass along any updates as needed.

Stay safe out there and keep your eyes to the sky!

 

 

Memorial Day Weekend Weather Outlook – 2019

The long 3 day weekend is upon us and I have some great news… it’s going to be a nice one in the weather department. We will see a return of spring-like weather with temperatures generally in the 60’s and 70’s during the day across the Palmer Divide (depending on your elevation.)

Saturday and Sunday will feature blue sky days with little to no chance for storms and rain, a nice change and a great warm up and dry out from what we’ve had!

By Monday things begin to change a little bit, but not until later in the day. The first part of memorial day will start out mostly sunny with clouds beginning to build in the afternoon. Models show a cold front moving in later in the day, but not a ton of agreement on exactly when.

Suffice to say, expect scattered storms on Monday afternoon with windy conditions likely picking up by the evening hours. The good news is as of right now the storm chance looks relatively small so most areas won’t see an issue, but definitely keep an eye out if you have outdoor plans in the afternoon and evening!

Widely scattered storms will be possible Monday afternoon.

I hope everyone has a happy and safe holiday weekend!

Let us never forget the men and women who died while serving to protect our freedoms and this great country. Happy Memorial Day.

Powerful Spring Storm May Throw Curve-balls! – Here’s the Latest – 5/20/2019

This storm is going to surprise a lot of folks… a powerful spring storm system is moving through Colorado and the central and southern plains. Colorado will see ample amounts of moisture and for some areas that may mean decent snow accumulation, while the SE corner will see heavy rain and potentially severe storms.

 

^^ My video update at 2PM on May 20, 2019 ^^

Weather Watches/Warnings/Advisories

Here’s the latest winter weather highlights as of 3PM on May 20, 2019

Winter Weather Advisory – Palmer Divide Region

URGENT - WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE
National Weather Service Denver CO
1221 PM MDT Mon May 20 2019

...STRONG LATE SEASON SPRING STORM TO AFFECT COLORADO...

.A strong storm system will move into Colorado today and continue
to affect the area through Tuesday night. This system will bring
heavy, wet snow to elevations above 6000 feet, impacting travel
with snow covered and slushy roads.

COZ041-210400-
/O.EXB.KBOU.WW.Y.0025.190521T0000Z-190521T1800Z/
Castle Rock-
Including the cities of Castle Rock, Elbert, Fondis, Kiowa,
and Larkspur
1221 PM MDT Mon May 20 2019

...WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM 6 PM THIS EVENING TO
NOON MDT TUESDAY...

* WHAT...Wet snow expected. Total snow accumulations of 5 to 10
  inches expected, with the heaviest amounts above 7000 feet.

* WHERE...Castle Rock.

* WHEN...From 6 PM this evening to noon MDT Tuesday.

* ADDITIONAL DETAILS...Travel could be very difficult. The
  hazardous conditions could impact the morning or evening
  commute.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

A Winter Weather Advisory for snow means periods of snow will
cause primarily travel difficulties. Expect snow covered roads
and limited visibilities, and use caution while driving.

Winter Storm Warning

COZ031-033-034-210400-
/O.CON.KBOU.WS.W.0012.000000T0000Z-190522T0600Z/
Rabbit Ears Pass-
Rocky Mountain National Park and the Medicine Bow Range-
The Mountains of Summit County, the Mosquito Range, and the
Indian Peaks-
Including the cities of East Slopes Park and Northern Gore
Ranges, Gore Pass, Rabbit Ears Pass, Cameron Pass,
Laramie and Medicine Bow Mountains, Rabbit Ears Range,
Rocky Mountain National Park, Willow Creek Pass, Berthoud Pass,
Breckenridge, East Slopes Mosquito Range,
East Slopes Southern Gore Range, Eisenhower Tunnel, Indian Peaks,
Kenosha Mountains, Mount Evans, Williams Fork Mountains,
and Winter Park
1221 PM MDT Mon May 20 2019

...WINTER STORM WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL MIDNIGHT MDT
TUESDAY NIGHT...

* WHAT...Heavy snow expected. Total snow accumulations of 8 to
  18 inches expected. Winds gusting as high as 35 mph.

* WHERE...Rabbit Ears Pass, Rocky Mountain National Park and the
  Medicine Bow Range and The Mountains of Summit County, the
  Mosquito Range, and the Indian Peaks.

* WHEN...From noon Monday to midnight MDT Tuesday night.

* ADDITIONAL DETAILS...Travel will be hazardous with snow
  covered roads. Secondary roads may see more difficult travel
  conditions due to more significant accumulation of heavy, wet
  snow.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

A Winter Storm Warning for snow means severe winter weather
conditions will make travel very hazardous or impossible. If you
must travel, keep an extra flashlight, food and water in your
vehicle in case of an emergency.

Updated Forecast

If you saw my video this afternoon (it’s posted above) you know that I’m not 100% sold on what the models are saying. Since this storm is a bit of a different animal I’ve kept snowfall totals somewhere in between ultra conservative and what the models are saying. As I mentioned; this is a fluid forecast and it’s very likely these numbers will change in the next few hours. Stay tuned for updates!

Expected Snowfall (through Thursday 6PM)

*These are our forecast numbers and may not always match the NWS official forecast numbers*
  • Castle Rock and surrounding areas
    • 3-6 inches
  • Parker, Lone Tree, Highlands Ranch areas
    • 2-5 inches
  • Elbert, Elizabeth, Kiowa
    • 4-8 inches
  • Larkspur, Monument,Black Forest, Palmer Lake,
    • 3-6 or 4-8 inches — Depends largely on elevation!
  • Woodland Park, W. Colorado Springs Foothills
    • 5-10 inches (especially higher elevation foothills areas West of Colorado Springs)

Timing

  • Monday PM: snow showers had begun in most areas along the Palmer Divide. We expect accumulation during the day to be light
  • Monday Night: Heavier snow showers will establish overnight and into early Tuesday morning
  • Tuesday AM: Snow showers will continue through the rush hour, most accumulation will be confined to areas above 6,500-7,000 feet
  • Tuesday PM: will be watching for continued wet and unsettled weather throughout the day. Most areas will see rain rather than snow Tuesday afternoon.

Potential Impacts

  • We expect minor to moderate travel impacts along the Palmer Divide; roads may become slick and slushy, especially in areas above 6,500 feet
  • Freezing temperatures will be possible; sensitive vegetation should be covered  Monday and possibly Tuesday night. We will keep an eye on this!

 

As I said in my video and discussion above, the models are jumping all over snow totals but I’m not sold just yet. Models often struggle with snow accumulation this time of year due to temperatures and sun angle (melting) which is why I generally lean conservative on snowfall this time of year.

That being said, we can’t ignore that this storm is highly unusually in its setup and mechanics for this time of year. With that, the forecast is still very much fluid and will change a few more times over the next 24 hours.  Stay tuned and I’ll be sure to pass along updates!

 

The Week Ahead – Remaining Cool and Unsettled – 5/19/2019

Another strong spring storm is moving into the area starting late in the day Sunday and will bring cool, wet and unsettled conditions to the front range over the next several days. Here’s the latest details and look at what the rest of the week holds!

Weather Watches/Warnings/Advisories

 

The mountains will be under again in the latest storm; many areas will see between 8-16 inches of snow with some higher peaks seeing upwards of 20 inches. Moderately strong winds are possible in the high country and that with the combination of falling snow could make travel dangerous.

Here’s some detailed information, if you have travel plans in the high country later Monday through Tuesday  you’ll want to pay special attention to the hazards and timing:

...WINTER STORM WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM MONDAY AFTERNOON
THROUGH TUESDAY AFTERNOON...

* WHAT...Heavy snow possible. Total snow accumulations of 8 to
  16 inches possible with up to 20 inches in some mountain
  areas. Winds could gust as high as 35 mph.

* WHERE...Rabbit Ears Pass, Rocky Mountain National Park and the
  Medicine Bow Range, The Mountains of Summit County, the
  Mosquito Range, and the Indian Peaks and The Northern Front
  Range Foothills.

* WHEN...From Monday afternoon through Tuesday afternoon.

* ADDITIONAL DETAILS...Travel will be hazardous with snow covered
  and slushy roads. Secondary roads may see more difficult travel
  conditions due to more significant accumulations of heavy, wet
  snow.

Closer to Home… Our Palmer Divide Forecast

Snow is back in the forecast… this should come as no surprise folks! Colorado is no stranger to snow all the way through late May… and if you’ve been paying attention we’ve been entrenched in a particularly cool and unsettled pattern for quite awhile now.

Expected Snowfall (through Thursday 6PM)

*These are our forecast numbers and may not always match the NWS official forecast numbers*
  • Castle Rock and surrounding areas
    • 0-2 inches
  • Parker, Lone Tree, Highlands Ranch areas
    • 0-2 inches
  • Elbert, Elizabeth, Kiowa
    • 0-3 inches
  • Larkspur, Monument,Black Forest, Palmer Lake,
    • 0-3 inches — Black Forest totals may be lesser in lower elevations
  • Woodland Park, W. Colorado Springs Foothills
    • 0-3 inches (especially higher elevation foothills areas West of Colorado Springs)

While areas along the Palmer Divide may see snow, not much is expected to accumulate on more than grassy or dirt surfaces. Ground temperatures are warm and temperatures will be marginal at best for snowfall sticking. Most areas will see very little to no accumulation.

If models verify on this; expect bands of heavy wet snow across the Palmer Divide. Keep in mind though, due to warm temperatures and ground;  snow accumulations won’t be impressive…

Timing

  • Sunday PM- showers and thunderstorms will be possible. Precipitation will mainly be rain
  • Monday late morning/early afternoon – spotty showers in the earlier morning hours will give way to stronger showers and thunderstorms by late morning to early afternoon. Precipitation will mainly be rain at this point.
  • Monday afternoon/evening – heavier showers and thunderstorms likely, rain may transition to snow along the Palmer Divide sometime between 5-9PM depending on temperatures.
  • Monday overnight – Snow showers will continue overnight, some snow may be heavy at times but only minor accumulation expected
  • Tuesday Morning – Snow and rain showers continue depending on your elevation. Should see precipitation taper off by early Tuesday afternoon
  • Tuesday afternoon/evening – continued unsettled conditions but precipitation should be lighter. Spotty rain and snow showers could be possible into Tuesday afternoon and evening

Potential Impacts

  • We expect minor travel impacts along the Palmer Divide; roads will remain mostly wet with spotty slush
  • Freezing temperatures will be possible; sensitive vegetation should be covered Sunday, Monday and possibly Tuesday night. We will keep an eye on this!

 

Synopsis

Fascinating storm system we have shaping up here. I posted a video below of the Nam3K model we’ve been looking at throughout this post with precipitation type and 500mb contours turned on. You can see the low pressure trough establish and swing through California, Arizona and into Utah.

The trough weakens a bit as it crosses the mountains (as they often do thanks to the terrain) but pay special attention what happens as it regenerates on the plains of Colorado. If this looks familiar it should! We’ve seen this a couple of times this year… remember the blizzard we had in March and the weaker snow storm we had in April?

People love to call this a “bomb cyclone” these days and while I’m not in love with that term (hype, hype, hype!) I’ll use it since it’s familiar to most people.

This rapid intensification will mean a few things weather-wise depending on where you live.

  • Colorado Mountains
    • Heavy snow as the low transitions across the higher terrain. Expect mountain areas to pick up ample amounts of snow with strong winds possible Monday Afternoon – Tuesday Afternoon
  • Colorado Front Range
    • Temperatures will be too warm to see a “blizzard” type event out of this. That being said, there’s a lot of energy and a ton of moisture. Expect moderate to heavy rain and some snow accumulation in the higher terrain. Strong winds will also be possible in some areas.
  • Further East (ahead of the low on the plains)
    • Classic severe weather setup here. Energy and instability ahead of the low will means some areas in the central and southern plains will be primed for significant severe weather.
    • If you have friends or family in Oklahoma, Texas or Kansas… make sure they are following their local weather sources. Significant tornado threats exist with this storm in the plains.

Summary

I’ll have some more posts up here and there over the next few days. The weather pattern looks to remain active for at least the next couple of weeks.

I may have a livestream up regarding some of this late Sunday night so stay tuned for that if you stay up!

 

Snow and Cold Blast on the Way! – 05/08/2019

We look to have ourselves another powerful spring storm on the way to Colorado. As of this morning, many areas along the front range had already seen a healthy dose of rain and that doesn’t look to change through the day today. What will change is the rain will transition to snow by sometime this evening and once it does and the sun goes down, we should see snow begin to accumulate in higher elevation areas. (Thinking the best shot is areas over 5500 feet at this time.

Here’s the latest on this storm!

Weather Watches/Warnings/Advisories

Updated watches, warnings and advisories in Colorado as of 1PM on May 8, 2019

Winter Weather Advisory is in effect for the front range foothills and Western sections of Douglas County only. Locations include: 

Cameron Pass,
Laramie and Medicine Bow Mountains, Rabbit Ears Range,
Rocky Mountain National Park, Willow Creek Pass, Estes Park,
Glendevey, Nederland, Red Feather Lakes, Bailey, Central City,
Evergreen, Georgetown, Idaho Springs, and Westcreek

More details with this advisory:

...WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 6 PM MDT
THURSDAY...

* WHAT...Snow expected. Total snow accumulations of 6 to 12
  inches expected.

* WHERE...Southern Front Range Foothills.

* WHEN...From noon Wednesday to 6 PM MDT Thursday.

* ADDITIONAL DETAILS...Travel could be hazardous with slushy and
  snow covered roads at times.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

A Winter Weather Advisory for snow means periods of snow will
cause primarily travel difficulties. Expect snow covered roads
and limited visibilities, and use caution while driving.

A Winter Storm Warning is in effect for mountain areas and will feature between 8-16 inches of snow. Combined with high winds especially over the passes, we expect mountain travel to become very difficult if not hazardous by later Wednesday.

Here’s the details on that warning:

...WINTER STORM WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 6 PM MDT
THURSDAY...

* WHAT...Heavy snow expected. Total snow accumulations of 8 to
  16 inches expected.

* WHERE...The Mountains of Summit County, the Mosquito Range,
  and the Indian Peaks.

* WHEN...From noon today to 6 PM MDT Thursday.

* ADDITIONAL DETAILS...Travel could be very difficult. The
  hazardous conditions could impact the morning or evening
  commute.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

A Winter Storm Warning for snow means severe winter weather
conditions will make travel very hazardous or impossible. If you
must travel, keep an extra flashlight, food and water in your
vehicle in case of an emergency.

Closer to Home… Our Palmer Divide Forecast

Expected Snowfall (through Thursday 8AM)

*These are our forecast numbers and may not always match the NWS official forecast numbers*
  • Castle Rock and surrounding areas
    • 2-5 inches
  • Parker, Lone Tree, Highlands Ranch areas
    • 2-5 inches
  • Elbert, Elizabeth, Kiowa
    • 3-6 inches (will be watching higher elevations!)
  • Larkspur, Monument,Black Forest, Palmer Lake,
    • 3-6 inches — Black Forest totals may be lesser in lower elevations
  • Woodland Park, W. Colorado Springs Foothills
    • 5-10 inches (especially higher elevation foothills areas West of Colorado Springs)

WPC snowfall at 25th percentile. I like to use this number more in the spring as it can help account for melting and compacting. Still relatively respectable snowfall amounts it’s indicating!

Timing

  • Precipitation has already started as rain this morning across the Palmer Divide
  • Models show rain turning to snow sometime between 5-8PM. Expecting little accumulation during daylight hours but as the sun goes down accumulation becomes more likely.
  • Highest chance for accumulating snowfall for the Palmer Divide looks to be the late evening hours Wednesday through early Thursday morning
  • There’s a lot of moisture with this storm, snow may be moderate to heavy at times in very specific spots

Potential Impacts

  • We don’t expect major travel impacts with this storm at this time
  • Roads under sustained heavier snow may become slushy, this is most likely at higher elevations. Some minor to moderate travel impacts may be experienced.

Summary

This storm looks a bit more promising than our last “snow” storm. A combination of a  low pressure system spinning moisture into Colorado from the South and a strong low pressure system funneling cold air in from the North means this is a better setup for snow overall.

But just keep in mind, with this storm as with many spring setups; the exact positioning of where these features set up as well as when they make it in to the state (timing) makes all the difference.

We will keep an eye on things and pass along any updates!

Quick note: more snow is possible Thursday night into Friday morning. We’ll have updates on that probably later Wednesday night or Thursday morning… let’s take this one storm at a time!

Spring Weather Roller Coaster Ramping Up! – 05/06/2019

Monday – Severe Weather Threat

The marginal risk for severe weather is mainly East of the I-25 corridor with main threat being hail and wind. Can’t rule out a widely scattered brief tornado though!

A marginal risk for severe weather exists for a corridor extending from East of Denver and the Douglas County Line out into Elbert County, Eastern El Paso County and towards Eastern Colorado. Thunderstorms are expected to form after 2PM today and anything forming in or around these areas could be strong or become severe.

Primary Threats

  • Large hail
  • Strong winds
  • A slight tornado risk exists (see graphic below)

 

Just because you’re not in the exact threat area is not reason to let your guard down. Anywhere along the Palmer Divide could see a spin up or two where storms form on Monday. Keep your eyes up!

The tornado risk today is small (about 2% probability) and mainly covers the area in Southeastern Elbert County and Eastern El Paso count extending towards Southeastern Colorado. Shear, instability and lift enhanced by terrain means tornado formation will be possible in this area. We are not expecting widespread tornadoes along the Palmer Divide or in Colorado today though.

Tuesday – Thursday – Cold with Rain and Snow Chances

A complex and rather slow moving storm system will begin to affect the region on Tuesday and looks to last through Thursday. As with a most of our storm systems this time of year; the whole gambit is possible. Everything from severe weather to moderate rain to accumulating snow is a potential outcome from this storm.

This storm system features a nice double whammy of cold air moving in from the North and moisture moving in from the South. As many of you know, where exactly these features set up will mean all the difference between rain vs. snow and how much moisture we see in general. The good news is, models have consistently favored the Palmer Divide region with a healthy dose of terrain induced upslope meaning we would see a healthy dose of moisture.

That being said, the big question still remains around the snow. Will we see any and how much (if any) will accumulate. Here’s a couple of model thougts:

WPC outlook like the last storm shows pretty low accumulation amounts overall. Generally in the 1-3 inch range for most areas along the Palmer Divide with slightly heavier amounts to the West in the higher elevations of the foothills.

The EURO is a bit more bullish on snow, considering it’s accuracy when it has slightly higher amounts it’s definitely something to take note of. We will be watching this model closely over the next 24-48 hours to see if there are any up or downtrends on snow accumulation.

The biggest story with this storm may not be the snow, but the temperatures!

Wednesday night through Thursday morning 6 HR Low temps

Thursday night through Friday morning 6 HR low temperatures

Keep in mind, the images above come from the Euro; it’s a low resolution model so doesn’t take into consideration small local microclimates and terrain. It is possible some areas could end up colder than shown above.

Summary

All in all, a very active weather week ahead… but as we all like to say- we need the moisture. Doing some of the data in April; it actually ended up drier than average along most areas of the Palmer Divide. We will need to continue getting periodic wet storms to keep things from getting too crispy! The good news is there is a pretty pronounced wet pattern for the next several weeks and possibly even extending well into summer.

We’ll keep an eye on the storms this afternoon and the bigger colder one later this week and be sure to pass along any updates!