Blowtorch 2016 Continues: Temperature Records Fall Along Front Range

A very strong down slope event along the front range caused strong winds, high temperatures and very low humidity today. These events are not entirely uncommon, especially for this time of year. I even mentioned in my last post that we had a stretch of weather just like this almost exactly a year ago.

Today many temperature records were tied or broken and strong winds blew cars around all day, exacerbated fires that started and even caused some damage in areas.

Temperature Records

Here’s a few notable temperature records around the area today:

  • Aurora Colorado: 66.0  <Tied Record>
  • Broomfield Colorado 66.2 <Broke Record, previously 66.0>
  • Castle Rock: 68.0 <Broke Record, previously 67.0>
  • Denver Colorado: 73.0 <Broke Record, previously 71.0>

With this pattern in place a few more days, I would not be surprised to see more records tied or broken through at least Saturday. Some areas in and around Denver actually approached 80 degrees!

 

Strong Wind Gusts

Not only were the temperatures the weather story of the day, winds were whipping up and down the front range. Check out some of these wind gusts recorded by the National Weather Service today:

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Weather Pattern Remains in Place

The system responsible for creating our windy conditions will begin to move East away from Colorado. The high pressure system will remain over the area for a little longer, meaning warm and dry conditions will continue through the weekend. I’ve explained how this pattern keeps us very warm and dry before and it looks to persist for a little while longer.

The high pressure ridge looks to break down int o Sunday as a storm system and associated cold front makes its way through the area. This means expect much cooler temperatures on Sunday and even a small chance of rain or snow into Monday. We’ll have some details on that storm system out sometime this weekend, but at this time it looks very minor.

02182016_wxtrgraphic

Expect calmer winds on Friday but breezy conditions will remain. Temperatures will be pleasantly warm.

Stay tuned for the weekend outlook on Friday and a preview of our minor storm system early next week!

 

The Heat is On!

The warm, quiet and relatively calm weather along the front range means most think there as not been much to talk about as far as weather the last few days, but nothing could be further from the truth! There are a few things happening over the next several days and into the next few weeks that look interesting.

Record Setting Heat Possible Over Next Few Days

The biggest thing you will notice will be the incredibly warm temperatures over the next few days. These warm temperatures will affect most of Colorado, mountains included.

Nam4K predicted temperatures for Thursday around 2pm

Nam4K predicted temperatures for Thursday around 2pm

The Nam4k model shown above shows temperatures along the front range comfortably in the 70’s and even some 80’s across the Southeastern part of the state. All models are in agreement that the Wednesday through Saturday period to be abnormally warm, with Thursday being the most notable.

February 2015 data from our weather station in Castle Rock

February 2015 data from our weather station in Castle Rock

Believe it or not, these stretches of well above normal temperatures are not entirely unusual in February. I went back and looked at data last year from my weather station in Castle Rock and noticed we had a very similar warm period.

This is a pattern we see quite often in Colorado right around February. As a Colorado Native I can tell you it is often no surprise to recall wearing shorts and a t-shirt to school in February as a child.

The pattern we are seeing now marks a transitional period, where we begin to come out of the extended colder and snowier period of winter and begin to make the (sometimes slow) transition into spring.

The key to watch during this period is if it indeed transitions into a wetter spring period.  Sometimes we never hit that switch and we experience extended abnormally dry and warm weather into spring and summer. This is usually bad news for our snow-pack, water storage and fire season. Luckily, I don’t see that as the case this season, the why is a long story best saved for another day and another post.

 

 

 

 

For Reference: Castle Rock Record Highs

If you want to know if we tie or break a high temperature record over the next few days, here is the data. Thursday looks like the most likely day to break a record, but there are decent chances the next few days:

February 17

  • Record High: 67
  • Forecast High: 65

February 18:

  • Record High: 64
  • Forecast High: 70

February 19:

  • Record High: 66
  • Forecast High: 63

February 20:

  • Record High: 66
  • Forecast High: 62

*Temperature records for Castle Rock are recorded at Centennial Airport , this is the data that was used

Wind/Fire Danger

It may be difficult to imagine any threat of wildfires with all the snow and moisture we have had this year, but the main thing to remember during this time of year is that when vegetation is dormant, it can easily catch fire. This is especially true if you have strong winds and low humidity, which we have experienced now for a couple of weeks.

There are two alert products out by the National Weather Service at this time:

  • FIRE WEATHER WATCH IN EFFECT FROM THURSDAY MORNING THROUGH THURSDAY AFTERNOON FOR STRONG WINDS AND VERY LOW HUMIDITY
  • HIGH WIND WATCH NOW IN EFFECT FROM LATE TONIGHT THROUGH FRIDAY MORNING
Current Weather Alerts.

Current Weather Alerts.

Basically, to sum up these alerts; A Fire Weather Watch means critical fire conditions will be possible. The strong winds and low humidity on Thursday will allow any fires that start to spread rapidly. Probably not a good idea to do any outdoor burning.

The High Wind watch means conditions may develop that allow for strong and damaging winds. Driving, especially for high profile vehicles could become difficult.

We will keep an eye on this and let you know if any of these are upgraded to warnings.

Wednesday – Thursday Weather

Wednesday expect warm temperatures and calmer winds. It may still be a bit breezy in some areas but will be a nice day overall.

High: 65

Low: 38 **becoming windy overnight

Thursday expect a possible record warm day. Strong winds and very low humidity will make for a nice day temperature-wise but probably a bad hair day.

High: 70

Low: 36

That’s it for now folks, I will have another post up Thursday with a more in-depth look at this weather pattern and went we might see a change. Stay tuned!

 

Warm and Windy Week Ahead for Colorado Front Range

Strong downslope winds will cause warm and very windy conditions throughout the week along the front range. The National Weather Service in Denver put together a neat graphic on how this process works to keep us very warm and dry:

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Credit: National Weather Service Denver/Boulder

This setup is commonly called “Chinook Wind” as strong winds come up and over the mountains and as they roll down the foothills of Colorado the air compresses and warms. This causes very windy conditions, especially along the foothills and breezy conditions in most other areas along the foothills. “Chinook”, by the way is the inuit word for “snow eater” as these warm winds commonly melt our snow very quickly.

A Note About our Sunrises and Sunsets

IMG_3727

If you’ve been along the front range of Colorado this past week, you’ve probably noticed the amazing sunsets and sunrises we’ve had nearly every day for the week. The mountain wave clouds that have parked over us for the past week are due to the current weather pattern. Again, the National Weather Service has some great graphics that explain a couple of the setups we have seen this week.

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Credit: National Weather Service Denver/Boulder

 

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As long as these patterns continue, we will continue to see a wave or wave clouds parked over the front range. This means continue to look for those great sunrises and sunsets, but also continue to look for very warm days and very windy conditions.

How Long Will it Last?

The above model is a look at the upper level wind pattern across the United States from today till about March 6. You’ll notice the large ridge to our West and the jet stream overhead, this will ensure our warm and windy weather for a long period of time. The models for lower and mid level winds show a very similar setup for this period so I feel pretty confident in saying that our chances for any types of large snowstorms are pretty low the rest of February. Even when the ridge breaks down next week, our winds remain westerly which would mean better chances of snow in the mountains but not much for anything East of the divide.

Not to say we won’t get any storms at all, but the chances are quite low. The model shows a couple of disturbances that may provide a bit of spotty rain or snow activity here and there.

One note; the last few days of the model we begin to see some troughs establish in the jet stream signaling a possible weather pattern change. Being at the far end of the model view, it is way too early to take this to the bank but if it materializes, it could be the pattern change we would look for to see  possible blizzard type storms in March. This will need some close watching as if it holds and strengthens into March we could be looking at much more energy entering the state.

The rest of February looks very warm and dry, expect above average temperatures and higher winds. Areas East of the divide will most likely not see snow until sometime in March.

 

Colorado and Castle Rock February Weather Outlook

Colorado’s front range started the month of February with a large snowstorm that deposited a foot of snow or more for many areas. I’ve heard a lot of discussion about when we can expect our next snowstorm as many are eager to plan their next snow day. February tends to be one of our drier winter months, we often see warm days and little snow during February so it was somewhat unusual to see such high snow amounts in one storm for the month. This is why it’s important to keep in mind throughout this dicussion that just one storm in the entire month can bump February into an over average precipitation situation. The average snowfall for February in the Castle Rock area for example, is 7.2 inches.

I’ve been analyzing outlooks, models and statistics and now have a decent picture of what we can expect in Colorado for the rest of this month.

Wetter Than Average but Any More Snowstorms?

The Climate Prediction Center runs a whole host of products that calculate the probability of temperature and precipitation anomalies. They are a great tool to get a big picture of the weather for the U.S. over periods of weeks or months. Their February prediction was released on January 31 and highlights the following:

cpc_feb16_temp

CPC February 2016 Temperature Outlook

cpc_feb16_precip

CPC February 2016 Precipitation Outlook

A quick look at the CPC February temperature outlook to the left shows the probability of temperatures being above or below average. The redder colors signify a higher chance of above average temperatures to finish the month whereas the blues snow a higher chance of below average temperatures.

The February outlook shows a slightly higher chance that most of Central and Southern Colorado will have below average temperatures. The Northern and Northwestern and to some degree the Northeastern corners show equal chances of above or below average temperatures. This is weather speak for, “it could go either way.”

The daily mean temperature for the Castle Rock area is 33.0 degrees and as of this post we are sitting at 21.9. Granted it is still quite early in the month and we are expecting some very warm days in the weeks ahead, this could change. As of right now the CPC outlook is right on target with below average temperatures.

When we look at the precipitation outlooks it shows a pretty decent chance of above average precipitation for the month. This is pretty much verified at this point since our early month snowstorm dropped more than a foot across the front range of Colorado. In addition, the mountains have received large amounts of snow continuously throughout late January and into February.

Since we are already at above average precipitation for the month,we can consider this outlook spot on. Now that we’ve looked at the month as a whole and found that things are pretty much going to plan, now we can start digging down into some deeper details about the next few weeks.

 

Next 6-10 Days

The CPC outlook for the next week or so essentially paints a bulls-eye for warm temperatures over the Western U.S.

cpc_feb16_6to10_temp

cpc_feb16_6to10_precip

As with many meteorology cases, it is always worth verifying this information. This is essentially a forecast so should this verify, we should see signals in the atmosphere to support it. What we would expect to see in the atmosphere with a period of drier and warmer weather is some sort of ridge building into the Western part of the country.

300mbconus

A look at the GFS model shows a pretty convincing signal. The upper level jet stream (winds at about 30,000 feet above sea level) show a very large and pronounced ridge across the Western U.S. In fact, this feature stays with us for quite a while and that’s why you will see a very similar outlook from the CPC for the next period which is 8-14 days out. A high pressure ridge over the state allows warm air to migrate North but also keeps storms away from Colorado.

Next 8-14 Days

Not much more to explain here, we see a very similar outlook.

cpc_feb16_8to14_tempcpc_feb16_8to14_precip

A much higher probability of above average temperatures with an equal chance of above or below average precipitation. All indications are at this point that the next 14 days will feature below average precipitation as that ridge is projected to continue over the Western U.S.

February Outlook Summary

With the current signals in the atmosphere here is what you should expect the rest of the month of February:

  • Above average precipitation
    • Mainly from our snowstorm at the beginning of the month, we have already recorded above average snowfall
    • I suspect the rest of February will be quite dry, things may see a change towards the end of the month but next 14 days look like a sure lock on dry weather
  • Average to slightly above average temperatures
    • The first week of the month started off quite cool, so as of this write-up, our mean temperature is well below average.
    • Given the next 2 weeks of much above average temperatures, I can see the mean rising very quickly.
    • I expect temperature to finish above average slightly or very close to average depending on how the last week of the month acts.

This should shine a light on the next 14 days and I think it will be pretty accurate. A look at temperatures for the next 2 weeks shows consistent daily highs in the 50’s and 60’s as far out as I can see. Our nighttime temperatures will be much warmer as well, projected to be in the upper 20’s and even lower 30’s in some cases.

I will be digging through more data in the coming days and should have a spring preview up this week that will highlight what to expect in February through April 2016. It should be a nice sneak preview of spring, stay tuned!

 

Broncos Parade Day Weather Outlook

 

The Denver Broncos Superbowl parade is scheduled for Tuesday in Denver. The good new is, the weather is going to be absolutely beautiful! This is not a tricky forecast, expect light winds and warm temperatures throughout the day.

WinterWxStory1_02082016

Coming this week… a look at the rest of February and a sneak peak into March. Stay tuned!

 

 

Castle Rock Weather Weekend Outlook Feb 5-7

WinterWxStory1_0205016

Friday February 5, 2016

Morning sunny skies will give way to partly cloudy conditions in the afternoon. Some areas may be a bit breezy throughout the day, especially near the foothills. Temperatures will top out in the upper 30’s with night time temperatures in the upper teens to low 20’s.

Saturday February 6, 2016

Mostly cloudy to partly cloudy skies  throughout the day. Temperatures will be much warmer with highs in the low to mid 50’s during the day and night time temps into the lower 20’s. Down-slope winds from the Southwest and West throughout the day will aid in the warm up, despite the snow on the ground, some areas may see breezy conditions.

Super Bowl Sunday February 7, 2016

Winds will shift to the East meaning our warm up will pause for a day or two. Expect cloudy to mostly cloudy conditions, winds should be light overall. Temperatures will reach the low 30’s during the day and upper teens to low 20’s overnight.

No snow is expected throughout the weekend, major snowstorms look unlikely for the next 7-10 days

One more thing…

Go Broncos!

Tuesday Winter Storm Update

Radar Loop Through 10AM


Colorado’s winter storm has performed as expected going into Monday night and Tuesday though,  as you can see from the radar loop above, the main energy of this storm has left Colorado. This will bring heavy snow and blizzard conditions to many areas in the midwest throughout the day. We still expect to see some light to moderate snowfall along the front range of Colorado as left over moisture and lift continue to combine today, so expect a bit more snow this morning.

Snowfall Totals So Far

WinterWxStory1_02022016

A look at the snowfall totals from this morning shows a bias towards East of town and South of town for higher snowfall. Areas in and around town generally seem to be between 10-12 inches. These numbers are from the NWS and are from trained spotters so they have been verified for accuracy and measured through a stricter protocol. The main issue with measurements today is the blowing and drifting snow, it makes some areas collect more snow than others so we have to account for this.

For the Rest of Tuesday

WinterWxStory2_02022016

Expect light to moderate snow to remain throughout the morning with gradual clearing this afternoon. We should see cloudy to party cloudy conditions into the late afternoon and overnight hours. This will make for very cold evening so bundle up!

 

Winter Storm Ramping Up Across Front Range

The Winter Storm’s center has finally made its move over the Southeast corner of Colorado and has shifted the winds and moisture to be more favorable for snowfall along the front range. This will probably be my last forecast post on this storm so let’s take a look at where we stand.

Model Updates

WinterWxStory1a_02012016

You’ll notice, no GFS! Mainly because these shorter range models are much more accurate (although the GFS is accurate at this point as well) I generally like the NAM4K and HRRR at this point as they are much higher resolution and can pick up finer details better.

These images show what you can expect on top of what you already have this evening, so if you already have 3 or 4, expect another 3 or 4 more tonight. Tuesday morning should end up with around 5-10 inches for Denver, I expect higher totals South of Denver so Castle Rock should finish in the 6-12 inch range. The one wild-card here is the East/West gradient, I’d suspect areas immediately East of the town of Castle Rock could possible see more.

Tuesday Morning Impact

Whatever the snow totals for us along the front range, the roads were very bad this evening going into tonight. A layer of ice has formed under snowpack collecting on the roads and led to several accidents. Some major highways are closed (I-70 is closed East of Denver to Kansas)

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Image courtesy of CDOT

I-25 is looking pretty rough at the moment, the roads will be pretty dicey with the combination of wind and snow throughout the night. Plan on allowing a ton of extra time if you have to travel in the morning.

School delays and closings are a possibility to so tune to local media for that information, or our friends at CRCO usually have that information as well.

One last thing I’ll mention is that some radar loops show this storm slowing down. If this occurs and the storm stalls, we could see additional snowfall into Tuesday late morning. This would increase overall storm totals, not ready to call anything on that yet as most models don’t see this as a significant change. Should this happen, I’ll have one more update early tomorrow.

This should be my last forecast post on this storm, I usually try to follow up with a couple of recap posts after the storm has passed. I hope you all enjoyed my coverage and thank you to everyone who joined me to follow this storm!

 

Winter Storm Still on Track

A lot of folks are waking up this morning and asking, “where is the storm?”, “did the storm miss us?”

The answer is no, it is just not here yet. Sunday night into Monday’s snow featured initial bands of snow that pushed into the area ahead of the storm, it was never going to be the main focus.

You can see from the graphic below the storm position as of this morning versus where it will be this afternoon. The position it is in this morning is not favorable for snow along the front range of Colorado so we are waiting for it to move Eastward. Once it makes it East of the divide and into Southeastern Colorado we should begin to see more and heavier bands of snow push into the area. This could start as early as this afternoon, so be aware about that with the evening commute.

The bottom row in the graphic shows the HRRR at various times this afternoon, you can see that it is predicting some heavier snow between the 1-8pm hours, so as of right now this storm is mostly on track to bring good snow to the area this afternoon and tonight.

WinterWxStory1_02012016

We had a quick look at the models this morning and they remained mostly on target as to where they were late last night. Snow totals have decreased overall mainly because of an increase in the speed of the storm. If there is nothing out East to block it or slow it down, it moves through Colorado very quickly. The quicker the storm moves through, the less time it has to drop significant snow over Colorado.

WinterWxStory2_02012016

The models still snow significant snow by Tuesday morning. Due to the elevation Denver may see slightly less, probably in the 5-10 inch range. Castle Rock and areas along the Palmer Divide will see 6-12 inches with possible higher amounts East of Castle Rock towards Limon.

The 6-12 inch range looks likely for the Castle Rock area, but as you can see from the probabilities below, the lower amount of this range is most likely. A total accumulation over 4 inches is likely, over 6 inches is even decently likely but you can see as you try to accumulate over the 8 inch range your probability is only about 40%. This doesn’t mean it won’t happen, it just means it is less likely to see over 8 inches of snow. Accumulation over a foot is very unlikely based on this data.

WPC_prob_02012016

Data Source: The Weather Prediction Center

Keep in mind if this all verifies (likely it will) tonight’s commute home may be a rough one!

Stay tuned and we’ll have further updates if any of this changes by this afternoon.

 

 

Significant Winter Storm to Affect Colorado Front Range

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The National Weather Service in Denver has pulled the trigger and upgraded our Winter Storm Watch to a Winter Storm Warning. They have also adjusted the start time from midnight to 8:00pm Sunday.

A Winter Storm Warning means that a winter storm containing heavy snowfall will make travel conditions dangerous. They specifically mention the Monday morning timeline, Monday during the day, overnight Monday and into Tuesday morning.

You can read the NWS Warning Statement here for extra details

Castle Rock’s Snowfall Prediction

Monday Morning: 3-6 inches

Tuesday Morning: 8-14 inches

*Don’t let the low totals fool you on Monday AM, roads may get quite bad very quickly!

Synopsis

Model guidance as of this afternoon continues to hone in on this storm. They are still not completely in agreement with some significant out-liers either way but two of the ones I tend to trust more in this time frame are pretty close together in agreement.

Snow will begin Sunday evening and become a bit heavier overnight into Monday morning. Don’t expect a huge amount of snow Monday morning for the commute but do expect icy roads, stronger winds and tough travel conditions.

If you make the trek into work on Monday morning, please keep in mind conditions are expected to deteriorate throughout the day. The Monday evening commute could be one heck of a mess.

Snowfall is expected to continue through the day Monday and will become heavier later in the day into the evening. The Monday evening commute could be a very messy one if this verifies.

Snow will continue overnight Monday and into Tuesday morning. The combination of cold temperatures, continued snowfall and strong winds could make travel dangerous through this period.

Modeling Updates

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First we look at the projected snowfall totals through Monday morning. Most agree on the 3-6 inch range by morning, this along with strong winds could make the roads icy very quickly.

When looking at total storm accumulation by Wednesday morning:

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I cannot stress this enough but, these are preliminary model runs and I expect these totals to change going into Sunday night. I will have updates as necessary.

meter

The forecast confidence right now is moderate. This mainly because there is still uncertainty between models on the overall positioning of this storm. Any wobble going into this evening could mean much higher or lower snow totals.

Stick with us as we will have updates this evening with any changes with this storm; higher or lower.