Confidence Increasing for Significant Colorado Winter Storm

WinterWxStory1_01302016Model guidance is beginning to agree that a large storm system will affect Colorado between Sunday night and Tuesday night. Each model across the board increased overall snowfall accumulations with last night’s run,  mainly due to a northward shift by several of these models. The biggest question still remaining is the final placement of the storm center. While many of these models have this in the same area, some of them do not which still creates uncertainty in the forecast.

What we know for sure as of this morning:

  • Nearly all models are in agreement that Colorado and especially the front range will see snow during the Sunday – Tuesday night period
  • The mountains and foothills will see heavy snow
  • Winds of 15-25 knots (17-28 mph) will be possible during the storm along the front range, this could create considerable blowing and drifting of snow
  • Front range could see periods of heavy snow and wind, especially later in the day Monday and overnight into Tuesday
  • Most models show between 10-25 inches total snowfall for this storm. Please keep in mind, this is still very early and we expect those numbers to change significantly in the next 24-48 hours

GFS predicted snowfall (top) NAM predicted snowfall (bottom)

This Could be a High Impact Storm

We continue to stress that should this storm set up correctly, the snowfall numbers won’t be the issue to look at. What will be important is the impact, at the end of the day, does it matter if you get 2 feet or 3 feet of snow if all the roads are closed and you are not able to travel? Nope! This storm is not really 50/50 anymore, it is more like 60/40 leaning towards a significant storm, this confidence should trend upwards with more consistent model runs today.

Use Saturday as your preparation day for these impacts!

  • A prolonged period of heavy snow and high winds is expected
  • Roads will become icy and snow packed, roads to our East may become impassable due to drifting snow
  • Airline cancellations and delays will be very likely
  • School and business closures will be possible
  • Travel will become very treacherous at times


Get your errands done today, get to the store and don’t leave anything to the last minute. Be prepared! Stay tuned here and we will provide more updates as this storm system evolves. Happy Saturday!


John R. Braddock
Storm Chaser/ Amateur Meteorologist at Mountain Wave Weather
John R. Braddock is a NOAA/NWS Certified Storm Chaser and Amateur Meteorologist living in Castle Rock, Colorado. A graduate of Colorado State University with a Bachelor's in Computer Science and a Colorado native, he specializes in short range forecasting, severe weather and mountain weather dynamics.


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    • Brian Chipman on January 30, 2016 at 2:11 pm
    • Reply

    I really appreciate your input John…

    1. Thank you Brian!

    • joe tepoorten on January 30, 2016 at 7:49 pm
    • Reply

    How does the fountain co. Area look??

    1. Hi Joe,
      This will depend a lot on how the storm system finally sets up. Some models have a southern bias, which means areas in the springs and south will see more than areas North of the springs. As of this morning, the snowfall range (based on the model runs) shows that area with a range between 6-12 inches. Right now most of the models average out right around the 10 inch range, but this may wobble higher or lower as we go throughout the day.

      Here’s a look as of this morning:
      Snowfall Model Ensemble as of morning 1-31-2016

    • Kim on January 31, 2016 at 8:42 am
    • Reply

    Just came across your page. How often do you update?

    1. Hi Kim,

      When there’s something significant going on with the weather, I usually try to have a couple updates per day or if there is severe weather I’ll post quite a bit. When the weather is quieter usually I’m not posting as much, maybe a few times per week.

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