Colorado snow forecasting 101

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Information about Colorado snow forecasting 101

Published on October 24, 2013

Author: findOpensnow



Slides often used by meteorologist Joel Gratz in his presentations about Colorado snowfall.

Colorado Snow Forecasting 101 Meteorologist Joel Gratz Photo: Connor Walberg

How this presentation will help you: 1) Remove mystery of Colorado weather. 2) Find the most snow.

Hi, I’m Joel Gratz. I grew up in Pennsylvania, ski raced and instructed, then moved to Colorado after college.

And I started to miss powder days due to inaccurate forecasts.

And it made me mad!

So I learned how to forecast in Colorado, and started to share. Dec 2007 28 people email list 2008-2009 500 people email list 2009-2010 245,000 pageviews 2010-2011 1,315,000 pageviews 2011-2012 3,330,000 pageviews 2012-2013 12,000,000 pageviews

Big Weather (primary care doctor) (knee surgeon)

Actual Storm Track

16 Day Forecast

15 Day Forecast

14 Day Forecast

13 Day Forecast

12 Day Forecast

11 Day Forecast

10 Day Forecast

9 Day Forecast

8 Day Forecast

7 Day Forecast

6 Day Forecast

5 Day Forecast

4 Day Forecast

3 Day Forecast

2 Day Forecast

1 Day Forecast

Actual Storm Track

When to trust the forecast 10 days + storm or no storm + cold, hot, dry, moist 3-5 days + details becoming clearer 1-2 days + details are as clear as possible

How to plan 7-10 days 4-5 days 2-3 days Toast to possibilities Clear your schedule Pretend you’re getting sick

Weather is not magic. It’s physics. Forecasts are rarely perfect, but they are getting better every year. Study them, don’t dismiss them.

Long range forecasts stink! We cannot reliably predict snow accumulations beyond about two weeks. Seasonal outlooks are even worse.

Weather happens when moist air gets high 1 2 3

Where’s the moisture? Less moisture (land source) Lots of moisture (ocean source) OK moisture (ocean + plants)

Orographics get air high

Mountains = Precipitation Indian Peaks / RMNP Park Range Flattops Gore Ten Mile & Mosquito Grand Mesa Elk Mtns N&S San Juans Sawatch Sangre de Christo East San Juans

Favorable wind directions Steamboat RMNP Summit Co. Aspen Powderhorn Vail Crested Butte Telluride Silverton Wolf Creek

Breckenridge: NW to N winds e or G ge n Ra Vail Pass

Vail: Northwest winds e or G ge n Ra Beaver Creek Vail Vail Pass

Beaver Creek: West winds e or G ge n Ra Beaver Creek Vail Vail Pass

Telluride: West winds

Vail January 31, 2013

Moisture in the air 10F 0F Temperature >> colder

The best snow requires... • Lots of moisture • Mountain top temperatures between about 0-10F • Not too much wind

Wind directions? Complicated. What about radar? Nope. There’s a problem...

Jamming the Radar

Overshooting the Snow 0.5 deg

Denver Airport Grand Mesa Pueblo

Steamboat Vail Aspen RMNP Summit Co. Crested Butte Telluride Wolf Creek

Colorado is a state of extremes The difference between a wet year and a dry year can come down to the presence or absence of just a few major storms. Joe Ramey, National Weather Service Grand Juntion, Slide #8 2009-2010 Winter Outlook for Colorado

Colorado is a state of extremes More than half of the total annual precipitation falls in only 20% of the days when precipitation occurs. Joe Ramey, National Weather Service Grand Juntion, Slide #8 2009-2010 Winter Outlook for Colorado

Example: Schofield Pass

Example: Schofield Pass 2 of 60 storms created 25% of the total season snow

Joel Gratz

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