Published on October 24, 2013
Colorado Snow Forecasting 101 Meteorologist Joel Gratz Photo: Connor Walberg ActionPhotoSchool.com
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 http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/nexradinv/
Steamboat Vail Aspen RMNP Summit Co. Crested Butte Telluride Wolf Creek http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/nexradinv/
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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