After an active couple of weeks of snow for the Front Range and Urban Corridor, the snow cycle has left us basking in the warmth of a strong winter sun.
The recent cycle of snow we endured brought Denver back to a reasonable spot in terms of seasonal snow accumulation which is good news considering how the season started. The thing is, the recent storm cycle largely missed much of the high country, leaving them with mediocre snow totals over the past couple of weeks. January began in the mountains with above-average snowpack numbers, and thank goodness for that because due to the lack of snow, snowpack numbers are much lower than where they were a month ago.
Working through a time series of snowfall this season paints the picture of how this season has evolved. Above is a look at the snowfall totals for the season back on Dec. 1, 2021. It shows an overall lack of snow cover for the Eastern Plains while the mountains were covered with near-normal snows. Fast forward one month, and you’ll notice that some areas began to fill in.
By early January, some snow finally started to cover the Eastern Plains while at this point, the mountains were in the midst of getting hammered by several big snowstorms. Many mountain locations gained 3 to 8 feet of snow during the storm cycle over the holidays. Fast forward to present day, mountain totals haven’t changed much but the Eastern Plains got in on the winter action recently.
Between early January and early February, Denver (downtown) picked up quite a bit of snow leaving the area close to the average for the date in terms of seasonal snow. More on that below.
Overall, this season has been one of ebbs and flows. There have been periods of heavy snow region-wide, but there have also been bouts of dry and warm weather. When condensing all of this together, we can get an idea of where we stand compared to average.
Snowpack across Colorado is overall good, but these numbers are down a good bit from where they were a month ago when snowpack statewide was nearing 130% of normal. While we’ve lost a good deal of snow with the mild and dry weather in the mountains, the big storms we saw around the holidays gave us a great cushion. However, that cushion has been almost completely eradicated, so it’s about time for us to get some snow back up there.
The active weather we’ve had along the Front Range possibly gave the impression that the mountains were getting just as much snow but that was not the case. Most mountain locations saw near no snow over the last few weeks.
Looking at the map above, it’s clear that the east side of the state was favored in the recent storm cycles. Areas from Fort Collins to Boulder to Denver to Colorado Springs saw 200% to 300% of normal snow while the mountains west of the divide received a fraction of what they typically expect from Jan. 1 to now.
While the mountains are near normal in terms of snow, for now, the lack of snow in the forecast may bring those numbers down further before they begin to rise again. A similar story is shaping up on the Plains. While most cities along the Urban Corridor have seen big snows in the last few weeks, snowpack compared to normal is less than average currently.
Denver (Central Park) is 97% of normal in terms of snowfall this season thanks to the near double-digit snow that fell earlier this month. Boulder is sitting at 82% of normal snow this season while Colorado Springs is sitting at 66% of normal.
The upcoming forecast is a bit bleak. A ridge of high pressure will dominate the weather over the next week, leaving us with mostly mild temperatures with clear skies. However, a few weak disturbances may move close enough by us to bring us some low-impact effects.
The first low-impact event comes Wednesday as a cold front moves across the eastern half of the state bringing central and northern mountain locations as much as 2 or 3 inches of snow by Thursday morning. The chance of a snow shower or two in Denver is not out of the question, but there won’t be much moisture to work with so even if it does happen, it won’t be much.
Our next weak disturbance comes Friday as a slightly stronger cold front passes by. This will bring the central and northern mountains another round of 1 to 3 inches of snow and could potentially bring the Urban Corridor an inch or two of snow Friday night to Saturday.
Looking further out, the aforementioned ridge of high pressure will gain back control and that could bring Denver close to 65 degrees for afternoon highs early next week. Normally when we see that kind of warmth, it’s ahead of a changing weather pattern and that is what is expected for the middle of next week.
A possible storm is brewing in the long-term that could deliver a decent bout of snow to Colorado. Of course, with this storm being a week away, we’ll have to wait a bit to see how things align but for now, we have some mediocre snow chances mixed into some mid-winter warmth. Let’s get that snow train running again, we are still in a significant drought and will welcome any and all moisture.
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