Potential Colorado Blizzard

A big forecasting challenge upcoming for the Front Range area through Friday. All week, I've been tracking the next front which is suppose to swing down from the north. Up til today, it looked very benign, however, the models have intensified a low pressure system that could draw up some extra moisture from Paul making for a very interesting situation!

The range of possibilities of this scenario go from our original thinking of a benign and windy system to a potent blizzard over the Eastern Plains and Front Range. This is shown in the wide range of numbers cranked out for precip by the various models. For instance, numbers on the NGM at Denver have only 0.02 inches of liquid while the NAM's numbers crank out about 0.63 inches of liquid. The GFS graphic from Dupage has us sitting under a ONE inch bulls-eye in 48 hours (12z Thursday). Not to mention the other forecasts from 42 and 54 hours which peak us at over 1.5 inches total for this storm. Snow ratios similar to the previous two storms would have us sitting at nearly 2 feet of snow.

Of course, snow depends on how cold we can get and how fast we can get there. Timing of the front is still an issue and will determine how much of this precip falls as snow after the front has passed.

Another issues showing up on Futurecast and models is a northwesterly wind component which would dramatically reduce snow totals across the Denver Metro area. This would create a downslope effect over the immediate front range and all but kill any chance for measurable snow. However, if this system deepens and slows a bit, we would see more upslope and allow for snow accumulations to increase here in town. This would bring those significant accumulations east of Denver and along the Palmer Divide.

I think the Eastern Plains from I-70 southward will get nailed with blizzard conditions in the form of strong winds and blowing snow. Accumulations are the big question where things track!

I'll continue to watch this system with eager intent and hope that we can get a decent storm for out of this. Right now, I'm leaning toward the side of caution with the northwest winds keeping me from getting too excited. However, watching the models flips as hard as they have over the last 24 hours definately has me hopeful.
I'll be posting updates throughout the night on my weather blog on my website. I'll be pulling an all-nighter for the first time in ages. I use to do this as a kid in Ohio tracking severe weather into the night, so I am very excited to be getting a chance to do it again! The difference is that I'll be at the Channel 7 studios here in Denver as I'll be on-call til the precip changeover where I'll head back downtown and hunker down in studio to cover what could be a major storm for the Metro area!

My official forecast from earlier today had 6-12 inches of snow with the heaviest accumulations in the southern and western sections of the Metro area where even higher amounts could fall. The changeover and snow duration into tomorrow will be the ultimate factors for total snow depth as the dynamics and position of this system look to be very good!

Again, those up all night or anyone else can follow me on my blog as I'll update as regularly as I can. I'm working on a way to post pictures as well, and if I am able to do so, I'll have pictures throughout the event going into tomorrow!


Here's to a wicked storm! :)
Looks like the SPC has already issued an MCD west of the metro stating that precip will changeover around 6Kft in elevation across the mountain ranges west of Denver. Hope you have one heck of a snowstorm, Tony!
We just had an intense gropple storm complete with lightning west of Denver at 8000' near Black Hawk Colorado. Here it comes!

Edit: it's snowing steady at my house now at 9080' 10 miles west of Denver - 1" per hour at least.
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With the system digging so much, it looks as if the colder air will have more time to work its way down the Front Range before the precip really gets going in the Urban Corridor. 0Z NAM has a lot of QPF over Denver at 12Z... should be all snow by then.

I'm north of town, so I haven't been expecting much in the way of accumulation... starting to think otherwise, though.
Freezing precip has begun to fall here in Lakewood. I imagine snow is within an hour or two here. Temps are cooling fast!

And of course, blogger is having technical issues... bastards! LOL



Two feet of snow now at my house west of Denver. It's still snowing hard, my plow ran out of gas in the driveway and partially blocked our cars in the garage.
While it seems like every other part of the state is getting SLAMMED by this snowstorm (see Verne's awesome pix), the far northeastern plains of CO have completely missed out.:mad: It didn't even begin to rain until about 7:30 this morning, and it wasn't terribly heavy, but visibilities were reduced at times because the howling northerly wind was blowing it sideways. It never got cold enough out here for the flakes to fly, I think the coldest it got this morning was 34 degrees. It only rained for about two hours and then it quit, and now all we have is a very raw, bitter wind which is howling out of the north at about 40-50 mph sustained with gusts to 60. Several motorists I talked to that came up I-76 from Denver said that it was outright blizzard conditions until they got to Wiggins Hill, which is right on the Morgan/Weld county line three miles west of Wiggins, and that it went from blinding snow and low visibilites at Roggen to no precip and perfect visibility in less than two miles! :eek:
It seems like the cutoff of the precipitation shield and snow line with this storm was right on the south and west edges of Morgan County, as Woodrow, which is literally ON the Morgan/Washington County line on Highway 71, reported two inches of snow, but just 15 miles north at Brush no snow fell at all.
I was just thinking about how similar yet how different this blizzard and the Blizzard of 1997 were. They were both storm systems that originated in the Pacific Northwest, dove across the Great Basin and settled in over far southeastnern CO/the Oklahoma Panhandle, providing intense upslope flow, which resulted in incredible snowfall rates. But in the '97 storm we got 16 inches of snow and five foot drifts. This go around we didn't get jack squat. I think the biggest difference was that the '97 blizzard had colder air to work with, and tracked about 50-100 miles further north than this storm has tracked.
I'm very frustrated right now as we DESPERATELY needed the moisture from this storm in this area, but all we got out of it was maybe two tenths of an inch of rain AT THE MOST, and this hellacious wind is going to suck it right back out of the ground and deplete the already moisture starved soil even further. I'm trying to be happy for the other 90% of the state that got this much needed wet, heavy snow, but it's hard to be cheery when everyone else is getting filet mignon and you're handed a steak bone. :mad:
Well, from Chris's post and viewing the visible satellite loop, it looks like everything north of a line from Loveland to Roggen to Last Chance got screwed out of any substantial precip, rain or snow. I think that aforementioned subsidence flow killed most everything north of that line. This, unfortunately, is not an uncommon occurence. The north central/northeastern corner of the state usually get gypped like this year round thanks to being sandwiched between the most famous topographical snow and convection focus points in the Great Plains, the Cheyenne Ridge and Palmer Divide. It is really hard for us to get a favorable flow pattern conducive to sustained heavy precipitation over this part of the state; in order for Sterling/Fort Morgan/Greeley/Fort Collins to get a heavy accumulating snow, we basically have to have the wind coming straight out of the east because there is no topographical feature east of the area for the heaviest snow to hang up on. Because if the prevailing flow is from either the northeast or southeast (which it is for 9 out of 10 storms year round) the heavier snow/precipitation bands and convection get caught up on either the Cheyenne Ridge, Palmer Divide or both. Oh the joys of living in northeastern CO... NOT!!! I have a nasty feeling this is going to be yet another non-winter for this part of state, for the fifth year in a row. No wonder my dad's considering selling off his farm equipment and finding a job in town...
You lucky bums! We got ripped off, as usual, in Fort Collins. A little cute, fluffy dusting. I love living in a hole of subsidence flow. I have no clue how it was rated the best place to live in America.

Yeah, I mean, Detroit has so much more to offer than FC!

And for the record, you guys can keep all your snow, and please take all of ours for the year.
Total accumulation at my house in Firestone is 5.2". The temperature actually remained above freezing most of the morning (just barely, but above freezing nonetheless), so I suspect that limited accumulations somewhat. Nothing spectacular, but nice for October.
It's SOO nice to watch your forecast verifiy this well! There were a few differences in what happened, but all-in-all, one of my better snowstorm forecasting I uploaded my log on Thursday's winter storm which totalled up 10 inches here in Lakewood by storm's end. You can view that log here! I've included all the pictures and snow totals (thanks to Chris Spears at 7News for compiling that list). What an awesome storm and a terrific day! I had a blast interning at 7News for this and without a doubt would say this is the best experience I've had thus far in this semester internship! The energy of everyone in the studio this morning made this an incredibly fun event to work! Its amazing how many people on so little sleep can be as excited to be at work! You know when you're that way, you've found what you love to do. And everyone, anchors, reporters, and us weather nerds, sure seemed excited and happy to be working this event! I sure was!





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