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Rocky Mountain Snowstorm, March 12-14, 2021

John Farley

During the period from March 12 to 14, a major snowstorm impacted much of the Rocky Mountain region. Most of the media attention went to northern Colorado and southern Wyoming, where the storm produced record and near record snowfall in a number of areas. But there was also some interesting weather in the mountains of southern Colorado and northern New Mexico that got far less attention, but did offer up some nice photo ops for me in Santa Fe, NM. I have put together a Web page with some photos of some rather impressive convection that produced brief heavy bursts of graupel and ordinary snow in parts of Santa Fe and the nearby foothills, and marked the beginnings of a much more significant snowfall in the mountains of northern NM that lasted for 30 hours and produced snow totals in excess of 20 inches. The Web page also includes some discussions of why the heavy snow was widespread over northern Colorado and southern Wyoming, but much more limited to the mountains in New Mexico and Southern Colorado. You can access the Web page at:

Nice pics John! Wish winter weather got more attention here on ST, for guys like me in PA it is all I have to look forward to weatherwise outside of my chase vacation (because local summer thunderstorms always disappoint). Winter storms can at least provide tracking opportunities (even if they don’t pan out), for a full two or three months every year, far outweighing my two week chase vacation. I don’t know the first thing about forecasting them though; understanding the variables that affect precipitation type, especially here where I am always on the rain/snow line, seem far more challenging and confusing to me than severe weather parameters. It was only over the last few years that I came to appreciate that snowstorms are as dependent upon mesoscale processes as severe weather.
It is incredibly challenging to precisely locate the rain-snow line. I see forecasts bust on that all the time, and it makes a huge difference when you get snow when rain was forecast or vice versa.
Nice shots! If there is something I love more than a good tornado is a really good snowstorm! Agree with the above poster that I wish winter weather got more attention here on ST! Lot of really great photo ops out there during the cold season outside of chasing tornadoes!
Nice photos John!
I've been wanting a good blizzard for awhile now. And was deff looking forward to this one when it showed up in the forecasts. Made sure the cameras were charged & ready for taking video/pictures. (which ofcourse was done) .lol.
Saturday started out with rain (rain in winter??) then converted to heavy snow, but then later in the day slowed to just light snow (guess I was in the dry slot they mentioned in forecast). Honestly I was disappointed figuring this over-hyped storm was a dud. .. .But still held out hope for Sunday because updated forecasts were saying the main part of the system/energy had slowed & would be delayed a day.
Watching the heavy snow & wind blowing it Sunday certainly didn't disappoint. :) I think I only got a bit over a foot though :( it was hard to get a good estimate with all the drifting!