Nederland’s streak of warm and dry weather will finally break this Thursday as a fast moving storm system busts through the ridge which has provided us with weeks of unseasonably mild temperatures. This storm will bring some welcome moisture to Front Range Mountains and Foothills followed by a surge of some of the coldest air of the season so far … And this is all after record breaking warmth on Colorado’s Northeastern Plains. Here in Nederland, temperatures reached 60F on Tuesday. By Friday, highs will struggle to get out of the 20s. Brrrr! And it will be breezy with wind chills in the teens. Normal daytime temperatures for this time of year are in the low 40s.
The brunt of the storm system will affect Nederland and the surrounding Foothills Communities Thursday afternoon and Thursday evening. While this system has plenty of energy and lift, there are a few things to consider when making a snowfall forecast:
- The ground is warm. This will help to limit initial accumulations, even up at 8200 feet
- The winds in the low and mid levels of the atmosphere will be predominantly from the north to north northwest. This is not favorable for heavy snow in Nederland and the foothills adjacent to Boulder. These areas do better with upslope winds blowing more from the east.
- This storm is a fast mover. Most of the precipitation will fall in a period of 6-8 hours.
- The storm has marginal amounts of moisture but plenty of lift (what meterologists call dynamics)
- The track of the upper level low and main energy is a bit too far to our north
Given all of these factors, items 1,2,3, and 5 will likely limit snowfall accumulations in Nederland. The lift and moisture (item 4) will overcome the poor wind direction for a little while, but overall this type of storm set up will favor areas along the Continental Divide north near the Wyoming border and Rocky Mountain National Park. Places just to the west of the Divide like Winter Park could also pick up better snow accumulations, especially on the northerly winds and residual moisture behind the storm.
I’ll post another update on Wednesday night, but right now accumulations in the 3-5 inch range look reasonable, with amounts over 6 inches closer to the Divide, especially at elevations over 9000 feet. Roads are warm. I’d expect the Thursday afternoon commute to initially feature mainly wet roads in the canyons leading up to the Foothills towns. However, as temperatures plummet Thursday evening roads will become icy in places, especially after sunset. Take your time if you have to drive Thursday night.