A Dud of a Snowstorm in Nederland

Not that I expected Nederland to get much snow from this storm, but as a meteorologist and a snow geek at heart I always hope that a storm will produce more snowfall than expected. However, none of the ingredients we need for a decent snowstorm here in the Front Range Foothills were there with this system. While it does have plenty of energy and moisture, and it did dump several feet of snow in parts of the San Juan Mountains in southwestern Colorado, this storm was just too far south to produce good upslope flow. It is a different story on the Eastern Plains of Colorado tonight where it is currently snowing hard and travel is difficult.

It did snow for a while last night here in Ned. We only had about 2.5 inches, but what was interesting was how dry that snow was.  It only had 0.03 inches of liquid in it. Since this implies a 60:1 snowfall ratio, I measured it a few times. However, the result was the same.  I did not think a 60:1 ratio snowfall was even possible. Now, studies have shown that the snow in the Rockies is some of the driest – on average – in the country.  From my own observations, we often see 20:1 snowfalls in January, and these get a bit wetter in the spring. By April, we average 12:1 snowfalls.  The drier the snow, the lighter it is. The lighter the snow, the easier it is to shovel, plow, drive in, etc. One reason East Coast storms can be so debilitating is because they are so heavy and wet.

A band of heavy snow did push through the Foothills this afternoon, and there were actually reports of thunder and lightning. It snowed hard at our house for about 20 minutes, and we picked up about an inch. That is about a 3 inch per hour snowfall rate, which is respectable – it just did not last long.

The upper level storm system responsible for our unsettled weather will finally push to our east on Saturday morning. I think we will see periods of light snow through tonight until the axis of the upper level trough swings though. Accumulations should be light, no more than an additional 1-2 inches. After this storm system exits to the east this weekend, warmer and drier weather will return. We will finally reach above 32 F this coming week. It will feel like a heat wave!


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