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Colorado weather: Snowpack will get boost from incoming winter storm
October 25, 2021
While Denver has yet to see its first measurable snow of the season, mountain locations have been getting their fair share of winter-like weather. Numerous storms throughout October have left the high mountain peaks coated with snow and that has added up nicely in terms of our early season snowpack.
Snowpack is 296-percent of normal currently with the Gunnison headwaters a startling 831-percent of normal. These big early-season numbers come from the fact that there is not typically a lot of snow seen in October so the averages are low but this October has delivered more than two feet of snow to many mountain ranges.
A benefit of early-season snowpacks numbers is it allows the season to start earlier which alludes to the point that the snowpack season will last longer into April and May.
An Atmospheric River of moisture has been making weather headlines over the last several days as a copious amount of rain and snow has fallen across California and the West coast. Energy from that Atmospheric River and an associated cold front will make it to Colorado by Tuesday and will bring another round of snow and wind to the mountains.
So far, winter weather advisories are issued for the San Juan mountains only for up to 8 inches of snow and wind gusts as high as 60 mph. Travel will be difficult to near impossible across mountain passes as early as Tuesday morning. Areas near Silverton and Wolf Creek will see the most intense weather from this storm.
Other areas near Aspen and Steamboat will also see snow above 9,000-feet and very gusty winds up to 50 mph. Accumulations in the Central and Northern mountains will be less than in the San Juans but up to 6 inches of snow could fall on some of the higher peaks.
Mountain passes across the state are likely to have issues at times of heavier snowfall rates — especially Tuesday morning. This includes I-70 near the Eisenhower-Johnson tunnel and Vail Pass.
While lower elevations are not expecting snow, rain showers will be likely Tuesday afternoon and evening along the urban corridor. It’s not out of the question for the rain to switch to snow for areas on the Palmer Divide as cold air settles in, but no impacts or accumulations are anticipated currently.
The incoming snow will only add to the snowpack we currently have and with much of the state experiencing drought conditions, this early-season moisture is more than welcome.