The State of the Atmosphere: Sunday, March 27, 2016

Temperatures warmed nicely this afternoon across the region after yet another wintry blast brought more rain and snow to Colorado Friday night and Saturday. Today all winter weather highlights have expired across the state, though that may be short-lived as our next system takes shape across the west early this week.

Officially, Denver has recorded 18.4" of snow so far this March. That's well above the monthly average of 11.4". Even more impressive, Denver International Airport's (where official records are kept) numbers are likely more than 5 - 10" lower than many areas across the metro area, as DIA had one of the lowest snowfall totals from Wednesday's blizzard. At our station in central Denver, we have recorded 21.7" so far this the month, with 20.0" being recorded month-to-date at City Park. Boulder's COOP station has seen some of the greatest totals from across the area, with 31.46" of snow through today.

Related: Denver's top 5 biggest March snowstorms

In a word, impressive. Especially when you consider the warm and dry February we just experienced. You'll recall, that way back in February, we were getting the word out that we thought March could deliver this year – and so far it has. It took a few weeks, but as is so often the case with "good winters" and "bad winters" around here, it's come down to the difference of a big storm or two or none at all.

The week ahead
The week ahead will feature one last storm to end the month, and with it another chance for snowfall across the region. First, we warm up – highs Monday and Tuesday will both climb into the lower 60s across the metro area, with mostly sunny skies helping to melt the snow we have around here.

By late in the day Tuesday, we start to see changes arrive, with both Wednesday and Thursday looking chilly and unsettled across the region.

As for snow... this system once held quite a bit of promise for another big snowfall event somewhere across northern Colorado, but trends over recent days are to keep the bulk of the energy pretty far north. Under this scenario, we may see some snowfall across much of northeast Colorado, but the heaviest snow would remain locked up over Wyoming.

In the image below, you'll see the GFS digs out a big trough by Tuesday across the Great Basin (left), but by Wednesday, the trough becomes a bit more elongated, with the bulk of the energy (center of the low) tracking northeast across Colorado into western Nebraska. For better snow chances across northeast Colorado, we'd like to see the low stay a bit further south.

Weather5280 Models

This is reflected in the snowfall forecast from the same model. A pretty great week ahead for much of Nevada, Utah and Wyoming, but less favorable for heavy snowfall across Colorado.

Weather5280 Models

Of course, the forecast track could change... and with that it's important to keep an eye on this system. The Canadian, for example, has the low a bit further south, and with that a better chance of snow across northern Colorado. The EURO too is a bit further south, though has a tendency to split the energy a bit, with some ejecting northeast much like the GFS.

In short, if the system starts trending a bit further south our snowfall chances will increase – if it stays as is or goes further north, it'll be more of a cool down and unsettled period, and less about heavy snowfall around here. It'd be great to squeeze in one more good snow across the region before the month ends, and we see (at least a brief) warm up to start April.

For now, plan on a few nice days, followed by a few chilly and unsettled days this coming week. How much snow will be possible by midweek remains in question. We'll continue to hammer out the details, and see how this next system eventually will affect the region.

Brendan Heberton

Brendan is founder of Weather5280. He is co-founder of FreshyMap, and develops software for geospatial data analysis and visualization.

Denver, Colorado
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