The State of the Atmosphere: Sunday, January 22, 2017

Our pattern is shifting a bit to a quieter one after several weeks of pretty active weather across the state. Before then, however, we have to keep an eye on one more system this coming week. As it stands, it looks like the best snow chances will end up across northern Colorado, Wyoming, and Nebraska.

Our mountains, which have had a great January, will continue to see some appreciable snowfall over the coming days. Winter weather alerts are up for most of western Colorado, with 10 - 24" forecast for the higher terrain through Tuesday afternoon. Here's the latest GFS forecast showing all that snow headed for the high country:

Weather5280 Models

Our best chance of snow across the plains will likely be Monday night and Tuesday as a pretty strong trough - now digging over the western U.S. - eventually tracks across extreme northern Colorado and then into the northern high plains for Tuesday and Wednesday. Barring an unlikely big shift in consensus modeling, the low should end up too far north for meaningful impacts across the Denver area. In a lot of ways, this track reminds me of the Christmas storm, though may deliver less snowfall than that across the northeast Colorado plains:

Tropical Tidbits

Tropical Tidbits

The maps above (500mb top, surface low) show the track along the northern Colorado border, with the surface low sitting somewhere across northeast Colorado early Tuesday morning.

Model Talk: This track won't produce much snow east of the Rockies. The EURO mean has about an inch of snow across the plains, with the GEFS mean in the same ballpark. Meanwhile, the operational GEM came in a bit snowier today, but it's likely "out to lunch" on this scenario unless we see a pretty sizable shift from other models tonight.

In any event, we'll keep an eye on things and offer additional updates if needed. In the meantime, plan for a least a chance of snow showers Monday night and Tuesday along with a few days of cooler temperatures as we will be under the influence of the trough through Thursday or so.

The latest GEFS temperature forecast looks about right – Monday will be WARM ahead of the storm (mid-50s to near 60 across the metro areas), with 30s for highs possibly into Friday, but perhaps not that long should ridging establish itself sooner.

By next weekend we see ridging (warming/drying) establish itself in the west. This will lead to a period of quieter weather, especially in comparison to what we've seen recently.

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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