First a look back at the storm that passed on 20-21 February. Of all the storm reports around Colorado, the GMNC trails got the most snow at 20-24 inches. The closest other 24 hour reports were 16 inches at Powderhorn and Irwin Lodge west of Crested Butte. Though this has closed Highway 65 on Friday, February 22 for avalanche control, this is great news for us as skiers, irrigators, and water drinkers. On February 22, Mesa Lakes was at 81% of normal snowpack with the Upper Colorado River Basin as a whole at 70% of normal. That means drought is still a threat for Western Colorado this warm season.
Stormy wintry weather continues this weekend into early next week adding to the snowpack somewhat. In northwest flow aloft, another storm digs through the Great Basin on Saturday passing on Sunday. This storm packs a cold air and dynamical punch but is generally lacking in moisture. Southwest winds will be strong on Saturday with clouds and snow increasing through the afternoon in a classic overrunning scenario. With afternoon temperatures around 20F and wind gusts of 25-30 mph in the open areas, the wind chill will feel more like 5-10F. Blowing and drifting snow will make a mess of open tracks. The associated cold front passes in the afternoon with snow heavy at times. The winds will shift dramatically to northeast overnight and low temperatures will drop below zero. Snow continues into Sunday with locally heavy showers in an unstable atmosphere. Afternoon highs only near zeroF with north winds at 10-20 mph will make for bitter cold conditions. Best guess for snow accumulations is another 8-12 inches by Sunday afternoon. Given the right clothing, flexible expectations, and cold wax on classic skis, these cold wintry weekends can be a lot of fun.
The GMNC trails get a break in the weather on Sunday night through Monday night as a ridge of high pressure passes. Still Monday will see north winds in the morning shifting to southwest and increasing. Low temperatures will be below zeroF with afternoon highs only in the teens.
Two more Northwest Pacific storms will pass on Tuesday and Thursday. Both of these are forecast to produce only a few inches of snowfall. But cold air and breezy winds remain in place. Afternoon highs will struggle into the teens.
The pattern finally breaks on Friday as a ridge of high pressure amplifies over the Great Basin. Just in time for the annual Barnelopet on Saturday March 2nd, the afternoon temperatures will climb up to near freezing with mostly sunny skies. This sunny and mild weather will continue into Sunday March 3rd making next weekend The Pick Days of the forecast.