This story was last updated Friday. Tap here for the latest on this storm.
We’re heading into the weekend and while we have answered many of our questions regarding the incoming storm over the last couple of days, we do still have some unknowns about the storm. We’ve been working really hard to try and give you the information you need to help plan while being honest with you about the challenges that exist with spring-like storms moving across the Rockies and onto the high plains. I’ve personally enjoyed bringing you into the forecast process and I hope you’ve found that insightful or interesting.
We’re still expecting the heart of the storm to reveal itself over eastern Colorado late Saturday night and early Sunday. It’s looking more and more likely that the storm will actually end up around the long-term climatological average of where these storms go….right along the Arkansas River. Use the comparison tool below to see for yourself.
Snow will move into the mountains tonight and mountain passes will be snow packed by Saturday morning. Keep that in mind if you’re traveling up to the ski resorts. Snow will be heavy at times into Saturday afternoon over the high country, so just keep that in mind. You may have a very slow and challenging drive trying to get home. Most ski resorts will get around or a more than a foot of snow before the storm is done.
Things get more complicated over the transition from the mountains to the plains in southern Colorado.
The most challenging forecast of the weekend is how much snow will fall in the Pikes Peak region. As you know terrain varies greatly in the heart of the viewing area. Pikes Peak is 12 miles west of Colorado Springs and there is about an 8,000′ drop over those 12 miles. Some of the snow falling on Saturday, especially across lower parts of the Pikes Peak region may be melting on contact for the first part of the storm. This impact will be less the higher you go, but it makes for a challenging forecast for sure! Some of Saturday will be spent above freezing in Colorado Springs (yes, it often snows when the air is above freezing!) so you can see the challenge we face in figuring amounts out.
In general the higher and more north you are, the more you’ll end up with across El Paso and Teller counties. The lower and farther south you are, the less you’ll get. We incorporate a number of variabilities and unknowns into what we do behind the scenes when we’re making the forecast. We look at probabilities, or how likely different amounts of snow are at different areas as we figure out the most likely outcome – which is what we present to you on television and online as our “official” forecast. Here is an example of a few different areas with this weekend’s storm.
In addition to how much, we’ve got to try and figure out the characteristics of the snow as we work on the impacts we’ll see. The biggest question I still have as of Friday morning is does the snow in the Pikes Peak region stay wet and heavy through the whole storm? If it does, it won’t blow around or drift as much once it hits the ground. If it can end up a bit fluffy for part of the storm we’ll have more in the way of blowing and drifting. This is important in determining if we get a blizzard or not on Sunday.
That unknown, combined with the peak wind gusts looking more like 45-50 mph instead of 55-60 mph on Sunday makes our blizzard threat look a little lower this morning.