Two cold fronts are lined up for Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, and Montana.
1st front: Friday-Sunday in Colorado (snow level 10k)
2nd front: Monday-Wednesday in Colorado (snow level 7k)
Full Forecast Video for this analysis:
Pressures drop and the jet stream buckles across the West. This sets the stage for colder temperatures and organized snowfall at ski areas. In addition, gusty wind is likely on higher peaks as the jet stream shaves those higher summits. For example, my forecast wind gusts:
FORECAST WIND GUSTS (MPH)
Snowfall amounts seem more impressive with the 2nd cold front because it’s colder.
I love Fall in Colorado. It’s one of the driest parts of the year, temperatures drop, afternoon t-storms end, and I usually advise anyone attempting FKT’s (fastest known times) to shoot for September or early October before consistent snow and wind take up residence.
Fall color is a gift. It’s a short window of visual change in life cycles. I have moments of reflection about what’s next.
I have numerous friends who do longer trail runs, rides, and climbs. From the Maroon Bell 4-Pass Loop, 14er speed records, Nolans, RMNP link-ups, long ridge runs, and Foothill multi-park 20-milers.
At some point in October the bottom normally falls out. Cold fronts become inevitable, wind on the high peaks becomes consistently strong, and snow levels drop. See you on the summit!
A dip in the jet stream could bring snow to Colorado’s mountains this weekend and next week (10/9-10/15). Amounts this weekend appear on the lighter side, but next week they could be a touch higher.
This more active pattern would also benefit the higher mountains of Wyoming, Utah, Montana, British Columbia, and Alberta. Here’s a specific look at Berthoud Pass in Colorado. Totals are not big but it’s something. This is a normal progression for October.
Snow now covers Capitol Peak and the Elks. Will this end the climbing season for most Summer climbers? The Alaskan phrase for this phenomena is “Termination Dust”.
I suspect the answer comes down to how much risk climbers are willing to shoulder. Other peaks that are less technical like Quandary (“walk-ups”) will continue to be frequented.
I’ve climbed Capitol in all conditions and I find October climbing tricky. There’s not enough snow yet to cover all the rocks so stability is an issue and climbing is mixed.
Will it melt? Some will early (especially southern aspects). Looking at October, I foresee overnight lows on the 14ers permanently below freezing after October 4. And, I’m forecasting about a foot of additional snow on Capitol Peak and the Elks during October.
Light snow dusted the high peaks in Alberta/BC overnight. This includes Mount Athabasca, Mount Andromeda, Mount Rundle, Banff and Lake Louise higher terrain, and Kicking Horse.
Why? A cold front is moving through. How much more snow will fall in Alberta/BC? I’m forecasting another 1-3 inches through Wednesday on the highest peaks.
This front will then dive south through Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado where the higher peaks will get dusted with new snow. Some of the very highest peaks could get 6″ or more. Forecasting for a few more locations:
Snow is falling at Whistler/Blackcomb this morning. This snow will drop into the northern Rockies this week including Banff, Colorado, Idaho, and Montana.
We’re still waiting on the official arrival of La Nina. Current water temps in the South Pacific near the equator are running “neutral” (-0.3C NINO3.4). La Nina and El Nino are normally cyclic in nature, but this will be the second straight winter with La Nina in control.
Why does it matter? La Nina can influence the position of the winter storm track across North America. Said another way, La Nina can stack the odds where the heaviest, most consistent snow will fall this winter. I go into more detail, explain the forces at play, and look at ski area snow odds in my full winter forecast video here.
The latest forecast from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center and International Research Institute indicates a 70-80% chance of La Nina during this winter season.
NOAA released their Fall outlook for temps and precipitation on 9/16. I’m in agreement with most of their assessment with one difference. Temps will be warmer than normal OCT-NOV with precipitation drier than normal, but I think by December we’ll start to see a snowier pattern take hold across the West.
I’ve been a runner for over 20 years. This morning I read a quote by Tiger Woods and I started reflecting.
I’ve had every running injury in the book. It can be brutal and depressing at times. But, on the other hand I know many runners who somehow escape injuries and run for years without issue. I’ve read scientific studies that show it’s actually good for bones and joints. So, what to believe? Like most things, it probably comes down to each individual person.
I love quotes like this because they make you think. There’s wisdom in what Tiger is saying. It also makes you ponder aging and what comes next.
Most teams on Manaslu (8163m/26,781′) will push for the summit next week. This includes my good friend (and client) Ryan Kushner and teammate Jeff Heiderer. Colin Miller was also part of the team but had to leave early for health reasons. Jeff was with Ryan on G2 in 2019.
Ryan shot this stunning video after a round of acclimatization at Camp 3 (~22,000′).
The weather has been abnormally wet/snowy on Manaslu from the start of Ryan’s expedition. I sent a note to the team two weeks prior to their departure saying, “I’m glad you’re not leaving for another two weeks because it’s incredibly wet/snowy over there right now. Looks very Monsoon-esque.”
Well, that pattern continued during the early parts of their trek into basecamp. The pattern is gradually improving now with more “dry” days mixed in. Summit winds remain incredibly light with most days featuring low clouds socking-in the valleys.
Ryan and team are climbing to raise funds for Alpine Rescue Team (ART) in Colorado. ART saved Ryan’s life two years ago after a fall. I’ve worked with ART over the years and seen them in action. They are first-rate professionals. Please consider donating at this link.