10 Day Precip Outlook: Dry start to Fall

The start of Fall stays warm and dry across most of the West with high pressure in control through October 6. Drier than normal areas are shown in the brown colors.

There are two areas to watch for heavier than normal precipitation (green-blue areas). 1) British Columbia, 2) Great Lakes and Northeast. Some of that precip will fall as snow in British Columbia on the higher peaks.

Tomer hand-drawn weather features on GFS interpretation of total precipitation anomalies through October 6, 2021.

The red “L” represents lower pressures, while the blue “H” represents higher pressures. The blue line represents approximate position of the Polar jet stream.

In Colorado, October is an important month. We normally see the first freeze and first measurable snow in a number of the major cities. This indicates a shifting jet stream. Right now it’s just a waiting game.

Loveland Ski Area and Arapahoe Basin will start making snow in October and then race to see who opens first.

Dusting of snow in Colorado

Longs Peak looking good this morning with a new dusting of snow. The actual first measurable snow of the season fell on 8/19/2021.

A dusting also hit the Indian Peaks, higher parts of the Divide, Gore Range, and 10-Mile Range. The view in Grand Lake this morning from friend John Williams:

Another great photo here from Steamboat by Larry Pierce.

Snow can fall any month of the year on Colorado’s 13ers/14ers. We’ll see more frequent cold fronts in October and November – every few days. These fronts will have progressively more wind above treeline. October-January is the windy season in Colorado’s mountains. Wind gusts this morning are reaching 50mph over Berthoud Pass with air temps in the low 20s.

Berthoud Pass wind gusts 9/20/2021

My belief is that October-November will be abnormally warm and dry across Colorado’s mountains. “Real” winter may not arrive until December as La Nina kicks in.

Calendar Fall officially arrives on Wednesday (9/22).

One place I like this winter

La Nina seems likely this winter. This should position the wintertime jet stream across the northern tier of the Rockies from December through March. If you missed my full winter forecast you can find it here.

That said, one place I like this winter is Jackson Hole, WY. You might recall they did well last winter with a similar La Nina pattern in place.

Total snow 2020-2021 in Rendezvous Bowl: 524″

For context, Loveland Ski Area in Colorado’s Central Mountains recorded 287″. Loveland’s seasonal average is 422″.

I have a special place in my heart for Jackson Hole. I’ve skied there, trail run the beautiful trails on the apex of the range, and climbed the Grand and Middle.

Summer 2018.

Fall Color 2021

Peak fall color in Colorado’s mountains is on a “normal schedule”. It should occur the last two weeks of September and first week of October.

Last year, extreme drought forced peak color earlier than normal. Aspen trees were stressed and some leaves dropped early.

Take a look at the photo below from Grand Lake. It was snapped on 9/13/2021 by friend and photographer John Williams, who also has a photography shop on Main Street in Grand Lake.

Here is a rough timeline for peak color.