Despite above average temperatures, snow will make its way to Summit this week
Chances of a Monday storm slipped through the cracks this week, but light snow is expected Tuesday night into Wednesday with a bigger storm towards the end of the week, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Russell Danielson.
Danielson explained that the weather in Summit County will be dry through most of Tuesday, but there’s a 50% chance of snow beginning late Tuesday night into Wednesday. The county will enter a colder, snowier pattern during the second half of the week with storms expected Wednesday through Saturday, Danielson said.
A small weather system is expected to bring snow Wednesday, with the best chance of snow Wednesday afternoon. There’s a 70% to 80% chance of snow Thursday afternoon, and there’s a 50% chance of snow Friday night into Saturday. Danielson said it was too early to predict snow totals, but the storm cycles Friday night and Saturday could be more significant, while snow on Wednesday, Thursday and early Friday could be lighter.
“We’re starting to get into the time of year where the sun helps things out, so the afternoon will actually have some of the best chances for snow,” Danielson said. “The sun will warm things up at the surface and create instability. Essentially, warm air rises and cool air sinks, and if you start to warm the surface, that warm air will rise and create snow showers due to the sun warming the surface there.”
Temperatures since last Wednesday have overall been higher than average for March, according to the National Weather Service almanac. Normal temperatures — measured using long-term averages for a certain date — recorded in March at the Dillon weather station are around 37 degrees. Temperatures reached 40 degrees last Tuesday and rose to 47 Saturday. So far, four of six recorded days in March have reached above normal temperatures.
The Dillon station, which sits near Dillon Reservoir, was established in 1910. While recent temperatures were above normal in March, they didn’t break any records. According to the almanac, the highest temperature ever recorded at the Dillon station for March 7 was 62 degrees in 1987. The highest recorded temperature for March 6 was 57 degrees, which was also recorded in 1987.
Heading into this week temperatures are expected to continue to be above normal. The National Weather Service forecasts high temperatures in Frisco on Monday and Tuesday to be 49 degrees. As snow makes its way in, high temperatures will drop to 36 Wednesday and 35 Thursday.
The normal temperature in February is 33.8 degrees, and normal snowfall is 15.7 inches, according to the almanac. Nine days in February were above normal temperatures, and new snow reached a total of 12.5 inches. Due to warmer temperatures the Colorado Avalanche Information Center listed wet avalanches, which typically occur during prolonged warming events, as the primary hazard to contend with. However, avalanche danger has lowered since February. The center’s backcountry avalanche forecast for Monday rates the danger as moderate near and above treeline and low below treeline.
Heading into spring, Danielson said that the county is in the 80th to 90th percentile of normal for snowpack for the South Platte and Upper Colorado river basins.
“We have kind of inched toward normal throughout February,” Danielson said. “This dry stretch isn’t helping. … (The snowpack) is still a little bit below normal, but hopefully the pattern later this week will help out.“
Despite below normal snowfall and a few warmer days, the state of the drought in Summit County improved during the month of February, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Drought designations went down from “exceptional” to “extreme” in the north of the county, and from “extreme“ to “severe” in the south by Feb. 16.
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