Two systems are expected to bring snow to Southwest Colorado in succession, with the first storm expected to move in today in the late afternoon or evening and a second stronger storm cell expected to come up from the south Monday evening and extend into Tuesday.
The first storm, which is expected to extend into early Monday, will favor the eastern San Juans, with Wolf Creek Pass possibly seeing a foot of snow and Pagosa Springs receiving 1 to 2 inches, said Erin Walter, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction.
“There will be a drastic change in snow totals with elevation,” she said.
The San Juan Mountains are likely to see 8 to 10 inches of snow with higher amounts up to 1 foot in favored locations like Wolf Creek Pass, Erin said.
The first storm, which should be out of the area by late Monday morning, is not expected to drastically impact lower elevations west of Pagosa Springs. Walter said. Durango and Cortez might see a trace of snow Sunday night and Monday morning.
However, Durango and Cortez have a better shot of seeing snow from the second system expected to move up from the southwest over the Four Corners Monday night and extending into Tuesday.
Walter said prediction models conflict on the second storm, but it might bring 1 to 2 inches of snow to lower elevations on the U.S. Highway 160 corridor including Durango and Cortez.
Snowfall estimates for the second storm over the Four Corners have not been made because prediction models conflict about this storm cell’s behavior.
The first storm is moving in from the Pacific Northwest, similar to other storms this winter that have produced relatively modest accumulations of snow, especially at lower elevations in the Four Corners.
However, the second cell, which should move in Monday evening, is coming up from the southwest, and Walter said it holds the potential for more precipitation.
After Tuesday, Walter said the forecast expects clearing skies until Feb. 15, when a weekend storm might visit the Four Corners.
The National Weather Service has issued a winter weather advisory from 5 p.m. Sunday through 8 a.m. Monday for eastern San Juan Mountains above 10,000 feet, where 4 to 12 inches of snow are expected to fall.
The Weather Service expected travel to be difficult with patchy blowing snow that could significantly reduce visibility
Also, the weather service has issued a hazardous weather outlook for most of the Western Slope, including the eastern San Juans for Sunday through Monday morning then again Monday through Saturday, with lingering snow possible in higher elevations from the second system moving in from the southwest.
As of Sunday Colorado SNOTEL lists the snowpack in the Animas, Dolores, San Juan and San Miguel river basins at 105% of the 30-year average.
On Sunday, Purgatory Resort reported a 50-inch base depth with eight of 12 lifts in operation. Telluride Ski Area reported a 50-inch base with all 17 lifts in operation. Wolf Creek Ski Area reported a midway base depth of 69 inches with all nine lifts in operation.
Also on Sunday, the Colorado Avalanche Information Center listed the avalanche danger in the northern San Juans as considerable and in the southern San Juans as moderate.