Feb. 14th Mountain Weather Forecast

The Weekend Weather Forecast for the High Country of Rocky Mountain National Park
The Tyndall Gorge blanketed in white after a winter storm.

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

Rocky Mountain National Park Weather Forecast

Researched and written by professional meteorologist and avid mountaineer, Dan The Weather Man Gottas.

Week in Review

From a snowfall perspective, last weekend's storms were a dud for RMNP. Only a couple of tenths of an inch of snow water equivalent (SWE) fell east of the Divide across the Park, while up to an inch of SWE was recorded and observed to the south near James Peak and to the north near Cameron Pass.

The sporadic distribution of new snow was largely attributed to a spatially variable convective response during the first frontal passage on 2/9. The third system of the week is just getting under way on 2/13.

New snowfall with this system will be forced by the terrain and jet-stream dynamics, as moist and stable northwesterly flow increases across the region. This type of pattern typically has a much higher probability for producing widespread snows near and west of the Divide across the northern mountains of CO.

The recent stratospheric warming event has started to wane, but continues to force large meridional undulations in the storm track across the northern hemisphere, including the large ridge over the eastern Pacific Ocean.

A moderate tropical convective signal (MJO) moving across Africa has likely contributed to the recent westward shift in the Pacific ridge position, which has allowed shorter-wavelength storm energy to once again track across CO along the eastern flank of the ridge.


RMNP is on track for a much needed dose of snow over the next week.  Up to a foot or more of new white is expected from this big burst of moisture currently hitting the west coast.




Three storm systems are forecast to track across RMNP from the northwest over the next 7 days (2/13-20). Forecast model predictions indicate upwards of 0.75-1.0" of accumulated SWE during the period.

However, the first two systems on 2/14 and 2/18 will produce orographically enhanced snows, which historically have been more reliable snowfall producers for the Park and have often exceeded forecast amounts. The third system on 2/20 is currently forecast to track farther south, which makes it more of a precip wildcard for the Park.

With winds from the northwest through 2/18, new wind slab formation is probable on lee and cross-loaded terrain features. The new snow will fall at relatively colder temperatures in the teens F near 10k, so bonding to the older snow surface may not be as strong as it was during the recent warmer snow events. Winds will become southwesterly ahead of the third system on 2/19-20.



The Dragon's Apron, a popular backcountry spot in RMNP with the common avalanche paths in Red and the preferred up track to avoid this common danger.  The DT slid a week ago after a foot of new snow sloughed D2 all the way to Emerald Lake.

Detailed 7-Day Forecast

NWS Forecast for the 12,000 foot level near Longs Peak

The link above will take you to the National Weather Service forecast for the 12,000 foot level near Longs Peak. These forecasts are derived from computer-generated numerical forecasts, and are updated shortly after 3:30 am, 9:30 am, 3:30 pm, and 9:30 pm local time. In the lower right-hand corner of the page, one can view forecasts for other locations in the Park by clicking on the desired location in the terrain map.



Do-It-Yourself Weather Forecast Links

Weather Observations and Forecasts

The link above provides a list of web links to various sites containing a variety of meteorological data and information. Collectively, these resources can be used to monitor and study current weather conditions, as well short-term, medium-range, and climate forecasts.


© ClimbingLife LLC, 2013  All Rights Reserved.


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