A weekend storm forecast to move into Southwest Colorado on Saturday afternoon is expected to bring a mix of rain and snow that could leave between 1 to 3 inches of snow in Durango and Cortez and up to a foot in the San Juan Mountains.
The storm is expected to leave the region by late morning or early afternoon Sunday, but it will be followed by another storm that may affect the northern San Juan Mountains on Monday. The storm Monday is not expected to be felt in the southern San Juans or the valleys in Southwest Colorado, said Matt Aleska, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction.
“The storm coming in Saturday will be coming off the Southern California coast, and it will have warmer temperatures and pretty good moisture associated with it. The Saturday afternoon highs in Durango and Cortez will be in the mid- or high-50s, so it should start as rain at lower elevations,” Aleska said.
The peak of the rain or snowfall is expected late Saturday afternoon into the evening, Aleska said.
After midnight Saturday, a cold front associated with the system will move into Southwest Colorado, and whatever is left of the precipitation from the storm is expected to fall as snow in Durango, Cortez and other lower-elevation valleys in Southwest Colorado.
Another storm that will favor the north-central mountains of Colorado is expected to move into the state Monday, but Aleska said it is expected to affect only the northern San Juans in Southwest Colorado.
“On Monday, the storm will be coming from the Pacific Northwest, and that tends to favor the northern and central mountains. Ouray and Red Mountain might be the most affected in the San Juans,” he said.
If the system does move farther south than expected, Aleska said Durango and Cortez are more likely to see rain than snow Monday, with Sunday’s high temperatures in the mid-40s.
On Thursday, Purgatory Resort reported a base depth of 46 inches with seven of 12 lifts open. Telluride Ski Area reported a 47-inch base with all 17 lifts open. Wolf Creek Ski Area reported a 69-inch base with all nine of its lifts open.
The Colorado Avalanche Information Center listed the risk of avalanches in the San Juan Mountains as low on Thursday.
Colorado Snotel listed the snowpack in Southwest Colorado on Thursday at 95% of the 30-year average, the first time snowpack has been below the 30-year average this winter in the Animas, Dolores, San Miguel and San Juan river basins.