Forecast Discussion:

Chilly air was in place for a day, post-cold front on Thursday. Our cold front is being pushed across the Midwest U.S. by the upper air trough (the lower red line in Figure 1). The signs of things to come are visible as the blue line ridge off the West Coast (we are very familiar with that ridge this year).

That upper trough (the higher red line) will kick off mountain snow today and lower elevation winds as it races through today.  Figure 2 shows those, mostly western slopes and higher mountain, snows.  Figure 3 shows the strong winds up and down the Front Range for today.

Figure 1: The upper air 500mb forecast map for Friday morning (today) from the GFS.
Figure 2: The forecast surface analysis map for Friday midday from NCEP.
Figure 3: The GFS forecast surface pressure and winds for midday Friday. Longmont is the pink dot in all these maps.

The longer range forecast:

On Sunday, the western ridge is closer (Figure 4) and another northern trough is coming down to give us a brief chance of rain/snow on Monday. Figure 5 is the upper air pattern for Monday and that trough is sweeping by already.  As with most of the storms this winter… I don’t expect much from it due to lack of moisture and quick passage. But we’ll keep an eye on it here!

Figure 4: The upper air 500mb forecast map for Sunday morning from the GFS.
Figure 5: The upper air 500mb forecast map for Monday morning from the GFS.
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John Ensworth works from Longmont as the Principle Investigator for the NASA Science Mission Directorate Earth and space science education product review through the IGES (The Institute for Global Environmental Strategies – www.strategies.org) . He is in his 14th year running this review. He is an astronomer (from the 2nd grade onward) and became a meteorologist (in the 5th grade) when a thunderstorm in Arizona rained on his telescope when the weather service had only forecasted a 10% chance of rain. He has college degrees in physics and astronomy and climatology and a graduate degree in meteorology and earth science. He lectures at the Little Thompson Observatory in Berthoud, the Estes Park Memorial Observatory in Estes Park, and for a number of online universities. He built and runs a backyard observatory near Pace and 17th in northeast Longmont where he has lived for 8 years with his wife, daughter, son, and two cats. Invitations to open house nights at this observatory, LTO, and EPMO will be posted with future discussions when they are scheduled. Forecasting severe weather and snow amounts via text lead to this column. He began texting friends about the weather right after the September 2013 flood. The readers of this column will, hopefully, keep him honest in what he ‘thought’ he had forecasted for ‘the most recent’ storm.