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Colorado Weekend Weather Forecast | Jun 5–6, 2021

It’s definitely feeling like (meteorological) summer out there! The only open ski resort, Arapahoe Basin, will close for the season on Sunday, though there’s still plenty of snow coverage in the Front Range mountains if you’re seeking loftier objectives.

Ridging has been in place over Colorado (and large parts of the western and northern United States), which has ushered in our warmer and drier weather. The ridge flattens out a bit this weekend, with a disturbance sliding through along the edge of the trough to our northwest.

This disturbance provides lifting energy and also arrives in conjunction with a decent batch of moisture. This will greatly increase the coverage and likelihood of thunderstorms over what we’ve seen this week, which has been generally isolated in nature.

The NAM has an impressive number of cells firing up by noon on both Saturday and Sunday:

Like last weekend, the enhanced moisture and lift means thunderstorm development is earlier and more vigorous than typical for summer, as the atmosphere is more unstable than usual. A few unlucky mountains will have a decently mature storm in place before noon, with lightning crackling as early as 11am.

By 2pm on Saturday, the Euro lightning products show an absolute mess of lightning across the mountains:

Sunday looks to be even trickier as the best energy moves over the early in the morning before moisture advects back out. The Euro suggests, in corroboration with the NAM, some thunderstorm development by 9am-11am in a few key areas of the state: Pikes Peak, the foothills and Palmer Divide, the Sangres, western Colorado (Grand Mesa), and the San Juans (particularly the eastern San Juans). By noon, we once again see most of the mountains at risk of lightning.

Here’s the other tricky part: winds aloft will be incredibly weak, with winds from a few different directions converging over the state on Saturday.

Storm motion will thus be slow and fairly unpredictable, both due to difficulties forecasting the exact location of the convergence in addition to the influence of updrafts and downdrafts of individual cells and their neighbors.

Sunday’s storms will also be slow moving, but there looks be a more widespread northwesterly component to winds aloft, which means storms will generally lumber to the southeast.

With that in mind, you’ll need to worry about what the clouds are doing in your direct vicinity, as any storms that form will likely sit over roughly the same area for a good period of time until they dissipate or finally move away. Storms that have already formed in the distance are not as much of a threat.

Here’s some groupings of 14ers, based on their likelihood of a lightning strike. Both images are of the same table, with one image sorted by Saturday afternoon’s lightning potential, and one sorted by Sunday afternoon’s potential.

You’ll notice that thunderstorm potential drops again on Monday — our pattern for next week looks pretty hot and dry, with a bit of a stationary ridge over the central United States that should be just strong enough to keep more unsettled weather to our west at bay. However, it’s a bit of a close call and we could see a weak disturbance or two graze the western half of the state, which could modestly increase thunderstorm chances in areas like the San Juans.

For now, enjoy summer and the last two weeks before the days start getting shorter.

Forecast by
Thomas Horner (Twitter: @thomaschorner)

Website and app with automated, high-resolution forecasts for mountains, climbing areas, and ski resorts (+ backcountry) with elevation switcher, uncertainty visualization, and more:

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Highpoint Weather Forecasting Team

The Highpoint Weather forecasting team — weather nerds who like to play outside.