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Labor Day Weekend Forecast 2021

Drying, warming, and smokier trend through Labor Day. Thunderstorm potential along the Divide initially and in southern Colorado.

Hello everyone. Here’s a quick look at your Labor Day forecast from Friday to Monday. Right now a weak wave and residual moisture behind the remnants of Nora will keep things cooler and wetter into Friday.

A subtropical high is building over the Intermountain West and centered on the Great Basin. This will advect warmer, drier air into the state, along with a lot of smoke from the wildfires out west.

  • On Friday, most of the state stands to see decent thunderstorm coverage in the afternoon. Storms could be severe to the east of the Divide, include for the Front Range urban corridor. Temperatures will be slightly below average. Friday will feature the clearest air before smoke returns.
  • Western Colorado will warm up pretty quickly after Friday, with above average temperatures by Labor Day. Minimal thunderstorm chances exist after Friday.
  • Southern Colorado is picking up the scraps of a monsoonal moisture surge. The eastern San Juans (e.g. Pagosa Springs, Wolf Creek) look to have isolated storm chances through Labor Day. The Sangres will have isolated to scattered thunderstorm chances through Labor Day with better coverage further south into New Mexico.
  • Areas near the Divide will also see isolated thunderstorm chances into Labor Day, at least south of I-70. On Saturday, these isolated chances extend up into Rocky Mountain National Park. Areas west of the Divide will experience a warming trend to slightly above average temperatures by Labor Day.
  • On Friday night / Saturday morning, a weak cold front will push down the Front Range. Saturday’s high temperatures will be in the 70s / low 80s for much of the urban corridor. These temperatures will rebound quickly by Labor Day.

Smoke increases through next week, but with the pattern that is setting up, there is a large amount of uncertainty in this forecast. The new smoke model run looks much better than yesterday’s. That’s hopeful but we’re not sure if that will really hold, as there is still a decent amount of uncertainty unfolding in the weather models that we were hoping would be better resolved right now. Colorado happens to be in a spot where small changes in some of these mid-atmospheric features will make a large difference in how much surface level smoke we end up seeing.

Colorado is stuck between the jet right entrance region to our north / east and a developing center of high pressure to our west. Right now, the relationship between those two features is enough where small changes in the jet placement / speed and center / strength of high pressure means surface-level smoke will favor either Utah or Colorado. Wyoming is definitely pretty screwed regardless, along with all the areas that have fires e.g. CA, NV, ID.

Looking at the latest weather model data we think this smoke model, if it were run now, would have some of the heavier smoke shifted back into Colorado, but since the models still don’t have the placement or strength of the high pressure system figured out, we’re still kind of speculating here. Unfortunately this model wont run again until tomorrow morning.

Regardless, the weather has improved over many of the strong wildfires to our west, and fires are not exhibiting as extreme behavior. So regardless of whether we get a direct impact or not, we’ll likely be dealing with a bit less smoke in general. Still, plan for increasing smoke by Saturday, and the potential for heavy smoke on Sunday and particularly Monday, especially in western and northern Colorado. Hopefully we should have enough certainty tomorrow to have a much better idea!

Here’s a look at thunderstorm coverage:

Friday
Saturday
Sunday
Monday

Finally, the snow level will get down to about 13,000ft. every night, so if some mountain ranges manage to see overnight precipitation, there may be a very light dusting at the highest of elevations.

Authors

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Weather forecasts and articles for the recreating in the Colorado high country — mountains, ski resorts, and crags.

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Highpoint Weather Forecasting Team

Highpoint Weather Forecasting Team

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

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