Western and Central U.S. Long Range Weather Forecast – March 12, 2018

For the upcoming week, a wet and snowy pattern will develop over California with moisture gradually pushing inland toward the Rockies over the second half of the week.  For the longer term pattern, the pattern is expected to favor western/southwestern areas such as California, Nevada, Utah, and Arizona for above normal precipitation, while the Pacific Northwest and high plains east of the Continental Divide will be favored for below normal precipitation.


Week 1 Outlook:  March 12-18

A ridge of high pressure located over the Rocky Mountains is resulting in a dry start to the week across the Intermountain West.  However, a deepening trough of low pressure along the Pacific Coast will pushing into California, resulting in significant precipitation and heavy snowfall for the Sierra Nevada Mountains and Lake Tahoe on Tuesday and Wednesday.  On Wednesday and Thursday, we’ll see mountain snow and valley rain move into Utah, Wyoming, and Western Colorado as the low pressure system pushes inland.  The Central Rockies could see respectable snowfall amounts during this time.  

Toward the end of the week, another strong system will bring more significant precipitation and heavy snowfall to California.  As this system moves toward the Rockies it will gradually weaken with lesser amounts of precipitation expected across the mountains of Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado.  Areas east of the Continental Divide, including Denver, look to be on the drier and warmer side of the pattern this week with most of the precipitation staying west of the Continental Divide.  It’s possible that Eastern Colorado could see some rain or snow showers Sunday depending on the track of the second system.



Week 2 Outlook:  March 19-25

Next week, the pattern looks to remain fairly similar with frequent storm systems bringing more precipitation to California, including snow the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  The pattern should remain relatively active across the Rockies as well, and most of the Western U.S. is projected to see colder than average temperatures.  For areas east of the Continental Divide, including Denver, the pattern looks to be cooler and more unsettled next week, but there are no signs of any significant precipitation with areas west of the Continental Divide continuing to be favored for moisture.  The outlook for the Mile High City is not great in terms of moisture, but it’s possible that a system with the right trajectory could finally bring some snow to Denver during this time period – a better chance next week compared to any other week this month anyways.


Extended Outlook:  Late March – Early April

The longer range  pattern looks to favor the far western U.S., especially California, for above average precipitation and cooler than average temperatures, while areas east of the Continental Divide and across the Great Plains will be favored for below average precipitation.  This type of pattern would result in minor/temporary improvements in drought conditions across California, Nevada, and Utah, while Colorado would experience worsening drought conditions.

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