Welcome to my Pikes Peak Weather and Forecast page. Due to its fame and easy access, Pikes Peak is the most visited 14'er on the planet. Besides the spectacular Cog Railway and Pikes Peak Highway, many thousands of people hike or run up the mountain each year. This page contains information about Pikes Peak weather and climate, links to the most applicable official National Weather Service forecasts, and my experimental mountain sounder product. I hope you find this page useful. If you have any questions or comments, please contact me.
*** Disclaimer Statement *** By using this web page, you agree that you have read the disclaimer and assume all risk for your actions.
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Despite the fact that Pikes Peak has a summit house and road access all the way to the summit, it is still a dangerous mountain. Extreme weather conditions can cause hypothermia even in the summer time and several persons have been killed by lightning on the mountain. The best way to stay safe on Pikes Peak is to be knowledgeable about the weather, route, and do not exceed your abilities.
The summit of Pikes Peak reaches an elevation of 14,115 feet, rising 9000 feet above the plains to the east, and 5000 feet above the high mountain valleys to the west. Since Pikes Peak pokes up so high into the free atmosphere, it often experiences weather conditions that are drastically different from those of the lower surrounding areas. The mountain can create its own weather, causing localized thunderstorms, heavy snow storms, or severe downslope windstorms that reach out onto the Plains or remain just at mountaintop level. However you look at it, Pikes Peak can be home to some of the most extreme weather in Colorado. However, the weather can also be quite benign at other times, and even pleasant for outdoor activities.
In the summer, the summit offers a welcome respite from the heat of the Plains. On the hottest days, when temperatures on the Plains are pushing 100 degrees, the high on Pikes can approach the low 60's. Summer thunderstorms often erupt by noon or early afternoon bringing dangerous lightning, hail, rain, and even snow.
In winter, severe winds and extreme temperatures are often experienced. Several other Front Range 14'ers have recorded winds gusts of close to 200 mph, and Pikes Peak likely has similar winds at times.
The U.S. Army Signal Corps maintained a weather station on the summit of Pikes Peak sporadically from 1873 - 1888 (picture). Phyllis Smith wrote a book (1993) about the station and the intrepid men who manned it, entitled: Weather Pioneers: The Signal Corps Station at Pikes Peak.
Pikes Peak Summit Weather Station The Cog Railway is now maintaining a weather station on the summit.
About zone forecasts. Weather varies from place to place, often changing dramatically from one side of a mountain to the other. Colorado is split into three National Weather Service (NWS) county warning areas, each of which has a local forecast office. The local office for Southeast Colorado is in Pueblo. Each county warning area is further split into zones, which are local areas that tend to share similar weather. There are several zones that are relevant for the Pikes Peak region. Zone 85 includes Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs and thus is a good zone to look at for the weather near the Barr trailhead. Zone 81 includes the region surrounding Pikes Peak up to about timberline. Zone 82 is a small zone specifically for Pikes Peak above 11,000 feet and will be most applicable for those going to the summit.
About the experimental gridpoint forecasts. Recent advances in computer and web display technology have made it possible to give forecasts valid for specific localized areas like mountain ridge tops, specific valleys, etc. This is made possible because the NWS forecast data is now entered into a high resolution nation-wide grid. The forecasts below are for a gridpoint very near to the summit of Pikes Peak. They are valid for an elevation of 13,747 feet. Although this information is very specific, remember that it is still subject to uncertainty.
About the experimental graphical forecasts. The forecast for the entire region including expected snowfall, minimum and maximum temperatures, wind, and other elements can be easily seen from the graphical grid forecasts. This is very useful for seeing fronts and other changes coming in, and will help in determining how the weather could change during your expedition.
To find out what the forecasters were thinking when they made the forecast, read the Area Forecast Discussion (AFD). These are technical discussions on the factors that forecasters feel are important for the current forecast cycle.
There are currently no weather stations on Pikes Peak, but there have been in the past. I'll add more information about this when time allows.
Want even more information? Numerous models and upper air data are available at the UCAR-RAP Weather Pages.
Hikers and climbers from the Plains often wonder what conditions are like on the mountain compared to the weather down on the Plains. I have created a new product to show how the temperatures and winds vary with height near Colorado's Front Range. This product is derived from the twice-daily rawinsonde taken from Denver International Airport. A rawinsonde (short for radio wind sonde) is a helium or hydrogen balloon that is launched to carry weather instruments up through the lower part of the Earth's atmosphere. As these rawinsondes ascend, sometimes as high as 100,000 feet, they collect temperature, wind, humidity, and pressure data and radio it back to the launch site. Several hundred of these rawinsondes are launched twice daily around the world to gather crucial data that are used to initialize the numerical weather prediction models.
I have written a program which takes the resulting temperature and wind information and plots it in an easy-to-read format for the elevations of interest to Colorado's Front Range. The user should note that this is NOT a forecast -- this is an observation taken through a vertical profile through the atmosphere generally within 25 miles of Denver International Airport. On most days, the temperatures and winds measured out over the Plains should be similar to the values on Pikes Peak at the time of the observation. Significant differences may occur when strong storm systems are moving through the region or when downslope windstorms are occurring. Actual data values from the sounding are plotted as closed black circles. Open squares indicate values of the variable that have been interpolated to altitudes of interest on the mountain. Note that no attempt has been made to correct for differences in the horizontal direction, correct for local solar heating or nighttime radiational cooling. Furthermore, no local scaling of the winds has been attempted. As I collect more data, I may try to correct for these factors in the future to try to derive values that are more accurate for the mountain itself.
Most Recent Pikes Peak Sounding Loop over the past 5 days Archive
This product is scheduled to update an hour and a half after the sounding synoptic time (00Z, 12Z, and when severe weather threatens the region, 18Z). When Denver is on Daylight Savings Time, the web product will update at 7:30 PM, 7:30 AM, and occasionally 1:30 PM MDT.
Note: Your use of this product signifies that you have read the Disclaimer Statement and that you assume all risk for your actions.
Cog Railway Web Cam
Pikes Peak Summit Panoramic Cameras
Pikes Peak Cam (view from east)
Comments or questions? Please contact me.
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