Small storms Friday and mid-weekend followed by large early week storm

Thursday, January 19, 2017

A weakening Pacific storm will move over the Steamboat Springs area in pieces tonight and Friday. Snow showers should begin around mid-evening and persist overnight and most of tomorrow. I would expect 1-3” on the Friday morning report, and even though showers should intensify in the morning as the flow briefly veers to the northwest, I would expect only another 1-3” during the day which will be reported on the Saturday morning report.

A stronger and colder second storm crosses the West Coast on Friday and splits, with the southern piece traveling southeastward through the Great Basin on Saturday. There may be a break in precipitation over our area from Friday night through Saturday morning, and even though the bulk of this storm will stay to our west and southwest,  snow showers are likely from Saturday through Sunday afternoons. I think we will do a little better from this second storm as the temperatures are cooler and the northwest flow behind the front is stronger, and I expect 2-4” for the Sunday morning report and another 1-3” during the day.

Meanwhile another strong wave in the energetic Pacific jet stream phases with the remaining northern piece of the second storm in the Gulf of Alaska and forms the strongest storm of the three. The storm will begin affecting the West Coast later Saturday before it crosses the coast overnight and brings snow showers to the Continental Divide as early as Sunday night.

Breezy to windy southwest flow will increase by Monday morning as temperatures begin to cool, and moderate to heavy showers are expected during the day Monday. Snow amounts are always difficult to forecast under these conditions as the heaviest snowfall often occurs in bands, but significant accumulations are possible in this warm sector of the storm.

By Monday evening, more Pacific Northwest energy drops into the back of the storm and causes it to split, with the northern part of the split forming a closed circulation over southern Wyoming and the southern portion traveling south towards Baja.

A strong cold front associated with this closed circulation will move over the Steamboat Springs area later Monday, veering mountain-top winds to our favorable northwest direction and bringing a period moderate to heavy snows that will last overnight and through the first part of Tuesday before decreasing in intensity by late in the day. I would expect significant accumulations by the Tuesday morning report, with amounts dependent upon the evolution of the closed circulation.

Though snows will decrease, snow showers will likely not end until late in the work week as the Baja part of this storm loiters to our southwest and encourages additional waves of cold and moist air to move southward from the Northwest and western Canada. As a result, I would expect new snow to be reported Wednesday and Thursday mornings as well.

It does look like this cold and snowy week will be followed by a building West Coast ridge which should bring warmer and drier weather heading into the following weekend.

 

The sun returns ahead of the next series of three storms

Monday, January 16, 2017

The pesky upper low responsible for the valley clouds these past two days has split, with the northern piece of the spit traveling east of the Steamboat Springs area tonight.  While the southern piece will remain south of our area as it affects the southern third of the country over the coming work week, the sun will finally make an appearance over the Yampa Valley for the next several days.

A wave in the very strong Pacific jet stream will cross the West Coast around Wednesday night and spread clouds over our area later Thursday. This wave will weaken as it crosses the Great Basin, bringing only light snow showers to Mt. Werner on Friday and Friday night.

A stronger storm approaches the Pacific Northwest coast on Friday and splits, with the southern piece traveling southeastward through the Great Basin on Saturday. At this time, models have the bulk of this second storm staying to our west and southwest, and light snow showers are expected from Saturday through Sunday afternoons.

Meanwhile another strong wave in the energetic Pacific jet stream phases with the remaining northern piece of the second storm in the Gulf of Alaska and forms the strongest storm of the three. The storm will begin affecting the West Coast on Sunday before it crosses the coast later that day and first brings mid and high level clouds to our area on Monday and snow showers starting around Monday evening.

While this last storm will likely last the longest and bring the most accumulating snows, the details will have to wait until there is better model agreement - hopefully by next Thursday or Friday in time for my next forecast.

Snow totals for Thursday decrease with snow showers continuing until Saturday morning

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Another wave in the Pineapple Express phases with cool air traveling southward from western Canada and moves over the Steamboat Springs area this afternoon.  Some dry air has unexpectedly worked in behind a weak wave last night, delaying the moderate to heavy snow showers until cooler temperatures arrive later today. Furthermore, the cooler air won’t be as cool as earlier forecast, further decreasing the originally forecast snowfall for overnight. The end result is I now expect a much lower 4-8” on the Thursday morning report.

Meanwhile, a splitting weather system crosses the West Coast on Thursday. Most of the energy forms a closed low that waffles off the coast of southern California through Saturday, with southwesterly flow ahead of the storm warming our temperatures during the day Thursday. Waves of energy in the northern part of the split will periodically enhance snowfall  through Saturday morning as they pass near our area.

Right now, models indicate the best snow to occur from Thursday afternoon through Friday morning. Snow total will be dependent on the evolution of this closed low and the poorly resolved waves in the northern portion of the split, but another 4-8” of dense snow is possible by Friday morning. Snows should taper off during Friday before ending by Saturday morning, leaving another 1-4” of snow for the Saturday morning report.

While dry air lurks to our north through the weekend, the closed low off the southern California is forecast to slowly move northeast across the southern Great Basin on Sunday and Monday, keeping at least clouds over the area. Keeping in mind these closed lows are notoriously difficult to predict due to nebulous upper air forcing, dry air is expected to finally reach northern Colorado around Tuesday.

There are model differences with the next storm as the persistent Bering Sea ridge migrates to East Asia and allows cold air from Siberia to pour into the Pacific and energize the jet stream. But models generally have another surge of Pacific moisture moving over our area by later Wednesday or Thursday that brings precipitation back to our region.

A foot or more likely by Tuesday and again by Thursday morning

Monday, January 9, 2017

Pieces of a massive Gulf of Alaska storm will move over the Steamboat Springs area over the work week, phasing with some cool air rotating down from western Canada tonight and Wednesday night leading to impressive snowfall accumulations of of over two to three feet in generally windy westerly flow.

As of noon on Monday, mountain-top temperatures have begun to cool as an ill-defined cool front moves through from the west. This should turn any rain or rain/snow mix in the Yampa Valley to all snow this evening, with moderate to heavy snows occurring overnight in the valley and on the hill. There may be 8 to 16 inches of snow on the Tuesday morning report, with the snow becoming less dense and fluffier toward the morning.

Snows will decrease but not end during the day Tuesday under warming temperatures, leaving another 4-8” on the Wednesday morning report as temperatures cool a bit overnight.

Another strong wave in the Pineapple Express passes through on Wednesday and Thursday and again phases with cool air moving southward from western Canada around Wednesday afternoon or evening. The air is colder than on Tuesday, and this is forecast to bring more wind and moderate to heavy snows on the hill and down to the valley floor, leaving another 10 to 20 inches the Thursday morning report.

The European ECMWF was the winner from the last forecast, bringing a splitting system into the West Coast near the end of the work week. This system has moved north from the previous forecast, and we are on the northern edge of precipitation from this warm system later Thursday, Friday and into Saturday morning.

Dry air is forecast to overtake the area later Saturday, marking an end to this impressive storm cycle. A wave moving westward across the Gulf of Alaska early in the weekend will bring some cooler air and at least clouds for Sunday. Some brief clearing is forecast for early Monday before snow showers are again in the forecast for later in the day or overnight, followed by a mostly precipitation-free work week as a flat ridge moves over the West.

Another week of snow and wind follows warming temperatures after cold start to weekend

Friday, January 6, 2017

Behind the last storm and ahead of the next one, tonight will see very cold nighttime temperatures followed by a cold and sunny Saturday morning, with possible clouds later in the day.

Yet again, a strong Gulf of Alaska storm forms over the weekend. Strong southwesterly flow ahead of the storm forms the so-called Pineapple Express as it reaches back to the old Hawaii system left over from several storms ago and moves the remains eastward over a broad ridge that forms over the western U.S ahead of the storm.

Though we will see snows on hill Saturday night and Sunday, and precipitation will start out as snow in the valley, the much warmer temperatures under the ridge as well as the copious incoming moisture may lead to a rain event in the Yampa Valley from Sunday night through Monday afternoon or night.

On the mountain, there may be an inch or two on the Sunday morning report, with another 2-4” during the day and again overnight leading to a 4-8” Monday morning report.

Temperatures look to cool by later Monday or early Tuesday as a cool front passes through, changing the rain to snow in the valley and turning on the snow-machine in cooler and still windy, wet northwest flow. Accumulations could easily be in the 8-16” range or more by Tuesday morning depending upon timing of the cool front.

At this point, snows are forecast to taper off later Tuesday before another strong wave in the Pineapple Express passes through on Wednesday and Thursday and partially phases with cool air moving southward from western Canada. This is forecast to bring more wind and moderate to heavy snows down to the valley floor and again, significant snowfall totals are expected by Thursday afternoon.

There is model disagreement for the end of the work week, with the European ECMWF bringing a splitting system into the West Coast that stays mostly south of us, while the American GFS keeps that system consolidated as it moves it over our area, beginning snows again by Friday.

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