Heavy snows likely Monday and Tuesday

Saturday, February 28, 2015

This complicated storm is largely evolving as forecast, though the kicker-wave currently rounding a ridge in the Gulf of Alaska is now forecast to split, adding additional complexity to an already complex forecast. This split should turn out to be good news for our area by later Monday and Tuesday.

First, the cutoff low currently over the western Great Basin is forecast to eject a piece of energy that moves near our area overnight. There will be some upward motion, but because I am not optimistic about snow amounts in the warming southwest flow, I expect only 1-4” to be reported by Sunday morning and possibly another inch or two during the day and another inch or two overnight.

The cutoff low will first be forced to move southward by the upstream kicker-wave tomorrow. As this happens, the kicker-wave itself splits, with the southern portion replacing the current cutoff low and ejecting it over our area by Monday night, while the northern portion mixes with some bitterly cold arctic air associated with the ever-present Hudson Bay vortex.

As the remnants of original cutoff low approach our area Monday, upward motion will increase through the day as temperatures and winds increase. Even though we will be in the negative influence of warming southwest flow, I expect snowfall rates to eventually increase on the hill as the strong upward motions dominate the atmospheric warming, especially later in the afternoon. The valleys, however, may be warm enough for rain or a rain/snow mix in the afternoon.

Snowfall will become heavy to intense around Monday night as the cutoff low phases with northern branch of the kicker-wave, veering the winds to our favored northwest direction by around midnight. Additionally, the very cold air now present in the northern branch of the storm will lower snow densities and enhance snowfall rates as the atmosphere continues to destabilize through Tuesday. I would expect 6-12” of snow to be reported Tuesday morning, with an additional 6-12” falling during the day and overnight to be reported Wednesday morning.

Temperatures will be unseasonably cold on Wednesday and will stay cold into Thursday. Valley inversion will form making as well, making the first few days of March feel like mid-winter. Temperatures will moderate under a building ridge for Thursday and Friday before we are clipped by a fast moving wave traveling through the ridge that may produce snow snow showers on Saturday.

Periods of snow through the next week

Thursday, February 26, 2015

A trailing wave passes over the area this evening behind the departing storm, increasing snows a bit and leaving another 1-4” on the hill by tomorrow morning. Friday and Saturday morning is a transition period as another complicated storm system similar to last weekend takes shape over the western United States.

That storm, currently located near the Washington / British Columbia maritime border, is splitting. It is eventually forecast to evolve into two pieces including a closed low over the western Great Basin and a much faster moving wave that will skirt the northern Colorado border early Sunday.

Dissimilar to last week, there is no strong upward motion over our area during the transition period before the cutoff low begins to affect us by around Saturday afternoon. Therefore only light snow or snow showers at best are expected through Friday and most of Saturday, and it may even be dry.

While it is nearly certain that southern Colorado and those areas favored in central Colorado with southwest flow will receive the majority of snowfall from this storm this weekend, the models are struggling with the northern extent of the snows, creating an uncertain forecast for the Steamboat area starting Saturday afternoon and lasting through Monday morning. I’m going to have to wait until the models have a better handle on the storm before issuing snowfall estimates for that time frame.

Additionally, another kicker wave topping a ridge in the Gulf of Alaska will first force the closed low to move eastward beginning early Monday, moving over our area around Monday night with moderate to heavy snows. The kicker wave will mix with some very cold arctic air over western Canada, likely giving us another blast of heavy snows later Tuesday into Wednesday, accompanied with unseasonably cold temperatures by Wednesday afternoon into Thursday morning. While it is too early to forecast amounts, the potential for another one to two feet are possible from Monday through Wednesday.

Dry and warmer weather is expected to return for the following weekend.

Snows likely every day this week except Tuesday

Sunday, February 22, 2015

A cutoff low currently located in central California is responsible for the heavy snows located in southern Colorado. Some light snow continues over our area as southwest flow is lifted by a dome of cool air over the valley, but the main action is to our south. There may be an additional 1-4” of snow overnight if the energy from the cutoff low wobbles northward, and maybe another inch or two during the day tomorrow before energy eventually sinks south of our area by Monday night.

Skies should clear for Tuesday as temperatures warm. But the break will be short-lived as a disturbance in northwest flow passes over the area on Wednesday. Additionally, some cool air from the western side of the still vigorous Hudson bay vortex will mix with the storm, with some models dropping the system a bit too far west for the best snowfall for our area. This may change, but current forecasts have snow starting around mid-day Wednesday with 3-6” falling by Thursday morning.

Snow will barely end before another major storm very similar to this past one begins to influence our area as soon as Thursday afternoon. Again, this looks like a long-duration event that may last through next weekend with some snow each day. Stay tuned for more details as the event draws closer.

Weekend storm heralds long-awaited pattern change

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The current sunny weather will last through tomorrow, with warming temperatures noted. A storm currently rounding the west coast ridge near the coast of British Columbia will mix with some cold air from the Hudson Bay vortex and turn potent, first bringing clouds to the area early Friday followed by showers later in the day.

Temperatures should drop quickly Friday night accompanied by periods of moderate to heavy snows as the storm enters the Great Basin. Pieces of energy ejected from the storm along the frontal boundary will keep strong upward motion over the area through the day Saturday, continuing the moderate to heavy snows in seasonably cold temperatures.

The snowfall forecast will likely change as the event nears and models gain a better handle the storm’s evolution, but I expect significant snowfall to be reported through the weekend. If snow starts by Friday afternoon, I would expect 4-8” to be reported Saturday morning with probably another 3-6” during the day Saturday.

By Saturday night, the storm system becomes sheared as a piece of the storm moves westward over northern California, creating a broad area of lift extending across the Great Basin and into the Colorado Rockies. It looks like snows will continue Saturday night and through Sunday as some of the wave that initially contributed to the cold air on Saturday moves towards our area from the north and interacts with the weakening storm over northern California. Adding the 3-6” during the day Saturday with a forecast of 3-6” of snow overnight yields a 6-12” by report Sunday morning. And another 3-6” during the day Sunday which will be reported Monday morning yielding storm totals of 1 to 2 feet.

Snows should end by Sunday night or early Monday as we are caught between the California storm and the jet stream to our north and east. Though Monday will start cold, seasonable temperatures should return as the workweek progresses before another somewhat similar storm threatens our region by the end of the workweek.

The good news for the medium to long term is that these storms look to end the dominance of the west coast ridge for a while, allowing periods of stormy weather to cross over the area. It appears March might be coming in like a lion!

Once promising storm for Monday fizzling

Friday, February 13, 2015

After another couple of spectacular days today and Saturday, the once promising storm traveling through the dominant west coast ridge is expected to be considerably weakened as it approaches our area. There was hope in the last forecast that some phasing would occur between a loitering cutoff low near Baja, Pacific energy impacting the west coast and waves of cold air circulating around the Hudson Bay vortex. However, the west coast ridge will not only weaken the storm entering the west coast on Saturday, but will keep the Baja low to our south and the coldest air to our north and east.

By Sunday, likely early in the day, the weakened Pacific storm will bring some light showers to our area with only and inch or two of accumulations expected on the hill. Quickly following this wave will be a surge of moderately cold air from the north, bringing more persistent snows for Monday along with significantly colder temperatures. There is uncertainty with regards to the western extent of this cold air, but currently I expect 3-6” of snow during the day Monday.

Even though the threat of snow looks to end later Monday, we will be seasonably cool but mostly dry next week as waves of cold air rotating around the Hudson bay vortex graze our area.

There is another storm forecast for around next weekend or the end of the workweek, but this also might be weakened by the west coast ridge, so the forecast for then is uncertain.

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