Record dry January likely followed by chance of snow next week

Thursday, January 29, 2015

A portion of the cutoff low currently off the northern Baja coast will move inland over the next few days, spreading precipitation first into Arizona and New Mexico by Friday and then southern Colorado by Friday night. After a sunny day today, clouds will overspread the area tomorrow. There is uncertainty with regards to the northern extent of the precipitation, with our best chance of showers from Friday afternoon through Saturday afternoon before a dry wave rotating around the persistent Hudson bay vortex in northwest flow brings clearing to the area by Saturday night.

Due to the warm nature of the storm and lack of much wind, I expect modest accumulations at best, with optimistically around 1-4” falling by Saturday morning, Anything under about 6” would mark this as the driest January since the Steamboat Ski Area started record keeping in 1979!

The Hudson Bay vortex is forecast to further expand westward over the Canadian plains this weekend and into next week, and this increases the chances of snow for our area as cool air moves southward. Again, this will be a battle between the arctic airmass to our north and the persistent west coast ridge; periods of light to moderate snow can be expected Monday and Tuesday as a significant push of cool and modestly moist air moves over our area in northwest flow.

Additional weaker waves of energy are forecast for most of the rest of the workweek, leading to the possibility of additional light snow, though it is not clear if these will be productive as they battle with the flattened west coast ridge.

The west coat ridge appears to win by the end of the workweek leading to some warming and drying headed into next weekend. There is large model uncertainty after that as Pacific energy is expected to either weaken or ride over the ridge, hopefully leading to a snowier pattern change heading into mid-February.

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