Winter solstice to bring a blast of winter

Sunday, December 17, 2017

The current storm is literally splitting around Steamboat Springs with precipitation to our north in Wyoming and south in New Mexico. We are left with only clouds and some very light snow showers at the higher elevations, with peaks of sun expected during the rest of the afternoon.

A weak fast-moving storm to our north will bring some additional moisture over our area early in the work week, keeping a mix of clouds and sun in the forecast for Monday and Tuesday.

Ahead of a strong storm that is currently in the Gulf of Alaska, drier air in southwest flow overspreads the southwest U.S. and brings warmer than average temperatures under mostly sunny skies to the Steamboat Springs area on Wednesday.

Winter solstice arrives Thursday morning at 9:28, and will be closely followed by a blast of real winter weather. The Gulf of Alaska storm will have mixed with some cold air from western Canada as it moves through the Great Basin, and a strong cold front is forecast to move through northern Colorado sometime during the first day of winter.

Snow showers will develop ahead of the cold front as some energy is ejected out of the Great Basin storm, but showers will turn into moderate to heavy snow as the front blasts through our area later Thursday. There is some uncertainty with the storm’s evolution, with some splitting evident in the numerical forecast guidance, though the models now keep the storm mostly intact as it crosses the Rockies. At this point, 4-8” of snow is possible for the Friday morning Steamboat ski report, though the forecast amounts will likely change as the Great Basin storm evolves.

While a ridge of high pressure rapidly builds in the Gulf of Alaska near weeks end, another storm  traveling down the Pacific Northwest coast mixes with some bitterly cold arctic air pulled southward from the North Pole and will affect our weekend weather.

While it looks likely that Christmas weekend will be cold, there is uncertainty to how snowy it may be. Numerical models elongate the push of cold air form central California to New England, bringing very cold temperatures to most of the U.S., and it looks like Steamboat Springs will be near the boundary that separates the coldest air to our north. Though I expect the forecast to change by my next post on Wednesday or Thursday, after a dry Friday day, persistent light to moderate snow may grace our area from Friday night through Christmas Eve, with significant accumulations of light and fluffy low-density snow possible.

From Christmas Day forward, models are struggling with how much energy gets left behind in the southwest as most of the storm moves east, how strong the Gulf of Alaska ridge becomes and whether moist Pacific energy undercuts the ridge. The evolution of this complex pattern will determine if the snow and cold stick around for the last week of 2017.

I spend a lot of time skiing and mountain biking, depending on the season, and these are some of the products that have worked very well for me. Consider purchasing them through these links as I will earn a small commission that will help me keep SnowAlarm running. And feel free to contact me if you would like to see your product endorsed.

Save your soles in time for the holidays! Your boot soles, that is. If you do any walking in your ski boots on hard surfaces, then you know the grating and grinding sounds you hear can’t be good. In fact, worn boot soles make your binding unsafe as it interferes with the boot-binding interface. Cat Tracks are a flexible protector that keeps your boot soles pristine, and adds a cushion for walking comfort. When it’s time to click into bindings, I take them off and stash them in my coat pocket.

Yaktrax are similar, but I have not used them since they appear they would take up a bit more space in my jacket pocket. But you get a rocker sole that promotes a natural stride which may be worth the space sacrifice. If I did not have to carry them around all day, these would be my choice.

Snow tonight and possibly Saturday

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Your snow dances are working! What looked like a dry Wednesday night into Thursday morning in Steamboat Springs has turned into a snowy forecast, as energy moving southward along the east side of a dominant West Coast ridge has trended further west these last few days. The end result is a couple of weak waves will move over our area tonight and early Thursday morning, leaving 2-4” for the Thursday morning report with another inch or two possible during the morning.

Sunny skies will return for later Thursday and Friday ahead of another possible storm weak storm on Saturday. Numerical weather models have uncharacteristically diverged with the Saturday forecast, with some bringing snow into northern Colorado Saturday morning while others keep us dry as they split the storm around our area.

Whether the Saturday storm splits and the amount of energy partitioned between the northern and southern parts of the storm has implications for the remainder of the weekend and early next week. Unsettled weather could stick around from Saturday through Monday with generally light snow, there could be a stronger storm for Sunday, or no storm at all. At this point, I have no preference for any solution, so please be diligent in whatever you are doing to conjure up the snow.

Surprisingly, the weather models agree that nice weather will return for around next midweek ahead of a potentially large storm that may herald a pattern change for the West. This is the result of some cold Canadian air mixing with a storm in the Gulf of Alaska and forcing the western ridge of high pressure westward. A cold and snowy Christmas weekend is looking increasingly likely, though I’d like to get past the uncertainty surrounding this weekend before biting off on that forecast.

I spend a lot of time skiing and mountain biking, depending on the season, and these are some of the products that have worked very well for me. Consider purchasing them through these links as I will earn a small commission that will help me keep SnowAlarm running. And feel free to contact me if you would like to see your product endorsed.

Cold toes? I’ve used the awesome Hotronic foot warmers from their beginnings, and can honestly say that each iteration of the product is better than the last. I have the S4 custom, attached to my powerstrap so they never fall off, and my toes stay warm for my entire ski day

To keep your toes even warmer, try some gloves for your boot! I’ve found these work best in powder, as it keeps the cold snow from touching the boot plastic and sucking heat away from the interior. However, they do cover the lowest two boot buckles, so this accessory is not for those who like to (or need to!) fiddle with the buckles during the day.

Mostly sunny with some cooling for Monday, Thursday and Saturday

Sunday, December 10, 2017

A dominant and large ridge of high pressure over the West Coast has brought sunny skies to the Steamboat Springs area this Sunday. Waves of energy traveling over the top of the ridge will bring some cooler temperatures and breezy northwest winds on Monday and Thursday, though the Yampa Valley will start off each day cool as the clear skies and low sun angle encourage a temperature inversion to form each night.

Rather than traveling over the top of the West Coast ridge, a pattern change may be in the offing around Saturday as a Pacific storm beats the ridge down. It is not yet clear how much of the Pacific storm will survive the battle with the ridge, but some clouds and snow showers are currently advertised for next weekend.

The unsettled weekend weather may last into the following Monday before the numerical weather models have a much stronger and more promising storm moving into California around mid next week. While forecasts generally become far more uncertain after about a week, there is agreement that this storm will mix with some cold air from Canada. This may allow wintry weather to settle over the western states heading into Christmas weekend, especially if the West Coast ridge rebuilds further west into the Gulf of Alaska as is currently advertised.

I spend a lot of time skiing and mountain biking, depending on the season, and these are some of the products that have worked very well for me. Consider purchasing them through these links as I will earn a small commission that will help me keep SnowAlarm running. And feel free to contact me if you would like to see your product endorsed.

My new favorite cold-weather glove are all about warmth. And when combined with the standard HotHands handwamers which I use below about 5F, I’m good for the day. Three fingers sit together with the index finger separated, but there is enough room to scrunch all your fingers together while on the lift, which is especially nice if you have a handwarmer in the mitten-part of the glove.

But what about your toes? I’ve used the awesome Hotronic foot warmers from their beginnings, and can honestly say that each iteration of the product is better than the last. I have the S4 custom, attached to my powerstrap so they never fall off, and my toes stay warm for my entire ski day

Gorgeous weekend on tap

Thursday, December 7, 2017

The current wintry conditions in Steamboat Springs will last through today before the sun returns for most of the next week. Several more inches of snow are possible through about midnight tonight as more cold air slides southward along the eastern periphery of a large and dominant ridge of high pressure centered over the West Coast.

With the new snow cover, temperature inversions, where temperatures increase with elevation, have formed in the Yampa Valley and will continue for the next several days as clear nighttime skies will allow the surface to efficiently cool. Additionally, the West Coast ridge is forecast to expand eastward, bringing warmer air to the higher elevations. The combination of a low sun angle, cold surface temperatures and warm mountain temperatures makes the atmosphere very stable and inhibits any vertical mixing that may bring the warmer air aloft down to the surface.

The end result will be the Yampa Valley will be slower to warm than the mountains under the sunny skies that are forecast for Friday and the weekend.

I spend a lot of time skiing and mountain biking, depending on the season, and these are some of the products that have worked very well for me. Consider purchasing them through these links as I will earn a small commission that will help me keep SnowAlarm running. And feel free to contact me if you would like to see your product endorsed.

I’ve found these work best in powder, as it keeps the cold snow from touching the boot plastic and sucking heat away from the interior. However, they do cover the lowest two boot buckles, so this accessory is not for those who like to (or need to!) fiddle with the buckles during the day.

  • Helps retain up to +20 degrees inside the boot
  • Includes thermal reflective adhesive strips for additional insulation from inside the boot
  • Adjustable Velcro heel strap for ease of use and adjustment
  • Side abrasion resistant patches for durability and wear
  • Wind and water resistant neoprene material

I’ve used these from their beginnings, and can honestly say that each iteration of the product is better than the last. I have the S4 custom, attached to my powerstrap so they never fall off, and my toes stay warm for my entire ski day.

Hotronic’s Foot Warmers S Series are the culmination of years of experience in research, design, and testing. With thin profile, high capacity, cold-temperature-operation Battery Packs, the S Series are Hotronic’s most powerful yet compact Foot Warmer designs to date. Maintain comfort and warmth in your feet when it matters most, in the cold!

There are three waves of energy traveling over the top of the ridge that may help to drag some cooler air into northern Colorado on Monday, Wednesday and later Thursday as the West Coast ridge periodically retreats to our west. The Monday wave will bring a slight cool down under mostly sunny skies, while the Wednesday wave may only bring some clouds.

The strongest and moistest of the waves is currently timed for later Thursday and is advertised to bring some light snow to our area. It should be noted that the boundary between the warm and dry air to our west and the cold and moist air to our east will be very sensitive to the track of these waves, so the forecast can easily move to either the warmer and drier side or the cooler and moister side, especially after the dry Monday wave. In fact, the European ECMWF has the late Thursday wave much further west than the American GFS, so the forecast is quite uncertain for the end of the work week.

This of course leads to further forecast uncertainty for the following weekend. While the West Coast ridge is forecast to rebuild for a time, there are indications of a pattern change after that as incoming Pacific energy starts to break down the dominant West Coast ridge. This may allow for a more active weather regime starting around that weekend or the following work week.

Cold front first brings some snow tonight and then cold temperatures for the work week

Sunday, December 3, 2017

A strong cold front currently moving through Salt Lake City has brought southwest winds and clouds to the Steamboat Springs area this afternoon. The storm responsible for the front is forecast to split into several pieces, with the best moisture and forcing staying to our north. However, along with the much colder air, we will see precipitation with the storm through Monday night.

There may be some rain showers at the lower elevations and snow showers at higher elevations ahead of the front this evening, but snow levels will crash to the Yampa Valley floor when the front blasts through around midnight. There will be localized heavy and even intense snow showers with blowing snow along the front and for a few hours behind it, with several inches of fairly dense snow likely at the Steamboat Ski Area by the Monday morning report, and more further north and at higher elevations.

I spend a lot of time skiing and mountain biking, depending on the season, and these are some of the products that have worked very well for me. Consider purchasing them through these links as I will earn a small commission that will help me keep SnowAlarm running. And feel free to contact me if you would like to see your product endorsed.

I’ve used these from their beginnings, and can honestly say that each iteration of the product is better than the last. I have the S4 custom, attached to my powerstrap so they never fall off, and my toes stay warm for my entire ski day.

Hotronic’s Foot Warmers S Series are the culmination of years of experience in research, design, and testing. With thin profile, high capacity, cold-temperature-operation Battery Packs, the S Series are Hotronic’s most powerful yet compact Foot Warmer designs to date. Maintain comfort and warmth in your feet when it matters most, in the cold!

You may not know it, but you want progressive flex in your ski boots. This allows the tongue of the boot to maintain contact with your shin through all phases of the turn. Comfort and control with no sore shins!

The Booster Strap is made of high strength elastomeric webbing with an anti-slip micro-adjustable cam buckle. The elastomer allows flexibility, vibration and shock damping. The cam buckle assures a better fit and more comfort.
The Booster Strap elastically fastens together the leg and the ski boot and provides direct ski control so the skis will start turning sooner and will end the turn faster. The graded elasticity of the product allows skiers to choose the reaction speeds that best suit their technical and physical characteristics and skiing ability.

Snows will let up until picking back up again on a cold-feeling-but-near-average Monday morning as winds veer to our favorable northwest direction. While there is plenty of cold air aloft to keep the atmosphere unstable through Monday night, snows will turn more showery in the afternoon as moisture decreases. There may as much as 3-6” of very light and fluffy powder by the below-average and cold Tuesday morning report.

Snows will end by Tuesday morning as the storm moves east of Colorado. A very large and dominant West Coast ridge builds behind the storm, with warm and dry air to our west underneath the ridge, and cold and snowy weather to our east. Over Steamboat Springs, there may be some moderation in the temperatures on Wednesday before another push of cold air and possibly moisture travels southward along the east side of the West Coast ridge. At this point in the forecast, some light snow is possible along with colder temperatures and strong northerly winds on Thursday.

Winds may stay strong on Friday, though dry air infiltrates northern Colorado as the West Coast ridge expands eastward. Sunnier skies and warmer temperatures begin on Friday and look to last through next weekend. I’d like to say the West Coast ridge breaks down after than and brings the storm track back to Colorado, but current long-range forecasts keep the ridge intact through the following work week.

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