STORM UPDATE: Stronger cold front means lots more snow

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The cold front discussed in the Sunday forecast is now forecast to consolidate and stretch further west, keeping moderate to heavy snows over the Steamboat Springs area through at least early Thursday and necessitating this update.

Several waves of energy are forecast to move over northern Colorado this afternoon, and I now expect 5-10” of snow to be reported by Wednesday morning at mid-mountain.

But the real reason for this update is Wednesday, as the stronger front, reinforced with energy dropping southward from central Canada, will force moderate to heavy snows through the day Wednesday and overnight. The ribbon of dry air discussed earlier is now well north of the area and no longer a concern, and I now expect 6-12” during the day Wednesday along with another 6-12” overnight, leading to a Thursday morning report of 1 to 2 feet.

The cold front slowly sags southward during Thursday, and as we lose the forcing associated with the front, snows will diminish. There is model disagreement with respect to how fast the front moves south, with some models tapering off snowfall during the day on Thursday and others waiting until Friday morning.

Regardless, dry air will invade the area by sometime Friday, eventually bringing sunny skies and cold temperatures that will last through Saturday.

Current model forecasts have another strong Gulf of Alaska storm forming over the weekend. Models are forecasting that part of the old Hawaii system left over from a couple of storms ago will mix with the southern end of the Gulf of Alaska storm and move eastward over a broad ridge that forms over the western U.S.

Though we may see some light snow showers on Sunday, the warmer temperatures under the ridge as well as the copious incoming moisture may lead to a rain event in the Yampa Valley, with snow at higher elevations, from Sunday night through Monday night. Temperatures look to cool by Tuesday morning changing the rain to another round of possibly significant accumulating snow.

Those local residents who are considering removing snow loads from their roof may want to act over the weekend. I will still issue the late-week forecast on Thursday or Friday and expect to have a better idea of how next week’s storm will evolve.

 

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