Precipitation likely later Thursday with cold front

Sunday, November 12, 2017

A large storm currently in the Gulf of Alaska will eject some energy that will weakly affect the Steamboat Springs area on Tuesday. The parent storm will move over our area later Thursday or early Friday with warm showers ahead of the front turning to snow behind the front.

The current warm and dry weather will continue through Monday, though clouds may increase ahead of a weak cool front ejected from the Gulf of Alaska storm that will gaze northern Colorado on Tuesday. There may be some high elevation snow showers Tuesday afternoon or evening along with a decrease in temperatures, but the system looks similar to the mostly dry one that just passed this last Saturday.

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Temperatures will warm again on Wednesday as high pressure briefly builds ahead of the now eastward-moving Gulf of Alaska storm. Clouds and winds from the southwest will increase on Thursday as the storm tracks across the Great Basin, with low elevation rain and high elevation snow starting during the day Thursday.

The cold front will pass around Thursday night or Friday morning, with continued breezy southwest winds veering to the northwest and bringing a burst of snow that will be locally heavy for a time. Much colder temperatures are expected for Friday as snow showers taper off during the day or evening. There is some uncertainty with respect to the timing of the cold front, as the European ECMWF is about 12 hours behind the American GFS. Six to twelve inches of snow at the higher elevations is possible, along with a few inches at the lower elevations during the cold part of the storm.

If skies clear Friday night behind the storm, Saturday will start quite cold, but with plenty of sun during the day to help warm temperatures. As was the case this past weekend, the best warming will wait until the following day on Sunday as the cold airmass takes longer to warm with shorter days and lower sun angles.

Another storm drops into the Gulf of Alaska late next weekend, and this storm is currently forecast to split as it approaches the West Coast early in the next work week. There is uncertainty regarding to how much energy stays with the eastward propagating part of the storm and how much is left behind off the coast of California, but currently it looks like some sort of storm will travel through the Steamboat Springs area just before Opening Day, which is scheduled for Wednesday, November 22.

Quiet weather week ahead

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Generally warmer temperatures and dry weather is expected for the upcoming week, with a ridge of high pressure over the western states causing incoming Pacific storms to weaken and travel mainly north of the Steamboat Springs area.

The weak storm advertised in the previous forecast for Friday night has split, ensuring only minimal precipitation, if any, for northern Colorado. The northern piece of the storm may bring some clouds later Friday, while the southern piece will travel near northern Colorado on Saturday. Temperatures will cool a bit Saturday, and along with some clouds there will be a slight chance of minimal precipitation later in the day.

Sunday is still looking beautiful as a dry and warm airmass moves across the area.

A large storm will form in the Gulf of Alaska early in the work week, and a weakening piece of it will travel over our area on Tuesday. Ahead of that, clouds may be on the increase on Monday ahead of a slight chance of spotty showers and cooler temperatures on Tuesday.

The Gulf of Alaska storm is forecast to cross the West Coast on Wednesday, and we will see some clouds and normal temperatures ahead of it.

By Thursday, current model runs have trended stronger with the storm as it crosses the Great Basin, bringing a cold front through the area along with windy southwest flow ahead of the front and windy northwest flow behind the front. While it looks like we will have a decent shot of cold air and precipitation, the strength of the storm will likely vary in future model runs, so confidence is low.

The longer-term forecast for week two has turned drier the last few days as Gulf of Alaska storms form and now move southwestward, pumping up a ridge of high pressure over the western states. However, there is still plenty of time for the long-term model to revert to the earlier solutions which were far colder and snowier.

Clearing and warming for the next week starts Wednesday except for a small storm Friday night

Monday, November 6, 2017

A leftover part of the current storm currently spinning in Idaho will keep the cool and unsettled weather going through Tuesday in the Steamboat Springs area, before warming and drying is advertised for the next week, save for a small storm forecast for Friday night.

Showers will pick up again this afternoon and last through mid-evening before they slowly taper off over the next 24 hours or so. The Idaho part of the storm will travel to the southeast and be over Colorado Tuesday night with minimal additional precipitation and colder temperatures.

If skies clear later Tuesday night, Wednesday morning will be quite chilly, but a dry airmass settles over the area, bringing sunny skies and warming temperatures. The warming may be moderated on Thursday by a grazing storm well to our northeast, but will continue on Friday.

Clouds will be on the increase during the day Friday as a weakening storm crosses the West Coast and brings some light snow showers to northern Colorado by Friday night. Light accumulations at the higher elevations are possible, but the storm should be past by noon on Saturday with dry weather and warming temperatures returning for later in the day.

A beautiful Sunday is currently forecast by the numerical weather models, with clouds on the increase on Monday as another weak storm approaches the area, bringing some showers to northern Colorado on Tuesday.

Since the Steamboat Ski Area is scheduled to open in only two weeks from Wednesday, I’m sure there is a lot of interest in the longer term forecast. The American GFS forecasts out to 16 days, though precision usually quickly decays by around day 10. However, in the interest of providing fodder to those eager to consume it, I will note that an active pattern looks to begin several days before opening. Both the European ECMWF and the American GFS build ridges of high pressure over the Bering sea and the Greenland area, and this allows energy and cold air rotating around a low pressure center over Hudson Bay to cross the North Pole and travel across Alaska. At this point, it looks like this will phase with Pacific energy and form a strong storm in the Gulf of Alaska, continuing the wet and cold weather for the Pacific Northwest. Eventually, at least the last two iterations of the American GFS bring some of that energy across the Rocky Mountains the weekend before opening in the form of cold and snow.

Weekend storm continues into early next week

Thursday, November 2, 2017

After a pleasant Friday, a storm off the British Columbia coast will move southward and begin affecting the weather in Steamboat Springs on Saturday. The evolution of the storm will be complex, with a part of the storm moving southwestward along the West Coast and another part moving southeastward towards the Great Basin. Additional energy and cold air moving southward along the British Columbia coast will split as well later in the weekend, reinforcing both the northern and southern parts of the storm.

The forecast is not quite as uncertain as you might expect, with the snow levels being the largest unknown, as our area alternates between warmer southwest flow ahead of several cool fronts and cooler northwest flow behind the fronts.

Showers will start as rain in the Yampa Valley by noon on Saturday along with breezy southwest winds, with snow levels lowering to the valley floor by Saturday evening or night as the first cool front passes through the area and winds back to the west or northwest.

Showers will continue Sunday and Monday as additional energy from British Columbia elongates the storm to the southwest, stretching a wavering stationary front across the Great Basin. The front will loosely represent the precipitation type, with snow north of the front and rain south of the front. The battle between the warmer air overriding the front in southwest flow and the cooler air north of the front will likely lead to periods of both rain and snow before another cool front passes through the area around Monday night, changing the precipitation to snow again.

The front will be slowly dissipate on Tuesday, leaving decreasing showers before southwest flow behind the storm brings some warmer temperatures to the area later in the day.

Wednesday looks warmer and drier based upon the current suite of numerical models, though there is a storm that is forecast to affect southern Colorado as energy lingering off the West Coast finally moves inland. This may or may not be far enough north to affect our area with high elevation snow.

Impressive disagreement exists for the end of next week among the numerical models, with the forecasts ranging from cool and stormy to warm and dry heading into next weekend.

After early showers, drier weather for the week starts Halloween

Monday, October 30, 2017

A couple more cold fronts will pass through the Steamboat Springs area this week, with the first reinforcing the current cool temperatures and bringing the possibility of snow showers around midnight and early Tuesday morning. Some dry air to our north will move over our area in northwest flow after the morning, and we should see a dry but chilly Halloween afternoon and evening.

Temperatures will warm to normal for Wednesday before another cool front in northwest flow passes over northern Colorado on Thursday. Though we will see temperatures knocked back a bit and there will be some clouds, the bulk of the moisture stays to our north.

Friday will feature dry conditions with some warming ahead of a complex storm that forms in the Gulf of Alaska thanks to some Pacific energy traveling over a ridge of high pressure in the Bering Sea and mixing with some cold air from western Canada. The storm will split off the West Coast during the weekend, with our area forecast to be under the influence of the southern part of the storm on Saturday and both parts of the storm later in the weekend or early next week.

It is no surprise there is uncertainty regarding the evolution of this storm, but right now some low elevation rain showers and high elevation snow showers are expected around Saturday afternoon before they end ahead of the cool front associated with the northern part of the storm. This front is expected later Sunday afternoon or evening with showers, though at this point it may or may not be cold enough for snow in the Yampa Valley.

By Monday, showers will increase and snow levels will rise as the cool front is chased back north by energy ejecting out of the southern part of the storm. At least one numerical weather forecast brings the southern part of the storm through the Great Basin and affects our area with low elevation rain and high elevation snow for later Monday and Tuesday, ahead of a break in the active weather pattern advertised for midweek.

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