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Moisture begins increasing this weekend

Thursday, July 18, 2019

The Steamboat Springs area is enjoying a quintessential mid-summer day with sunny skies and warm temperatures. This will continue into the first part of the weekend before a weak cool front grazes north central Colorado and briefly increases atmospheric moisture later Saturday and Sunday. Drying is then forecast for the early part of the work week before a monsoonal surge of moisture moves overhead starting around midweek.

A ridge of high pressure over the west has been flattened by a seasonably strong jet stream traveling across the northern Rockies. Winds will become breezy from the west again today and tomorrow as a disturbance passes north of our area with temperatures several degrees above our average high of 82 F.

By later Saturday, the disturbance drags a weak cool front through northern and eastern Colorado. While the strongest storms will be relegated to the Front Range and eastern Colorado, we will see increasing clouds with a small chance of an afternoon or evening shower on both Saturday and Sunday. These will likely produce more wind than rain as the lower levels of the atmosphere remain quite dry.

Ahead of another disturbance that moves east across the northern Rockies from the Gulf of Alaska later in the work week, the ridge of high pressure over the west amplifies. As discussed in the weather narrative last week, subtle changes in the location and strength of the ridge can alter the trajectory of monsoonal moisture that ends up over our area, but right now Monday and at least most of Tuesday are looking hot and dry as the monsoonal moisture is transported northward into Utah.

By around midweek, the Gulf of Alaska disturbance makes landfall in the Pacific Northwest and again flattens the ridge of high pressure over the west as it moves east across the northern Rockies. This bends the monsoonal moisture plume towards our area around Wednesday when we should see increasing moisture and at least some cloud cover that will lower afternoon temperatures closer to average.

Shower chances look to increase after midweek and into the following weekend as the monsoonal moisture plume is forecast to remain near or over our area.

Standard summertime weather on tap for the upcoming week

Sunday, July 14, 2019

A small disturbance in southwest flow brought some clouds to Steamboat Springs earlier this Sunday morning, but sunny conditions have returned as the disturbance moves east of our area. This dry weather will persist through the upcoming week, save for Monday when we will see the best chance for showers in north central Colorado.

Moisture moving northward within the North American Monsoon has been high-based so far, and with the lower levels of the atmosphere remaining dry, storms have been hard to come by. Another surge of moisture is forecast to move over our area from the south on Monday, resulting in the best, but still modest, chance of showers for the upcoming week.

Meanwhile, storminess in the Gulf of Alaska is forecast to move eastward across the northern U.S. this week, and the westerly flow will squash the current ridge of high pressure over the Rocky Mountains. The southern suppression of the ridge will sever the flow of monsoonal moisture from the south and bring dry air over the southwestern corner of the country.

Chances for precipitation will decrease markedly for Tuesday and even further for the rest of the work week, with the main weather highlight being the likelihood of breezy west and southwesterly winds on Wednesday and Thursday as the storm track stays well north of our area.

By the weekend, the parade of Gulf of Alaska storms looks to subside, allowing the ridge of high pressure over the Rocky Mountains that had been squashed by the storms to the north to rebound and expand west. This will reopen the door for additional monsoonal moisture to be carried northward toward our area and increase precipitation chances starting around mid next weekend.

Here comes the North American Monsoon

Thursday, July 11, 2019

The warm, dry and sunny weather we are currently experiencing in Steamboat Springs this Thursday afternoon will give way to increasing moisture starting Friday. Clouds will increase along with increasing precipitation chances that will persist through the weekend and into the next work week.

An expansive ridge of high pressure is currently covering the western two thirds of the country, with Tropical Storm Barry threatening the Louisiana coast on the southeastern side of the ridge and continued storminess in the Gulf of Alaska on the northeastern side of the ridge.

Contributing to the strength of the ridge is the strong summer heating of the elevated Mexican Plateau, and the on-time appearance of the North American Monsoon is due to moisture originally from the Caribbean being pulled first westward and then northward around the ridge of high pressure. While we do not see the intensity and persistence of precipitation associated with the Indian Monsoon (which is much stronger due to the higher and broader Tibetan Plateau), our area will see increased clouds with a greater likelihood of locally moderate to heavy precipitation, due to not only the increased moisture but also the relatively slow storm movement thanks to the light winds under the ridge. Another hallmark of the North American Monsoon is warmer overnight temperatures as the increased moisture acts like an earth-blanket, and possibly slightly cooler afternoon temperatures if the clouds are persistent and thick enough to block some of the sun.

And its not certain we will see any precipitation as these monsoonal surges of moisture produce relatively spotty coverage, but there will be some chance on Friday, with more of a chance on Saturday and better chances on Sunday and Monday.

By Tuesday, the Gulf of Alaska storminess is forecast to move inland well north of our area, but the increased westerly flow will not only flatten the ridge of high pressure over the west, but sever our fetch of moisture from the south. The end result is decreasing precipitation chances for Tuesday and Wednesday, along with some breezy westerly afternoon winds.

Subtle changes in the strength and position of the ridge of high pressure can drastically affect the northward extent of monsoonal moisture and the resultant forecast, but right now moisture may begin to increase again for the end of the work week before a more robust surge of monsoonal moisture may occur around the following weekend or soon thereafter.

Best shower chances this Sunday and Monday

Sunday, July 7, 2019

The sunny skies this Sunday morning in Steamboat Springs have given way to increasing clouds as moisture moves over our area in southwest flow. Showers will be possible later today and again tomorrow before drying occurs on Tuesday. The dry air will stick around through the workweek along with our warmest temperatures of the summer so far, before moisture returns around the weekend.

Currently, we are seeing increased moisture in the southwest flow ahead of a cold storm near Vancouver. There will be a chance of afternoon and evening showers today and again Monday before the Vancouver storm travels across Montana on Tuesday and drags a weak cool front through our area. The air will cool and dry as we see breezy westerly winds, keeping high temperatures on Tuesday comfortably below our average of 81 F.

But as the storm travels eastward across the northern U.S. border through the workweek, a ridge of high pressure will build over the Rocky Mountains starting on Wednesday. Temperatures will be the warmest of the summer so far, with high temperatures around five degrees or so above average and almost no chance of rain through Thursday.

By Friday, additional incoming Pacific energy flattens the ridge of high pressure over the Rockies, and this is important for our area as subtle changes in the position and strength of the ridge influence the fetch of moisture from the south associated with the North American Monsoon. But these subtle differences make for a tough forecast as relatively minor changes in the upper level flow may mean the difference between a wet and dry prediction.

With that said, shower chances are currently advertised to return around Friday. Though a ribbon of dry air is forecast to be just to our north through the following weekend, if that stays to our north as currently forecast by some weather prediction models, then the chance for showers will continue through the weekend and into the following workweek.

Warm and dry until moisture returns near the end of the weekend

Thursday, July 4, 2019

The Steamboat Springs area is currently experiencing a beautiful warm, dry and sunny Independence Day. More of the same is expected through most of the long Fourth of July weekend before precipitation chances increase for later Sunday and Monday. The chances decrease for a couple of days before increasing again toward the end of the workweek and heading into the following weekend.

Counterclockwise flow around a strong and cold storm centered near Vancouver has brought warm and dry southwest flow to our area. While cold air from western Canada and additional incoming Pacific energy will periodically energize the storm over the next few days, a ridge of high pressure building northwestward from the Louisiana coast into Texas and the Rocky Mountains will keep any weather associated with the storm at bay. So the warm and dry days and cool nights will continue through the first half of the weekend.

By later Sunday, clockwise flow around the Texas ridge of high pressure will carry some moisture from the Mexican Plateau northward as the light winds turn to be more from the south. This pattern is representative of the beginnings of the North American Monsoon, and there will be increasing chances for showers from later Sunday through Monday.

Meanwhile, part of the Vancouver storm will move eastward across the northern Rockies early in the workweek and suppresses the Texas ridge of high pressure southward. Drier air will return for Tuesday and Wednesday as the winds turn back to southwesterly or even westerly.

The old Vancouver storm is then forecast to travel east of the northern Rocky Mountains around midweek, allowing the Texas ridge to rebuild to the west and northwest. The strong summer sun will allow the ridge of high pressure to prevail over any storminess to our northwest, and the North American monsoon looks to become better established over mostly New Mexico and Colorado. The forecast moisture over our area will increase precipitation chances for the end of the work week and the following weekend, with a stronger and wetter monsoon signature forecast by some weather forecast models for the following workweek.

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