Sunday, January 16, 2022
Mostly sunny skies filtered by high clouds and temperatures in the teens in town and around twenty near the top of Mt. Werner are over the Steamboat Springs area this Sunday noon. More of the same is expected for Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Tuesday before several passing disturbances turn the weather cooler and unsettled by Wednesday. One of these disturbances may bring a good chance of snowfall by the end of the work week.
A broad ridge of high pressure is currently centered over the West Coast while a complex trough of low pressure sits over the eastern half of North America. Additionally, an eddy cut off from the main jet stream sits off the coast of California, but is currently trapped under the ridge of high pressure.
While a Nor’Easter is forecast to develop over the next day from a storm currently centered over Georgia, our area will see benign and pleasant weather for tomorrow and Tuesday. The sunny day forecast for Martin Luther King Jr. Day will give way to some clouds on Tuesday in advance of an unsettled period of weather starting on Wednesday and punctuated by a possible storm on Friday.
The unsettled weather will be caused by weather disturbances in the Pacific traveling over the top of the ridge of high pressure over the West and mixing with the cold air in central Canada that is associated with the eastern trough of low pressure.
The big uncertainty for our area is the amount of moisture that will be contained in the Pacific disturbances and the amount of cold air eventually mixed into the storms. Right now, a mostly dry cold front is forecast for Wednesday, but there could be some snow showers that will struggle to produce accumulating snowfall as sparse moisture from that now-eastward-moving eddy from off the California coast mixes with the disturbance.
Another dry cold front is forecast for Thursday, with the final and most potent storm of this series forecast for Friday. There has been a lot of uncertainty both between and within the weather forecast models as to the amount of moisture in this storm, and it stems from how much subtropical moisture currently north of Hawaii gets mixed into a Pacific disturbance currently approaching the Dateline.
The weather forecast models have trended toward a stronger and wetter system these past few iterations, and there is a now a possibility of some not insignificant snow by the end of the work week. So stay tuned to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon as the details of hopefully our next powder day emerge.
Thursday, January 13, 2022
Mostly sunny skies with temperatures in the the low twenties at the Bob Adams airport and low thirties near the top of Mt. Werner are over the Steamboat Springs area this Thursday noon. A small storm brings some snow chances for Friday, though accumulations will be light. And even though Saturday will start chilly, sunny skies return after the storm for a gorgeous weather weekend.
The weather see-saw has flipped, with the cold and snowy weather in the West observed since the end of December shifting to the East. A small storm currently crossing the Pacific Northwest coast is traveling through the ridge of high pressure over the West, and will move through our area on Friday. The storm is weak and has little moisture, so even though snow showers should get going tomorrow morning and last through the evening, accumulations at mid-mountain at the Steamboat Ski Resort are expected to be light and in the 1-4” range, or less, for a cold Saturday morning report, with more snow near the Wyoming border.
But temperatures are forecast to warm under plenty of sunshine as the ridge of high pressure rebounds over our area for the weekend and dry air moves overhead. Due to the cold start on Saturday, high temperatures in town should be around our average of 27 F, though more warming later in the weekend should raise them into the thirties by Sunday and Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
There is a chance of another small storm around midweek or soon thereafter, so stay tuned to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon to see how that storm is developing.
Sunday, January 9, 2022
A crisp and beautiful day is over the Steamboat Springs area with noontime temperatures in the mid-teens this Sunday and nary a cloud in sight. A quiet weather pattern will settle over the West for most of the work week with plenty of sun and warming temperatures ahead of some possibly unsettled weather as we head into the weekend.
After a two and a half week stormy period thanks to a ridge of high pressure near the Dateline that directed cold air and storm energy over our area, lots of sun and warming temperatures are forecast for most of the work week as a ridge of high pressure settles over the West. High temperatures today will be several degrees below our average of 27 F before warming into the thirties through Thursday while low temperatures will be around our average of 3 F.
While we enjoy some beautiful weather, a series of storms are forecast to move around a developing area of low pressure south of the Aleutian Islands, with the first storm being deflected into the Pacific Northwest as it encounters the West Coast ridge. While most of this storm will not have any effect on our weather, the southern part of the storm is forecast to form an eddy that will meander off the coast of Baja for several days. and this may be a player by Friday.
But the next storm, which should cross the Pacific Northwest coast on Thursday will turn our weather unsettled by Friday. This storm looks to split, with weather forecast models struggling with the amount of energy partitioned between the northern and southern parts of the split, and whether that Baja eddy is incorporated into the storm.
Right now, it looks like light snowfall may be possible as soon as Friday, but that forecast may change as the approaching storms get closer. So stay tuned to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon where I’ll discuss the weather for the weekend.
Thursday, January 6, 2022
Temperatures have risen into the mid-thirties in the Steamboat Springs area this Thursday mid-afternoon under cloudy and still-precipitating skies as residents dig out from the long-duration winter storm that started Tuesday night. Snowfall will taper off through the rest of today and tonight before we see some sun on Friday. A modest storm follows on Saturday before the skies clear and the sun returns in earnest for the end of the weekend and the beginning of the work week.
A vortex of very cold air is currently sitting over most of Canada while a weak ridge of high pressure with warm temperatures sits just off the West Coast. Generally, the wind speed of the jet stream is dependent on the temperature difference between the two air masses it separates, and our current storm featured a strong jet stream with winds from the northwest, copious moisture and embedded disturbances.
The strong northwest winds were a key factor in generating the high snowfall totals over our area as moisture-laden air collided with the Park Mountain Range and produced orographic, or terrain-forced precipitation. The Steamboat Ski Resort reported 18” at mid-mountain this morning on top of the 3” reported Wednesday morning, with the upper mountain reporting 20” on top of the 5” yesterday morning.
Additionally, the two SNOTEL remote sensing sites at Tower, near the top of Buffalo Pass north of town, and Rabbit Ears showed very significant increases in the amount of water in our snowpack, with almost seven and three inches of equivalent liquid water respectively reported. Since the snowpack was just above average to start the week, this storm should put our snowpack solidly above average.
The Steamboat mid-mountain powdercam is currently showing about 3” of snow has fallen since the 5 am report, and with precipitation tapering off, 2-4” should be reported on the Friday morning ski report, which would take into account any snow compaction due to settling.
Friday will see a break in the active weather before another storm currently located in the Gulf of Alaska incorporates a chunk of cold western Canadian air as it crosses the Pacific Northwest coast on Friday and moves overhead on Saturday. Snow showers should be going by late Friday night or early Saturday morning, with snowfall intensifying for a time during the day as mountain-top temperatures fall from around 20 F to start the day to low teens to end the day. The speed of the storm and the limited moisture will hamper any big accumulations, but we usually do quite well in storms when the temperatures fall, and I would expect a 4-8” storm total between Friday and Saturday nights.
The coldest temperatures are reserved for Sunday morning behind the storm, with lows around 10 F in town and mid-single digits at the top of Mt. Werner. But temperatures will warm as the sun returns by Sunday afternoon as a building ridge of high pressure over the West Coast moves eastward and towards our area.
More warming and plenty of sun will start the work week as another Pacific storm approaches the West Coast and splits. This may or may not affect our weather later in the work week, but I should know more about that by my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon.
Sunday, January 2, 2022
After a frigid night where the low temperatures observed soon after midnight reached -16 F at the SnowAlarm weather station near the base of the mountain, -13 F at the Bob Adams airport and -11 F near the top of Mt. Werner, bluebird skies and temperatures of 8 F at all elevations are over the Steamboat Springs area this Sunday noon. We should be able to get into the teens today, and the twenties during another sunny day on Monday before clouds overspread our area and winds increase on Tuesday ahead of our next winter storm from Tuesday night through Thursday.
Currently, we are under a transient ridge of high pressure between the departing storm and another one spinning in the Gulf of Alaska. The ridge of high pressure centered over the Dateline is forecast to be undercut early in the work week by both upstream Pacific energy moving eastward and a splitting Gulf of Alaska storm whose northern half moves curiously westward early in the work week.
Ahead of this complicated atmospheric maneuver, a transient ridge of high pressure will move through our area today and Monday, bringing warming temperatures and sunny skies. While we saw low temperatures in the negative teens this morning, we were fortunately spared the coldest forecast temperatures by a cloud deck that moved over our area overnight, insulating the surface and immediately reversing the falling temperatures.
The warming temperatures aloft will strengthen the valley temperature inversion tonight, allowing nighttime lows to fall below zero in town as mountain top temperatures bottom in the positive single digits. So Monday will start warmer, and stay warmer as southwest flow on the backside of the passing ridge of high pressure moves overhead.
While about half of the splitting Gulf of Alaska storm moves oddly westward, the other half is forecast to stretch eastward and combine with the undercutting Pacific flow. The end result is a couple of waves of energy and moisture that will move overhead in our favored northwest flow, with clouds on Tuesday giving way to snow showers by the afternoon and overnight. It does appear that the storm will be windy, with sustained winds of 20-30 mph and gusts to as high as 50 mph during the day Tuesday, but I would expect 2-5” by the Wednesday morning mid-mountain report at the Steamboat Ski Resort.
Temperatures are forecast to warm during the day Wednesday as a shallow ridge of high pressure approaches, but the skies will remain showery and the winds will ramp back up again as another piece of that Gulf of Alaska storm moves toward our area in northwest flow. Some sort of front looks to stall over our area from later Wednesday into Thursday, and if that occurs we could see 2-5” during the day and another 5-10” overnight, for 7-15” on the Thursday morning mid-mountain report, and likely more than that at the top of Mt. Werner.
Snow showers will likely hang on for the rest of Thursday, especially at the higher elevations and taper off by the evening, with another 1-4” of snow possible. It appears there will be a brief break in the snowfall for most of Friday before another wave is forecast to start the weekend, though weather forecast models disagree on the strength and track of that wave.
That disagreement should resolve itself as the work week progresses, so stay tuned to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon where I’ll have a better idea of the snow chances for the weekend.