Back to unsettled weather after a beautiful couple of days

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Bluebird skies and temperatures in the low sixties, on their way toward the seventies, are over the Steamboat Springs area this Thursday noon. While the nice weather hangs around for tomorrow with even warmer temperatures, the weather starts turning unsettled for the weekend with good chances for rain and even snowflakes for the beginning of the work week.

The ridge of high pressure currently over the West is sandwiched between two deep and cold areas of low pressure extending southward from the Gulf of Alaska and Hudson Bay. Another storm moving eastward from the Aleutian Islands will force the Gulf of Alaska storm across Idaho on Friday and into Montana on Saturday. We’ll see another beautiful day tomorrow ahead of the storm with even warmer temperatures than today and some breezy winds from the southwest.

The storm will initially pass north of our area on Saturday, though it will be close enough to drag a cold front through sometime around noon, with high temperatures for the day five or so degrees below our average of 61 F. The front is fairly dry, but there will be a chance of showers around the frontal passage and later in the day.

The storm evolves on Sunday as cold air and energy from the Hudson Bay storm rotates into the storm over Montana and elongates it to the southwest, forming a secondary storm that is forecast to be over the Great Basin on Monday and over our area on Tuesday. Ahead of that secondary storm, expect Sunday afternoon to be similar to Saturday with temperatures in the fifties and a chance of afternoon storms.

Precipitation chances increase substantially by Sunday night and Monday as energy and moisture eject out of the newly-formed Great Basin storm. The cold air originally from the Hudson Bay area begins filtering into our area later Monday, and it may be cold enough for snowflakes in town Monday night, with several inches of snow possible over Rabbit Ears Pass.

Another inch or two is possible during the day Tuesday up there while town will see more good chances for rain as the storm passes overhead. Precipitation should become more showery in the favorable, moist and unstable northwest flow behind the storm by Tuesday afternoon, with some of those showers possibly producing brief but locally moderate to heavy precipitation rates.

We should see some sun by Wednesday with temperatures warming back towards average and a chance of an afternoon storm as the atmosphere slowly dries behind the departing storm.

Weather forecast models agree on more sun and additional warming for Thursday, though disagree on the evolution of that eastward-moving storm originally over the Aleutian Islands. The European ECMWF has the storm strengthening west of our area through the weekend, keeping the nice weather around into the weekend, while the American GFS has the storm quickly moving to our north and grazing our area for a cooler Friday with some showers.

I would expect changes to the weather forecast over the coming days, so stay tuned to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon for more details on the wet and cool weather currently advertised for the beginning of the work week.

Wet and cool start to the work week

Sunday, May 2, 2021

After a spectacular several days with with summer-like temperatures in the mid-seventies, the mercurial spring weather has flipped this Sunday mid-afternoon with rain showers and a temperature of 44 at the Bob Adams airport. While we did briefly enjoy a warm start to the day with a high temperature of 61 F at 1:35 pm, an incoming storm will keep cool and unsettled weather over our area through Wednesday. Warm and dry weather returns for the end of the work week before another storm brings more needed precipitation around or soon after next weekend.

A storm currently stretched from the Great Basin to the Canadian Plains is in the process of splitting, with the southern part of the storm forecast to intensify through Monday as it moves through Colorado. While we saw one cold front pass through early this afternoon with rain showers to about 9500′ in elevation and snow above, another cold front associated with the northern part of the split will pass tonight and lower snow levels further. Additionally, gusty winds from the east will increase overnight and through the morning as moist air is drawn over the Continental Divide and into the storm.

While we will likely see snowflakes down in the Yampa Valley after midnight, snow should be accumulating at pass level and above, and perhaps even briefly on grassy surface in town. There could be 1-4” of snow at and above 9000′ by early morning with another 2-5” that falls during the day, with the highest amounts extending from north of town to the Wyoming border. Travel over Rabbit Ears pass may be difficult at times through this period, especially under the heavier showers.

While precipitation will decrease on Tuesday, or perhaps even end for a time, it is expected to pick back up ahead of another storm passing through later Tuesday and Wednesday. Unlike the first storm, this one will have less moisture but will move past our area in pieces in favorable northwest flow. Most of the snow should fall from Tuesday evening into the night, but showers will continue through the day Wednesday and into the evening. Another 2-5” is possible at and above 9000′ before skies are forecast to clear by Thursday morning and bring warming temperatures back into the sixties for Thursday and possibly seventies by Friday.

Another storm is forecast to cross the Pacific Northwest coast late in the work week before settling into the Great Basin during the weekend while mixing with more cold air from the Canadian Plains. This complex and difficult to forecast storm may bring some cooler weather and showers into our area on Saturday before precipitation starts in earnest as soon as Sunday. And precipitation may continue into the following work week as that storm evolves in the Great Basin. Stay tuned to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon for more details on the weather for next weekend and how wet the following work week may be.

Cold and wet weather returns after several gorgeous days

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Bluebird skies, calm winds and a temperature of 61 F have brought an almost summery feel to the Steamboat Springs area early this Thursday afternoon. This stretch of gorgeous weather lasts into the weekend before we see a change by Sunday to a wet and cool pattern that lasts through midweek.

A ridge of high pressure is currently sitting over the West between a storm in the Gulf of Alaska and a vortex of cold air centered over Hudson Bay. We’ll see high temperatures in the sixties today, five to ten degrees above our average high of 58 F, before temperatures warm into the seventies for Friday and Saturday.

Meanwhile, an eastward-moving and strong storm off the Aleutian Islands is forecast to push the Gulf of Alaska storm eastward as well, with the storm forecast to cross the West Coast on Saturday. Clouds should increase along with some breezes from the west by the afternoon with light rain showers possible by later Saturday and overnight.

The storm is forecast to move through the Great Basin on Sunday and strengthen thanks to a reinforcing chunk of cold air originally from that Hudson Bay vortex. Temperatures will cool toward around average on Sunday along with continued chances for some light morning rain showers followed by increasing chances of heavier showers and steadier rain as the day progresses.

The storm is forecast to undergo a modest split Sunday night which introduces some uncertainty into the weather forecast, but right now a cold front will pass through sometime later Sunday, leading to snow showers at the higher elevations and a rain or rain-snow mix at the lower elevations that will continue through the overnight and Monday and into Tuesday morning.

Travel over Rabbit Ears pass will likely be difficult at times from Sunday night through Tuesday morning, and there may even be some accumulating snowfall in the Yampa Valley by Tuesday morning. The beneficial moisture that eventually falls is sorely needed, and adding to the high elevation snowpack in May is always welcome.

Part of that Aleutian storm is forecast to cross the Pacific Northwest on Monday even as cold air from the North Pole reinvigorates most of the remaining storm over the island chain. There may be a break in the weather over our area during part of Tuesday, or not, as precipitation is forecast to increase again later Tuesday and overnight as the Pacific Northwest storm moves overhead.

The second part of the storm cycle is still evolving in the weather forecast models, so expect changes when I publish my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon. It does appear a ridge of high pressure moves overhead by the end of the work week for at least a brief return to warm and dry weather, though the following weekend may see the effects from that Aleutian storm which is forecast to move into the Gulf of Alaska by midweek and toward the Pacific Northwest coast by the end of the work week.

Wintry storm Tuesday interrupts warm springtime weather

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Temperatures have soared into the sixties under partly sunny skies early on this windy Sunday afternoon in Steamboat Springs. More of the same is expected for Monday before part of a wintry storm passes through later Tuesday and Tuesday night. The sun returns for Wednesday with warming temperatures approaching or even exceeding the vaunted seventy degree mark by the end of the work week and into next weekend.

A ridge of high pressure is currently sitting over most of the U.S. except for a storm just off the northern California coast. The gusty winds from the southwest ahead of the storm will continue to bring warm temperatures ten or so degrees above our average of 57 F to our area for the rest of today and Monday. The storm is forecast to move south through California through Tuesday before grudgingly moving eastward along the Mexican border.

Weather forecast models have trended slower and further south with the storm since my last weather narrative on Thursday, so all of Monday is now expected to be warm and windy, with mostly sunny skies giving way to some clouds by later in the day as some energy and moisture ejects out of the storm to our southwest.

A rain-snow mix at the lower elevations and snow at the higher elevations is in our future for Tuesday, though whether that arrives Tuesday morning or afternoon will be dependent upon the eventual evolution of the storm. There is also uncertainty in regards to how much energy is ejected over our area as the storm splits during the day, but we can expect precipitation to continue through the night and possibly into Wednesday morning, with 2-5” of snow expected at and above mid-mountain. Travel may be difficult over Rabbit Ears pass later Tuesday and overnight as some of this snow may fall at locally moderate to heavy rates at times.

Wednesday should dry out with temperatures rising to around average, along with a chance of an afternoon shower depending upon how much sun we see during the day.

A ridge of high pressure then begins moving over the West by Wednesday and expands to cover most of the U.S through the work week, except for Texas and the Gulf Coast which will see the effects from the main part of the slowly moving storm, and the Northeast.

So expect some clouds on Thursday and warm temperatures around or a bit above average, with even warmer and sunnier weather forecast for Friday, with high temperatures perhaps reaching seventy for the first time this year. And if not Friday, then Saturday as the dry air underneath the ridge of high pressure moves overhead.

Another storm is forecast for around the end of the weekend or the beginning of the next work week, though weather forecast models have trended further north and drier for our area. I’ll have a better idea of what’s in store for us by my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon.

Roller coaster weather continues for the upcoming week

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Peeks of sun are over the Steamboat Springs area on this Thursday mid-afternoon with temperatures of 45 F at the Bob Adams airport and 24 F near the top of Mt. Werner. A small storm passes through on Friday followed by a much warmer weekend with a mix of sun and clouds that may extend through Monday, along with increasing winds from the southwest. Another wintry storm is forecast for Tuesday before warmer temperatures and the mix of sun and clouds return for the rest of the work week.

The complex weather pattern over our area is the result of incoming Pacific energy partially interacting with an expansive vortex of cold air and energy over northern Canada. High temperatures have been ten to fifteen degrees below our average of 56 F since Tuesday, and Friday won’t be much different with the final piece of that complex weather pattern passing over in the afternoon. There is not much moisture associated with this final wave and I would only expect an an inch or two, if that, at mid-mountain and above.

Meanwhile, a powerful storm currently located off the Aleutian Islands is forecast to move eastward and cross the West Coast late in the weekend. Warming behind the departing storm and ahead of the approaching storm will finally drag our Saturday temperatures to around average with a mix of sun and clouds. A piece of energy ejecting out of the approaching storm will move overhead Saturday night with increasing clouds and some breezes but no significant precipitation.

Winds out of the southwest and temperatures increase on Sunday as the main part of the Aleutian storm makes landfall. Depending on the speed of the storm, we may sneak in similar weather for some of Monday before the cold front and snow associated with the storm moves over our area. Tuesday should be cold, though this late in April precipitation may be a cold rain or a rain-snow mix in the Yampa Valley but all snow at the higher elevations.

The warm and dry weather is rapidly forecast to return for the rest of the work week, though another quick–moving storm may pass sometime during the following weekend. And in good news for the precipitation department, another major storm is forecast early in the following work week. Stay tuned to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon when I should have a better idea on the timing and strength of the Tuesday storm.

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