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Snow chances wait until next weekend

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Please resume your snow dances and sacrifices! You did great leading up to last weekend, when 32” of mid-mountain snow fell at the Steamboat Ski Area, but the holiday season must have distracted you, and now we are left with only dry weather through much of the next week.

The weather pattern over the continental U.S. is currently dominated by cold air over the eastern two thirds of the country and a ridge of high pressure over the West Coast. Think of it like a giant see-saw, and it appears that stormy weather will not return to the west until the cold air in the east is dislodged. There are indications that this pattern may change around next weekend as incoming Pacific energy battles the West Coast ridge.

Until this battle ensues, mostly sunny skies and dry weather will dominate Colorado, with cool mornings in the Yampa Valley as temperature inversions (where temperature increases with altitude) are encouraged by the existing snow cover, a low sun angle and clear nights. The weak storm for New Year’s Day discussed in the last Thursday forecast has slowed and dried, and is now expected to bring only clouds for Monday night and slightly cooler and seasonable temperatures for a mostly sunny Tuesday.

Another weaker and drier storm further to our northeast will bring reinforce the slightly cooler temperatures on a still mostly sunny Wednesday.

By late Wednesday or early Thursday, Pacific energy breaks through part of the West Coast ridge and brings some precipitation to the West Coast. The major disagreement among the weather forecast models centers around how much cold air from the north, if any, mixes with the incoming Pacific energy.

Right now, our mostly sunny work week weather looks to end around Friday, and there is even a small chance of likely insignificant snow showers. After a small break, accumulating snow becomes far more likely around mid-weekend as part of the West Coast ridge translates across the country and eventually dislodges the cold air over the eastern U.S.

The evolution of this predicted pattern change will no doubt change over the coming week, and I hope to have a better handle on it for my Thursday forecast.

The cold mornings may lead to cold toes. I’ve used the awesome Hotronic foot warmers from their beginnings, and can honestly say that each iteration of the product is better than the last. I have the S4 custom, attached to my powerstrap so they never fall off, and my toes stay warm for my entire ski day.

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21 June 2019

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