Shifted storm track brings more snow for Thursday

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The shift in the North American weather pattern discussed in my last Sunday forecast has allowed the storm track to grace the Steamboat Springs area this work week. After the foot of snow on Tuesday, more is expected tonight and tomorrow as some leftover energy from the Tuesday storm, currently vacationing and moistening off the coast of southern California, is ejected over our area by another incoming Pacific storm traveling across the Gulf of Alaska. The incoming Pacific storm will mix with some cold air from western Canada and bring cooling temperatures to our area starting tonight that will become seasonably cold by Thursday night.

The end result is the light snow showers today will become moderate to heavy after midnight as the southern California storm and the Gulf of Alaska storm interact and move sequentially over our area. While areas north of Steamboat Springs will be more favored, we should do quite well as we have moisture and strong forcing from the storms. Snowfall rates over an inch per hour are possible at times, with another round of Steamboat Magic likely bringing significant snows between report time and ski time. I’ll guess 3-6” of snow for the morning report, with another 3-6” possible between the report and noon, and another 2-5” for the remainder of the storm, which¬†winds down by Thursday night.

However, the moderate winds are forecast to be westerly for a large part of the storm, and those that ski the Steamboat Ski Area know that our snow quality can be adversely affected by westerly winds due to the largely western aspect of Mt. Werner. Northwest flow is forecast for late in the storm and late in the day Thursday, but when the moisture is decreasing, and this will limit the accumulations of the lightest and fluffiest snow on the backside of the storm.

The cold temperatures forecast for Thursday night and Friday morning will moderate Friday afternoon behind the departing storm with the sun making a brief appearance. But another storm quickly follows and is forecast to graze our area from Friday night through Saturday morning, sparking sporadic and light snow showers.

Meanwhile, a much larger and colder storm travels through the Gulf of Alaska over the President’s Day weekend and again mixes with very cold western Canadian air. We may see some sun and mild temperatures on Sunday ahead of this storm, which travels southward along the West Coast before moving inland around Monday.

There is uncertainty with respect to how quickly this storm moves inland, but it appears another stationary front may form somewhere near our area around Monday or Tuesday, leading to the possibility of more significant snows early in the work week before unseasonably cold air is forecast to wash over the western states behind the storm.

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