Update on the storm

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The complex storm spinning off the West Coast will still affect the Steamboat Springs area weather in pieces, though a larger piece is now forecast for Thursday. We will still see the possibility for high elevations snow showers and low elevation rain showers overnight tonight as one piece of ejecting energy skirts to our northwest, though accumulations look meager at best.

But a stronger piece of the storm will affect our area later Thursday with a weak cool front, which is a change from my last forecast. Timing is still uncertain, though Thursday afternoon or evening is currently forecast, and precipitation should turn to snow in the Yampa Valley when the front passes.

As we are entering the spring months, the sun is higher in the sky and warms the surface more strongly than in the winter months. The warmer surface temperatures combined with the forecast cool front may allow the precipitation to organize in cells, similar to summertime afternoon thunderstorms, and this means spottier precipitation, with some areas receiving more and adjacent areas less.

All of this makes forecasting snow amounts difficult, but 2-5” by the Friday morning report is a good guess.

We still see a break for later Friday and at least part of Saturday with warming temperatures before the last piece of the storm approaches later Saturday. The American GFS is faster than the European ECMWF, bringing the possibility of high elevation snow showers and low elevation rain showers into our area as soon as Saturday afternoon.

This last piece of the storm will be the strongest and coldest, bringing a moderate cold front through the area Saturday night or Sunday. The snow will be heaviest along and just behind the front, with snow showers waxing and waning through Sunday and continuing during the day Monday in cool temperatures and northwest flow, as some trailing energy passes over our area.

I expect significant accumulations for Sunday and Monday, with storm totals over those two days in the 6-12” range.

Tuesday will offer a break before a warmer storm approaches our area around Wednesday.

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