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Snow showers give way to another round of persistent snowfall

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Snow showers are currently ongoing up on the hill, though accumulations are very light. A moist wave in northwest flow increase the intensity a bit this evening, but only 1-4” are expected by Wednesday morning. However, another long-duration event is forecast to begin later in the day and will keep snows going through the early part of the weekend.

Snow showers will give way to more persistent snows in the afternoon or early evening tomorrow as another surge of moisture is carried over our area in generally northwest by the very moist polar jet stream. Temperatures are again expected to be warm, especially before atmospheric cooling increases early Thursday. I would expect 2-6” by Thursday morning, but periods of moderate to heavy snow during the day and night as an embedded wave approaches Thursday and passes through the area by early Friday. About 6-12” of snow are expected by Friday morning before snows decrease early in the day. However, they will ramp up again later in the day as yet another wave grazes our area that evening.

We may receive another 4-8” by Saturday morning at which point a transient ridge moves overhead, perhaps even revealing some sun. A very fast moving wave may again yield some snow showers by Sunday, but accumulation are expected to be light.

We should have a beautiful couple of days early in the workweek before another approaching storm makes landfall along the west coast around the middle of the week. This storm will be different than the previous two as southwest flow develops ahead of this digging system. Lot of uncertainty with this storm, but it may significantly affect our weather near the end of the workweek.

Outstanding skiing this afternoon

Monday, February 10, 2014

Yesterday was great and today was better as I measured about 7” around 2pm this afternoon covering my tracks from yesterday. Snow pellets or snow grains, which look like ‘dipping dots’ were falling out of the sky when I was up there, and created a fantastic medium to ski in.

And I mean ski IN as it was very easy to control the depth of the turn by the amount of pressure placed upon the ski. This was high density snowfall again as the temperature at the top was near 20F, but it was supremely consistent and could provide significant resistance if you dug deep. The end result is you could confidently charge very steep and narrow lines in complete control; in fact it often felt like slow-motion skiing as my skis traveled through the snow. And this was accompanied by the sound of the flying snow pellets thrown up by the turn bouncing off my outerwear, which added another dimension to the solitude of powder skiing in the empty trees.

Pretty much the entire Priest Creek area from Shadows over to Rolex had tons of untracked snow and skied similarly. Same goes for the Hurricane trees on my way over to the Why Not trees. The snow there on the lower mountain was heavier than up top, but the untracked snow still skied great.

Shocking turn in conditions

Sunday, February 9, 2014

It seems I’ve been better at predicting snow amounts than snow quality these last 3 days! Yesterday and the day before most of where I skied was very wind-affected and inconsistent. We received similar snow amounts today as compared to those days, and I guessed the conditions would be similar, but the wind did not do the damage today that it did in the previous two days.

And in the case of the Sundown lifline, the wind burnished the powder into a soft and creamy surface that was a joy to ski. It seemed like lots of people had given up on the skiing today as there were fresh lines in all of the usual places, like Shadows, Lower Shadows, Twilight and the Rolex trees.  Not waist-deep snow by any means, but a soft pliable surface that was bouncy and easy to spread. Even the heavier but still untracked snow over in the Why Not trees of the lower mountain skied great.

Today was, by far, the the best day of this storm cycle and it’s still snowing as the penultimate wave moves by. With some cool air moving in for tomorrow, I have high hopes that tomorrow will be even better, my current guesses about snow quality for this storm cycle notwithstanding!

Best snow still expected tonight into tomorrow

Temperatures have warmed as forecast, and I had 3” of wet and heavy snow on my deck this morning, though most of that fell last evening before midnight. The Steamboat ski area reported 7” mid / 6” top at 5am, with 4” of that coming yesterday. As of 11am, only an additional 1” was reported at mid mountain, though some sort of light precipitation is still falling on the hill.

As I mentioned in the last forecast blog, I still don’t expect better quality snow until tonight when the atmosphere finally sees some cooling ahead of a well defined wave that passes over the area on Monday. There is not a lot of cool air associated with this wave, and temperatures are again expected to oscillate around the its arrival, but I would expect 4-8” to be reported by Monday morning with an additional 4-8” by Tuesday morning, with most of that occurring during the day Monday.

Snow looks to mostly end by Tuesday morning, though light showers may reoccur on the hill by the afternoon. Temperatures will warm again on Wednesday in advance of another possible long-duration event beginning later in the day. As in the last storm cycle, this event is forced by a warm and moist polar jet heavily modified by subtropical moisture and warmth. I would expect similar results to this storm, with Thursday and Friday being warm and windy with snow before some cooling occurs later Friday or early Saturday. Snows look to continue through most of Saturday before a quick moving ridge warms temperatures further by the end of the weekend.

Weather then turns dry for a few days before there is general model agreement of a storm for around midweek.

Warm and windy with significant snows likely holding off till Sunday night

Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Steamboat ski area reported 3” mid and 3.5” top at the 11am update, and I see light snow on the upper mountain looking out my window. This weather pattern continues to make the forecast difficult for Steamboat as atmospheric temperatures are expected to stay mostly static or slightly warm until Sunday evening when some cool air finally works into the area. I’m inclined to dismiss what I consider the wildly optimistic Denver forecast of 22-36” by Sunday night for the Gore range and side closer to the saner 16-20” forecast for the Park range by Monday afternoon from the Grand Junction office.

We will get some snow in this pattern, but it will be heavy and wind-affected. And if valley temperatures rise much further, which they are forecast to do, we may even see the ‘R’ word (rain) down here by tomorrow. Since about 3” has already been reported, I would expect 4-8” to be reported by tomorrow morning. While light snow will continue during the day Sunday on the mountain, moderate to heavy snow will likely accompany the front bringing the cooler air into the region Sunday evening.

Snows will continue Monday and taper off by Tuesday morning. I would expect 6-12” by Monday morning, with an additional 3-6” reported by Tuesday morning.

Temperature will warm again by Tuesday afternoon ahead of the next wave currently timed for midweek. There is model disagreement with respect to the strength of this wave so snowfall amounts are uncertain at this time. The moist and relatively warm polar jet is forecast to continue over out area through the workweek and into the weekend keeping warm and unsettled weather over the region.

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