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Closing day powder day still on track

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The interesting storm advertised earlier this week looks to be a significant snow maker for much of Colorado Sunday. A cold front currently draped across central Montana has entrained some cold air from the Hudson Bay vortex and is forecast to move across our area early tomorrow morning, probably around report time. There may be showers ahead of the front after midnight, but the bulk of our snow will come with and behind the front. There might be an inch or two on the morning report, but moderate to localized heavy snows should be occurring in rapidly falling temperatures by sometime in the early morning and continuing until sunset before tapering off and ending around midnight.

I would expect to be skiing in 4-8” of powder by the time the lifts stop spinning for our season tomorrow afternoon, though only some of that will be reflected on the official noon report. Probably another 2-4” on top of that after lifts close would make for great skiing on Monday were it not our first closed day.

A chilly start for Monday that will make the day feel cool, though temperatures are forecast to rise in the beautiful sunny weather that lasts until Tuesday. Models are once again in disagreement as to the strength of a storm forecast for Wednesday. The American GFS model insists on another significant snowstorm lasting through Thursday while the European ECMWF has a much flatter and faster moving storm. Interestingly, the GFS entrains another lobe of cold air from the Hudson Bay vortex while the ECMWF is less generous with that interaction. I would guess the Wednesday storm will behave similarly to tomorrow’s storm and would lean towards the GFS forecast.

Nonetheless, skies should be clear by Friday for a return of spring weather. Current forecasts have storms moving well north and south of us for the weekend, leaving us in very pleasant weather.

Storms return for closing day and then midweek

Thursday, April 10, 2014

After beautiful almost summer-like weather, our very active spring reasserts itself with storms timed for closing day on Sunday and midweek. Similar to yesterday, there may be some showers this afternoon that will enhance gusty winds, though no accumulations are expected.

Friday will be warmer and drier, and Saturday will start similarly, though changes are afoot by the afternoon in advance of a complicated and interesting storm system. A low off the southern California coast affects our area by Saturday afternoon with a another round of afternoon convection. Concurrently, a lobe of energy from the still present Hudson Bay vortex will phase with some cold air from the Siberian vortex over western Canada and bring a strong cold front into our area late Saturday night or early Sunday morning.

There is disagreement among the models as to the western extent of this storm, but the possibility exists for significant snowfall during the day and perhaps the evening as well before the storm moves east of our area by Monday morning. Snowfall forecasts will have to wait until model uncertaintly is resolved.

A transient ridge will bring spring-like weather back to our area by later Monday and Tuesday before another storm affects our area starting Wednesday. The American GFS model has the storm closing off and stalling over Colorado as another lobe of energy from the Hudson Bay vortex brings cool air into this system. Conversely, the European ECMWF model does not show this interaction and keeps the storm fast-moving and weak.

Both models show additional energy for the end of next workweek that will keep the weather active. Bases will likely continue to build through at least next week, and it’s a shame that the Steamboat ski area does not consider extending their season like many of the surrounding resorts. Lifts could be limited to the gondola, Storm Peak Express and Elkhead, with Burgess Creek being a convenient addition, but not necessary. Credibility as a skier’s mountain could only help Steamboat’s marketing efforts, not to mention the increase in seasonal snowfall averages.

Unsettled weekend with significant snow for Monday followed by our first week of true spring weather

Friday, April 4, 2014

After a beautiful morning today, the atmosphere moistens and destabilizes ahead of a splitting trough just entering the west coast. Clouds should increase today and there may be some showers near the end of the day.

Most of the cool air will be shunted to our north as the trough splits, so precipitation will likely fall as rain or a rain / snow mix at lower elevations and snow higher up on the hill. Showers will likely redevelop early Saturday and grow heavier and more numerous in the afternoon, though accumulations will likely remain light and localized before decreasing after sunset.

Sunday will also be unsettled, though a productive cool and moist trailing wave from the northwest will influence our area by the afternoon. Showers will be much heavier than today and Saturday by Sunday afternoon, and there will likely be accumulations on the hill by the end of they day.

Snows will increase after sunset Sunday and become moderate to heavy by midnight as cooler air is dragged across the region. Though this is a quick moving wave, we should see 4-8” by Monday morning with the possibility of some Steamboat magic after the report.

Showers will taper off through Monday, with periods of sun, especially in the valley. Winter-weary people will welcome the strongly warming temperatures and beautiful spring weather starting Tuesday and likely lasting through much of the workweek. Thursday may be a bit cooler and cloudier as models have a Pacific wave battling the ridge over our area and eventually passing to our north.

The result of this battle may allow additional Pacific energy to influence our area for closing weekend, though there is model disagreement on how this may happen.

Light showers as Saturday progresses for Cody’s Challenge

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Saturday will likely be a typical unsettled spring day ahead of a splitting trough that is forecast to enter the west coast on Friday. The northern part of the trough looks to carry most of the cold air north of our area while the southern part will keep the atmosphere moist and unstable. The relatively warm spring temperatures will help showers develop early Saturday and continue through the day, with a rain / now mix at lower elevations and snow at the higher elevations. Though there may be periods of sun between showers, I expect the showers to grow heavier and more numerous in the afternoon, though accumulations will wait until the evening when the trough moves over the area.

Snows continue through Monday with a break Friday

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

I had 3” on my deck this morning at 9 am, and the Steamboat ski area reported 2” mid / 3” top at 5 am. As of the 11 am update, they are reporting an additional 3” mid and 5” top. We had some Steamboat magic up top between 4 am and 7 am as 4” of snow fell in those 3 hours, with 2.5” falling between 4 am and 5 am!

The current complex storm will continue to produce snow for the mountain through tomorrow, though there may be a mix at the base during the afternoons. We can expect continued showers during the day before some cool air moves over the area after sunset today and increases snowfall rates for the night. Considering that 3” has already fallen at mid-mountain after the morning report, I would expect 5-10” to be reported tomorrow morning, especially if we get another round of Steamboat magic early tomorrow. Furthermore, some lightening has already been observed to our west, and we may have some of that this evening.

Snows will become more showery in nature as tomorrow progresses, though they may produce brief and localized moderate to heavy snowfall rates, similar to yesterday afternoon and likely this afternoon. Snows will end by midnight after leaving 1-4”, and skies will clear as a transient ridge moves over Friday. Though the day will start cool, though temperatures will quickly warm and showers will likely redevelop Friday afternoon.

Another trough quickly follows the ridging Friday to start snows up again Saturday morning, with showers growing heavier as some cool air enters our area around sunset Saturday. This trough is forecast to undergo some splitting, though future model runs should acquire a better handle on to what degree this occurs. Regardless, there should be some significant accumulations by Sunday morning, perhaps in the 3-7” range.

The slow moving trough will keep showers going through Sunday, though a trailing wave with a fair bit of cool air looks to reinvigorate snows beginning later Sunday, perhaps around sunset. We should do quite well from this trailing wave as it is embedded within northwest flow, and I would expect another 5-10” by Monday morning with an additional 1-4” during the day.

Finally, and for those looking for some sun, models forecast a large and strong ridge to move over the area starting Tuesday and likely lasting for the majority of the remaining workweek. Temperatures will be unseasonably warm and the weather will feel like late spring. There appears to be more energy in the Pacific behind this ridge, though models currently disagree on how this energy interacts with the ridge. Nonetheless, the active spring pattern looks to continue after then.

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