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Last very cold wave ends the current storm cycle before another begins Sunday

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Another 5” of snow on my deck this morning, 10.5” at mid-mountain at 5am and about 3” additional as of 11am, slightly higher than 10-20” of snow I predicted on the hill by Wednesday morning in the Monday forecast. The last wave in this storm cycle will move over the Steamboat Springs area tonight and early tomorrow with the coldest temperatures of the season observed tomorrow. Ironically, the cold temperatures may lead to an increase in snow density as the snow crystal habit transitions from the familiar and space-taking dendrites to space-conserving columns at temperatures below 0F or so.

Nonetheless, I expect 6-12” of new snow to be reported tomorrow morning on top of the 22” in the past 2 days. Depending upon the timing of the last wave, snow may continue in the morning, leaving an additional 2-4” by noon and the possibility of some Steamboat Magic between the 5am report and the mountain opening.

Snow should actually stop by Thursday afternoon as some upper-level warming moves over the area, though a slug of moisture moving through the warming and stabilizing airmass might produce some snow showers for the first half of Friday, possibly leaving another inch or two to be reported Saturday morning.

Saturday may be our only snow-free day in 2 weeks as a quick moving wave passes over the Steamboat Springs area Sunday. The forecast calls for snow increasing until about noon Sunday before tapering off in the afternoon, leaving 3-6” that will be reported Monday morning.

After a brief break, the snow machine cranks up again with a long-duration event starting during the day Monday. The ideal scenario of moist and cool northwest flow containing numerous waves is forecast to be over our area from Monday though Wednesday, possibly leaving around a foot or more of fresh for both Tuesday and Wednesday mornings with periods of moderate and heavy snow through the entire time.

A break in snowfall is then predicted heading into and including Christmas day before another major storm threatens our area around the following weekend.

Snow has started falling as the next major storm approaches

Monday, December 14, 2015

It is currently snowing as the next storm begins to affect the Steamboat Springs area. Snows will become heavy overnight as the strong storm moves over Colorado, leaving 6-12” for the Tuesday morning report.

Snows will continue in the cold and moist northwest flow Tuesday and Wednesday with the possibility of a TROWAL forming tomorrow morning, possibly keeping heavy snows going through the early part of the day before the storm moves east of the area by the afternoon. Additional accumulations may be in the 4-8” range by Wednesday morning leaving 10-20” from this event.

Snow will diminish but likely not end Wednesday before a trailing wave in the northwest flow increases very low-density snowfall by Wednesday night into Thursday morning, possibly leaving another 4-8” by the Thursday morning report depending on the actual timing of this wave. After another several inches on the Friday morning report, the atmosphere is expected to stabilize during the day Friday as it warms, ending this storm cycle and ushering in a drier and much warmer couple of days for the beginning of the weekend.

Another quick-moving storm is forecast for late in the weekend or early in Christmas week, followed by a short break and possibly another major storm around midweek just before the Christmas holiday.

Persistent snows today through tomorrow and again through the next work week

Friday, December 11, 2015

There are now about 5” of snow at the top of the Steamboat Ski area with about 3.5” on my deck. Most of that fell between 5 am and 9 am this morning, leading to average snowfall rates of over an inch per hour up top for our first dose of Steamboat Magic this morning.

The cool air came in a bit quicker than I forecast on Wednesday, and the storm has slowed considerably as well, placing Steamboat Springs very close to the almost stationary frontal boundary. Additional waves look to eject from the parent system over the Great Basin today and tonight, keeping the snowfall going overnight as they move over this front.

Considering that snowfall is forecast to become moderate to heavy at times around mid-evening to midnight tonight for several hours, I would now expect 8-14 inches to be reported in the Saturday morning report. Another 3-6” will likely fall during the day tomorrow and be reported Sunday morning as there is now evidence of moist and cool northwest flow around the parent low as it forms a closed circulation to our south.

Snows will decrease or may even stop Saturday night into Sunday night before another similar storm begins snowfall over the Steamboat Springs area by Monday morning. I expect moderate to heavy snows by Monday afternoon and continuing overnight as the coldest air of the season pours into the area, leaving 6-12” on the Tuesday morning report.

Snows will continue in the cold and moist northwest flow Tuesday and Wednesday with additional accumulations before a trailing wave in the northwest flow increases very low-density snowfall by Wednesday night. The atmosphere is expected to stabilize by Thursday afternoon as it warms, ending this storm cycle and ushering in a drier and much warmer couple of days for Friday and Saturday.

Another dynamic storm is forecast for late in the weekend or early the following work week, though there is now considerable model disagreement as the European ECMWF closes off the storm in southern California by Monday while the American GFS has it moving over our area by Monday morning.

Cold and snowy pattern starts Friday

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

After a weak wave passed through the Steamboat Springs area this morning, snow showers will end later today before some warming and drying is observed tomorrow. Another weak wave skirts our area early Thursday, likely leading to similar weather that we have today.

As this wave moves east of our area, a strong Pacific jet stream impacts the West Coast on Thursday and incorporates some cold air from the Gulf of Alaska. This storm is forecast to be a significant weather maker as it moves first southward along the coast and then eastward into the Great Basin. Winds will back to the southwest and increase again during the day Thursday as the storm approaches the area.

Pieces of energy are forecast to eject form the storm as early as Friday morning, bringing precipitation to Steamboat Springs during the day Friday. Temperatures will be mild ahead of the storm until the cold front passes sometime on Friday, leading to the possibility of rain or mixed precipitation at the lower elevations until colder air filters into the region.

Snows will increase during the day Friday, likely becoming moderate or heavy at times around Friday afternoon. Mountain-top winds stay southwesterly during this part of the storm, limiting the snowfall to be reported Saturday morning to 3-6”.

Cold air will pour into Colorado during the day Saturday as the storm moves over the area, keeping snow showers with light accumulations going through the day. But snows should pick up again by Saturday night as the winds finally turn to our favored northwest directions and a weak wave moves over the area early in the day on Sunday, leaving 1-4” for the Sunday morning report.

Warming behind this wave will limit snowfall later in the day Sunday and into Monday morning before another storm, very similar to Friday, approaches the area and increases snowfall by Monday afternoon. Again, there may be mixed precipitation late Sunday or early Monday before another wave of even colder air is forecast to wash over the area. Winds look to turn northwesterly by Monday night, and cold temperatures with moderate to sometimes heavy snow are forecast to occur overnight and through the day Tuesday.

Models indicate the possibility of another wave in northwest flow around Wednesday, with snow forecast to briefly increase again into Thursday morning. There may be a break in the snowfall near the end of next week before additional storms may threaten the area around the next weekend.

Passing waves timed for Saturday, Monday and Tuesday

Thursday, December 3, 2015

The current warm and sunny conditions will last through tomorrow for the Steamboat Springs area before a quick-moving and moisture-starved storm crosses Colorado on Saturday. I expect only light snow during the day Saturday as the storm brings cooler temperatures, with a storm total of only an inch or two to be reported Sunday morning.

A weaker and drier wave moves across the area on Monday with no precipitation expected, though we have a better chance for light snow on Tuesday as another wave moves over the area.

The active Pacific jet stream continues as a series of waves are forecast to affect the area starting as soon as Thursday. Only light snow showers are forecast with the leading wave around Thursday, but a much colder and wetter wave is timed for the weekend.

There is model uncertainty on what happens behind this weekend storm, with the American GFS moving several waves of likely significant snow through the area until about Tuesday, while the European ECMWF keeps the storm more coherent. While the details are subject to change, confidence in a pattern change to colder and snowier weather around next weekend is increasing.

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