Monday, December 19, 2016
The Steamboat Springs area will see some warming on Tuesday that will be most pronounced at higher elevations as a temperature inversion at the lower elevations (where temperatures increase rather than decrease with height) keeps the valley cool. An unimpressive wave in fast westerly flow traverses the northern Rockies by Wednesday and drags the southern end of a cool front through northern Colorado around Wednesday morning. I expect there will be some snow, though amounts will likely be less than an inch or two through the day.
The sun will return for Thursday before an intensifying storm moving through the Gulf of Alaska forces a closed low currently west of Baja eastward, with forecasts keeping the storm track south of Colorado and bringing precipitation to Arizona and New Mexico Thursday and Friday.
The moisture from the southern storm is forecast to stay mostly south of our area on Friday for another mostly sunny day before windy southwesterly flow ahead of the incoming Gulf of Alaska storm drags some lingering high-level moisture from the old Baja storm northeastward, bringing clouds and noticeably warmer temperatures by later Friday and Saturday.
There is uncertainty with the timing, but according to the faster American GFS, the Gulf of Alaska storm makes landfall around California late Friday and crosses the Great Basin early Saturday, bringing a strong cold front with rapidly falling temperatures through Colorado around Christmas Eve. Though details are likely to change this week, it looks like a 6-12” of snow may fall by the Christmas Day morning report, with additional lighter accumulations during Sunday in the cold, moist and unstable northwest flow behind the storm.
Snow showers may linger for the rest of Christmas Day night before ending on Monday, followed by drying and warming that will last through Tuesday.