Sunday, January 22, 2017
A large and powerful storm currently located off the Pacific Northwest coast is pounding the California mountains with heavy precipitation and will bring snow showers to the Continental Divide this evening. The main part of the storm will arrive early Monday, likely just after report time, so I expect 1-4”of snow on the Monday morning report.
But snows should increase in the morning with breezy to windy southwest winds. Snow amounts are always difficult to forecast under these conditions as the heaviest snowfall often occurs in bands, and model disagreement is making the forecast even tougher.
Coincidentally, a closed low forms in southern Idaho and travels north of the Steamboat Springs area later in the day Monday and overnight, and the exact path of this closed low will also affect snow amounts. A cold front associated with this closed low also passes through our area Monday evening, increasing snowfall rates and bringing the cold air that will be with us for the rest of the work week.
There is model disagreement with respect to how far north this closed low forms, and some solutions have good snow overnight and through Tuesday, while others keep Steamboat Springs drier as precipitation occurs north and south of us.
At this point, I would side with the more optimistic model forecast as we do have good cooling and unstable and moist northwest flow behind the front, similar to but stronger than the just-passed storm that left 9” at mid-mountain and a foot up top. I hope to see 6-12” of snow on the Tuesday morning report, with the first part of that likely being wind affected during the day Monday followed by colder and fluffier snow after the cold front passes.
Tuesday is another tough forecast day due to substantial model disagreement, but again I like the more aggressive solution which could bring another 5-10” of very light and fluffy low-density snow during the day Tuesday and overnight, which will be reported on Wednesday morning.
Additional energy moving southward keeps still fluffy snow going for Wednesday into Thursday, with another 3-6” expected on the Thursday morning report.
Another lobe of energy may pass over our area later Thursday into Friday morning, so light snow showers might not completely end before Friday afternoon.
It does look like this cold and snowy week will be followed by a building West Coast ridge which should bring warmer and drier weather at some point this weekend, at least for the mountain slopes as temperature inversions will keep the valleys cool after any cloud-free nights.