Monday, January 30, 2017
A ridge of high pressure that has brought warming temperatures and sunny skies to the Steamboat Springs area will flatten over the next few days as northern Pacific energy combines with energy rotating around a developing Hudson Bay vortex. Winds will continue to increase on Tuesday, mixing and warming the low-elevation airmass and weakening or breaking the temperature inversion.
Moisture associated with the Pacific energy looks to bring clouds to the area later Tuesday with light snow showers possible overnight and into Wednesday, though the American GFS model is more bullish on that idea than the European ECMWF model.
A transient ridge will quickly pass over the area on Thursday, bringing some sun and warming the temperatures from Wednesday.
A very complicated pattern then develops off the West Coast as the Bering Sea ridge, which was observed earlier in the season, rebuilds and directs cold air from Siberia and western Canada into the Gulf of Alaska as Pacific energy is routed underneath. Some of this cold air will mix with a strong storm between Hawaii and the U.S. mainland before the storm begins affecting the West Coast by early Thursday.
Some energy is ejected out ahead of this storm and combines with some cool air from western Canada, again bringing the possibility of light snow showers to our area for Thursday night into Friday morning.
Unsurprisingly with such a complicated pattern, there is model disagreement about the strength of the Pacific storm as it crosses the West Coast on Friday, travels across the Great Basin overnight and brings snow to northern Colorado on Saturday. The more bullish American GFS indicates snowfall amounts in the 4-8” range by the Sunday morning report while the European ECMWF is quite a bit drier.
Pacific energy is forecast to continue to impinge upon the West Coast after the weekend, and we may get some sort of storm through the area early in the next work week, but model disagreement over the weekend decreases confidence in the details of that storm.