Friday, February 17, 2017
A storm from the central Pacific that is currently inundating California will split as it crosses the West Coast on Saturday. Some energy ejecting out ahead of the storm will bring the chance of light showers to the Steamboat Springs area tonight and again later Saturday, but the bulk of the storm will stay south of our area.
A trailing wave of energy strengthens the northern part of the split later Sunday and brings some cool air and the best chance of accumulating snowfall through Monday morning. Due to the split flow and additional upstream energy, the snowfall forecast for Monday morning is uncertain, but at this point I would expect 4-8” for the President’s Day report as there is some cool, moist and unstable northwest flow for a time.
Unsettled weather will persist after a brief clearing later Monday behind the cool front as waves in the relatively warm Pacific airmass move over the area on Tuesday and early Wednesday.
Meanwhile, a central Pacific ridge builds somewhere around the Bering Sea and the Gulf of Alaska, similar to patterns observed earlier in this winter season. Cold air from Siberia and the North Pole is forecast to slide southward along the east side of this ridge and begin a likely long-duration winter storm event starting later Wednesday and lasting into the weekend.
The specifics are highly uncertain as some of the cold air is forecast to move southwestward underneath the eastern Pacific ridge and merge with the branch of the Pacific jet stream that undercuts this ridge. If this pattern evolves similar to the pattern observed earlier in the season, which seems likely, then significant snows are possible as the moist Pacific jet stream once again battles the cold air from the northern latitudes over the western states. Current long-term forecasts have March arriving like a lion as this active period looks to last through at least the first week of March.