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Nice weekend ahead of early-week storm

Friday, March 3, 2017

A transient ridge over the Western U.S. has brought beautiful weather to the Intermountain West and the Steamboat Springs area. Cold air moving down the east side of the resurgent Bering Sea ridge has formed another cold storm in the Gulf of Alaska. Similar to previous storms, this is predicted to slide southward along the West Coast before moving across the Great Basin on Sunday, bringing winter weather back to the West late in the weekend through early in the work week.

Temperatures will continue to warm tomorrow ahead of the storm as winds increase from the southwest and clouds begin to overspread the area. This trend continues on Sunday with winds increasing further, and energy ejecting from the storm will increase the chance of showers by later Sunday.

There is model disagreement with respect to the timing, but a strong cold front looks to move across the area late Sunday or Monday accompanied with a burst of accumulating snowfall. Snow showers look to continue behind the front in the cold and unstable northwest flow, though at this point the best moisture is forecast to quickly erode behind the front, limiting total snowfall. Anticipated snowfall amounts will almost surely change as we get closer to the event, but 4-8” is a reasonable guess by Monday afternoon.

A trailing wave late Monday or early Tuesday reinforces the cold air and restarts the snow showers that will be most numerous overnight and during the first half Tuesday.

Warming and drying will occur midweek for a day or two as another transient ridge moves over the West. However, there is considerable uncertainty after that as models are very inconsistent in handling additional energy moving down the east side of the Bering Sea ridge and how much of that energy interacts with Pacific energy undercutting the ridge.

The Bering Sea ridge was observed during the first half of our winter, and I am encouraged to see it reappear as we received good snowfall from that pattern. While the specifics are murky at best, I am hopeful we will see another active weather regime as spring approaches.

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