Three storms bring precipitation back to the region starting Thursday
Monday, March 20, 2017
The near-record temperatures of the last week have moderated today as mid and high level clouds in advance of the next West Coast storm overspread the Steamboat Springs area early this afternoon. The dry lower levels of the atmosphere precluded any precipitation from reaching the ground, and this pattern will remain more or less intact for Tuesday, Wednesday and most of Thursday.
The majority of the West Coast storm is forecast to make landfall in central to southern California later Wednesday and move eastward across the desert southwest on Thursday. Models are still struggling with the storm speed and structure, but it appears that precipitation will start as rain below 9000′ or so by Thursday afternoon or night in southerly flow.
The storm crosses the Rockies Thursday night or early Friday morning as it moves east in proximity of the Colorado - New Mexico border. Winds will turn northerly, though at this point it is not clear if there will be a westerly or even an easterly component, depending on the intensity of the storm as it moves east of our area.
This storm has the potential to leave 5-10” of snow above 9000′ by the time it winds down Friday afternoon, with some snow down to the valley floor by Friday morning as the coldest air associated with the storm arrives.
Brief ridging for the first half of the weekend is likely ahead of the second storm which is forecast to move similarly to the first, though slightly further north. After it makes landfall late Saturday, it moves across the desert southwest overnight and affects our weather from around Sunday afternoon through Tuesday, with precipitation starting as rain again below 9000′ or so. The snow level will drop overnight Sunday, though it may not reach the valley floor until Monday night when the coolest air arrives.
The third storm moves southeastward form the Gulf of Alaska and crosses the West Coast on Sunday. This storm will be colder but not as wet due to its more northern origins, and may briefly form a cutoff low in the desert southwest by Monday. This is normally not advantageous for us, but energy ejected out ahead of this third storm will combine with the departing second storm and keep possibly significant snows down the the valley floor for most of Tuesday.
Another break in the weather is forecast for the rest of the next work week before another storm in this well-advertised active pattern brings the possibility of more snow for the first weekend of April.