Thursday, April 27, 2017
A broad upper level trough extending across almost the entire continental U.S. has brought a series of strong spring storms across the Steamboat Springs area this week. The last wave in this series is currently traveling southeastward through the Great Basin and will form a strong closed low around the Four Corners region by Friday night.
The track of the storm will carry most of the weather to our south on Friday and east along the Front Range by later Friday and Saturday, but cold, moist and unstable northerly to northwesterly flow will keep snow showers going on Friday. These will be capable of producing localized moderate to heavy precipitation, especially in the afternoon.
Showers will diminish through Saturday, ending by sunset, in still cool temperatures. There is some dry air lurking to our north, and if it makes it over the Steamboat Springs area Saturday night, I would expect a quite cold Sunday morning. Temperatures will warm on Sunday, though they will still stay below average.
As the storm continues moving to our east across the central U.S. through the remainder of the weekend and early next week, a couple of waves in northwest flow will keep our weather unsettled and likely bring showers from Sunday night through Monday and again Tuesday night through Wednesday.
For those weary of winter, strong warming and drying is advertised for Thursday and Friday making those days feel relatively summer-like. Lots of uncertainty for next weekend, though, as another Pacific storm moves the ridge of nice weather eastward. There is disagreement among the models as to whether the Pacific storm makes landfall as a consolidated system as indicated by the American GFS, bringing another period of unsettled weather, or as a split system as per the European ECMWF, preserving the nice weather into the weekend.
Monday, April 24, 2017
A persistent trough of low pressure will remain over the western U.S. this week, continuing the unsettled spring conditions over the Steamboat Springs area. There will be plenty in the weather grab-bag this week including sun, clouds, rain, snow and possibly thunder.
Northwest flow associated with the trough will drive at least three disturbances through the west this week, with the first moving over our area tonight. Showers will be most numerous this evening, with snow at the higher elevations lowering to the valley bottom overnight. Normally, cooling northwest flow is our ideal snow-producer, but moisture wanes after midnight limiting the on-mountain accumulations to around 2-5” by the morning.
The second wave is forecast to move southwest of our area through the Four Corners region tomorrow and is responsible for diverting the moisture away from northern Colorado tonight. The end result is we will be between the initial wave to our north and the second wave to our south, leaving a cool Tuesday with a mix of sun and clouds and possibly some showers.
More pronounced drying will appear for Wednesday as the pair of waves moves to our east, providing for more sun especially early in the day before the threat of afternoon showers once again appears.
The third and coldest wave in this series of storms noses into our area Wednesday night in the still prevalent northwest flow. Another round of accumulating snows is expected for the mountain in the range of 2-5”, with some light accumulations on the grassy surfaces of the valley by Thursday morning.
Additional energy feeding into the storm will keep snow showers going on Thursday before the storm again splits by Thursday night, with energy centers over southwestern Nebraska and the Four Corners by Friday morning. The complicated nature of the storm combined with it being several days away makes the details of the forecast uncertain, but right now the storm system is not forecast to be east of our area till the second half of the weekend. This keeps the cool and unsettled weather around through Saturday with snow the likely precipitation type in the valley for both Friday and Saturday.
While we will see some warming and drying behind the storms by Sunday as they are forecast to be east of our area by then, some moisture in northwest flow quickly returns by later Sunday and will keep the possibility of light rain showers around for the beginning of the next work week.
Thursday, April 20, 2017
A cold Gulf of Alaska storm is currently on our doorstep, and some showers have popped up today in advance of the main storm. While snow levels are currently near 9500′, temperatures will drop this evening and bring snow to the Yampa Valley floor overnight. I would expect to see accumulations on the grassy surfaces by the morning of an inch or two, with a more substantial 4-8” at the higher elevations.
Cool and moist northwest flow will follow for Friday and Saturday. Showers, most likely snow even at the valley bottom, will be heaviest through Friday night, with an additional inch or two expected at the higher elevations.
Decreasing moisture on Saturday will limit the showers, but seasonably cool and still unstable northwest flow will make them most likely in the afternoon.
Sunday should be a spectacular day as temperatures warm under a transient ridge bringing mostly sunny skies.
However, a strong and progressive Pacific jet stream containing several embedded waves will move that ridge of nice weather eastward, with the first weakening wave bringing a chance of light showers by Monday afternoon.
Behind that, a stronger wave moves over the Steamboat Springs area on Tuesday, bringing heavier precipitation and the chance of snow down to the valley floor again.
It does not appear there will be much of a break in the weather as the strongest wave in this series moves across the central Rockies on Wednesday. Additional energy will keep the cool and wet weather around for the rest of the work week, with impressive precipitation accumulations likely across all of Colorado by week’s end.
The timing and details of these waves in the fast Pacific jet stream are notoriously difficult to predict, and I expect changes to the forecast for my next update on Sunday or Monday.
Monday, April 17, 2017
An energetic and progressive Pacific jet stream will send several waves of energy over the Steamboat Springs area this week, with breaks in the weather appearing between the storms on Tuesday and Thursday.
The first weak wave is currently moving across the Montana - Wyoming border and has brought breezy conditions with some clouds today.
Meanwhile, a strong storm in the Gulf of Alaska has mixed with some cold air leaking westward from a relatively persistent late-season Hudson Bay vortex. Tuesday looks to be a warm and dry day before some energy ejects from the Gulf of Alaska storm and grazes northern Colorado Tuesday night. Several inches of snow are possible above 9000′ overnight and into Wednesday morning, with rain showers likely for the Yampa Valley.
Thursday should be an in-between day with some light rain showers possible before additional upstream energy from the Pacific dislodges the cold Gulf of Alaska storm and moves it across the Great Basin during the day.
There is a fair bit of uncertainty for Friday and Saturday with respect to the storm’s structure and its southern extent, but we will be cold enough for snow down to the valley floor on Friday and likely Saturday as well. The storm is forecast to move across our area in several pieces, with the heaviest snow currently expected overnight Thursday into Friday morning, with significant accumulations possible at the higher elevations. Unsettled and cool weather will persist for Friday and Saturday, with a trailing wave increasing the likelihood of stronger snow showers later Saturday.
A warm and dry Sunday is advertised by the models ahead of another possible quick-moving storm for Monday.
Thursday, April 13, 2017
A powerful storm from the Gulf of Alaska has crossed the West Coast, and temperatures in the Steamboat Springs area will be much above normal today as breezy southwest flow ahead of the storm carries warm air over the Rockies. However, the storm will be deflected to our northwest and move over the northern Rockies as the western ridge flattens over the next two days. Some cooler air will be dragged over our region on Friday and Saturday, and there may be enough moisture for some clouds both days.
Behind the grazing storm early in the weekend, skies will be sunny and temperatures above normal again for Sunday as the western ridge rebuilds.
The weather will turn unsettled by Monday as a still energetic Pacific jet stream carries waves of energy over the continental U.S. There may some showers on Monday afternoon as the first relatively weak wave of many moves over our area under seasonable temperatures.
While Tuesday looks to be a warm and dry day ahead of the next Pacific wave, cold air from a persistent Hudson Bay vortex will slide southwestward toward the Gulf of Alaska at times over at least the following week, reinforcing storms originally formed in the Pacific. The fast westerly flow aloft combined with uncertainty regarding the southward and westward extent of the cold air from the Hudson Bay makes for an uncertain forecast beyond mid-next week.
While the details are uncertain, models agree that a cold storm will move over our area after midweek, with snow possible down to the valley floor.