Snow chances wait until next weekend

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Please resume your snow dances and sacrifices! You did great leading up to last weekend, when 32” of mid-mountain snow fell at the Steamboat Ski Area, but the holiday season must have distracted you, and now we are left with only dry weather through much of the next week.

The weather pattern over the continental U.S. is currently dominated by cold air over the eastern two thirds of the country and a ridge of high pressure over the West Coast. Think of it like a giant see-saw, and it appears that stormy weather will not return to the west until the cold air in the east is dislodged. There are indications that this pattern may change around next weekend as incoming Pacific energy battles the West Coast ridge.

Until this battle ensues, mostly sunny skies and dry weather will dominate Colorado, with cool mornings in the Yampa Valley as temperature inversions (where temperature increases with altitude) are encouraged by the existing snow cover, a low sun angle and clear nights. The weak storm for New Year’s Day discussed in the last Thursday forecast has slowed and dried, and is now expected to bring only clouds for Monday night and slightly cooler and seasonable temperatures for a mostly sunny Tuesday.

Another weaker and drier storm further to our northeast will bring reinforce the slightly cooler temperatures on a still mostly sunny Wednesday.

By late Wednesday or early Thursday, Pacific energy breaks through part of the West Coast ridge and brings some precipitation to the West Coast. The major disagreement among the weather forecast models centers around how much cold air from the north, if any, mixes with the incoming Pacific energy.

Right now, our mostly sunny work week weather looks to end around Friday, and there is even a small chance of likely insignificant snow showers. After a small break, accumulating snow becomes far more likely around mid-weekend as part of the West Coast ridge translates across the country and eventually dislodges the cold air over the eastern U.S.

The evolution of this predicted pattern change will no doubt change over the coming week, and I hope to have a better handle on it for my Thursday forecast.

The cold mornings may lead to cold toes. I’ve used the awesome Hotronic foot warmers from their beginnings, and can honestly say that each iteration of the product is better than the last. I have the S4 custom, attached to my powerstrap so they never fall off, and my toes stay warm for my entire ski day.

Pleasant week ahead with some light snow chances

Thursday, December 28, 2017

A ridge of high pressure over the West Coast will keep northwest flow over the Steamboat Springs area this week. A large vortex or gyre of cold air over Hudson Bay, which is bringing frigid weather to the eastern two thirds of the country, will periodically elongate to the southwest, bringing episodes of light snow and cooler weather to our area later Saturday and Monday, New Year’s Day.

Seasonably warm temperatures with mostly sunny skies will rule the days through midday Saturday before our first chance of snow arrives later Saturday. A weak storm traveling over the West Coast ridge of high pressure will mix with some cold air to our northeast and may bring up to several of inches of snow for the Sunday morning report.

We are on the edge of some drier air by Sunday, so we may or may not see the sun during the day. Another weak storm in northwest flow has trended stronger in the latest numerical weather model runs for later Monday, and it appears northern Colorado will see another chance for some snow. Amounts are uncertain at this time, but details should be clearer by my Sunday forecast.

Much drier air overspreads Colorado for Tuesday and Wednesday leading to some brilliant and seasonably warm winter days.

Lots of uncertainty for late next week as the West Coast ridge of high pressure is forecast to evolve. Numerical forecast models have struggled mightily with this the past week, and this is important for the western U.S. as the ridge is currently acting like a giant block to incoming Pacific energy. Models agree that eventually the West Coast ridge will break down and allow the jet stream and associated storm track to travel more west to east across the western U.S., but exactly how and when that will happen has been changing daily.

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Christmas storm to bring more snow

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Steamboat Springs did quite well from this last storm, with a foot on my deck and 18” at mid-mountain. Unfortunately, the strong westerly winds near the end of the storm adversely affected the snow quality today as wind slabs made for uneven skiing. But that could be fixed starting around midnight tonight when another strong storm from the northwest begins snowfall again.

This storm is similar to the Saturday storm, but the temperatures will not be as cold as the -3F up top this morning. (Made me glad to have the awesome Hotronic foot warmers for my toes and Black Diamond lobster glove for my hands). Additionally, the winds won’t be quite as strong and they should not stray to the west as strongly, leaving what falls in better shape than today. I would expect 4-8” of snow for the Monday morning report, with another 4-8” during the day.

Snows will diminish after noon Monday, and taper off during the day Tuesday. Another 1-4” will likely fall after the mountain closes Monday.

Along with seasonable temperatures, there is a chance for some light snow from about Wednesday afternoon through Thursday afternoon and again Friday ahead of another possible weekend storm. However, numerical forecast models are struggling with the timing and strength of the storms in the relatively fast jet stream, and the Saturday storm is much weaker in the European ECMWF.

Amazingly, model agreement increases late in the forecast period with another possibly significant storm moving over our area after New Years Day.

Winter solstice storm fizzles, but more snow chances this week

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Like all of the previous possible storms this past month, the current storm has split from the main storm track and is currently shearing apart as it dives southeastward into New Mexico. I’m afraid Steamboat Springs will not see more than an inch or two on top of the trace amount reported this morning.

Skies will briefly clear on Friday ahead of another chance for snow lasting from Friday night through Saturday afternoon. This storm moves southeastward from British Columbia and will mix with some moist Pacific air to bring snows to northern Colorado starting Friday night. There may be an inch or two of snow for the Saturday morning report, but the best snow looks to wait until some cooler air arrives Saturday morning after the report.

If snows stop Saturday afternoon, then there could be 3-6” snow for the Sunday morning report. There may be a bit more if the slightly warmer and wetter model solutions verify and keep light snow going Saturday night.

By Sunday, some models have us dry and seasonably cold, while others keep us warmer with light snow continuing during the day. For what its worth, models have just moved toward the drier and cooler solutions for Saturday night and Sunday.

Agreement among the models return for Sunday night into Christmas Day as Pacific energy undercuts a ridge of high pressure that will form over Alaska. This brings seasonably warm and moist northwest flow our area. There is not a lot of cold air with the storm which will limit our snowfall, but there could be several inches by Christmas morning with another 3-6” during the day.

Lots of uncertainty emerges after Monday as another ridge of high pressure is advertised to build off the West Coast. It is not yet clear if Pacific storms will travel over the ridge and drop into the southwestern U.S., encouraging the cold air in central North America to move back westward, or if the Pacific storms will move through the ridge and keep the coldest air to our east.

One of these storms look to influence our weather on Tuesday or Wednesday, with light snow a possibility heading into midweek.

I spend a lot of time skiing and mountain biking, depending on the season, and these are some of the products that have worked very well for me. Consider purchasing them through these links as I will earn a small commission that will help me keep SnowAlarm running. And feel free to contact me if you would like to see your product endorsed.

Save your soles in time for the holidays! Your boot soles, that is. If you do any walking in your ski boots on hard surfaces, then you know the grating and grinding sounds you hear can’t be good. In fact, worn boot soles make your binding unsafe as it interferes with the boot-binding interface. Cat Tracks are a flexible protector that keeps your boot soles pristine, and adds a cushion for walking comfort. When it’s time to click into bindings, I take them off and stash them in my coat pocket.

Yaktrax are similar, but I have not used them since they appear they would take up a bit more space in my jacket pocket. But you get a rocker sole that promotes a natural stride which may be worth the space sacrifice. If I did not have to carry them around all day, these would be my choice.

Winter solstice to bring a blast of winter

Sunday, December 17, 2017

The current storm is literally splitting around Steamboat Springs with precipitation to our north in Wyoming and south in New Mexico. We are left with only clouds and some very light snow showers at the higher elevations, with peaks of sun expected during the rest of the afternoon.

A weak fast-moving storm to our north will bring some additional moisture over our area early in the work week, keeping a mix of clouds and sun in the forecast for Monday and Tuesday.

Ahead of a strong storm that is currently in the Gulf of Alaska, drier air in southwest flow overspreads the southwest U.S. and brings warmer than average temperatures under mostly sunny skies to the Steamboat Springs area on Wednesday.

Winter solstice arrives Thursday morning at 9:28, and will be closely followed by a blast of real winter weather. The Gulf of Alaska storm will have mixed with some cold air from western Canada as it moves through the Great Basin, and a strong cold front is forecast to move through northern Colorado sometime during the first day of winter.

Snow showers will develop ahead of the cold front as some energy is ejected out of the Great Basin storm, but showers will turn into moderate to heavy snow as the front blasts through our area later Thursday. There is some uncertainty with the storm’s evolution, with some splitting evident in the numerical forecast guidance, though the models now keep the storm mostly intact as it crosses the Rockies. At this point, 4-8” of snow is possible for the Friday morning Steamboat ski report, though the forecast amounts will likely change as the Great Basin storm evolves.

While a ridge of high pressure rapidly builds in the Gulf of Alaska near weeks end, another storm  traveling down the Pacific Northwest coast mixes with some bitterly cold arctic air pulled southward from the North Pole and will affect our weekend weather.

While it looks likely that Christmas weekend will be cold, there is uncertainty to how snowy it may be. Numerical models elongate the push of cold air form central California to New England, bringing very cold temperatures to most of the U.S., and it looks like Steamboat Springs will be near the boundary that separates the coldest air to our north. Though I expect the forecast to change by my next post on Wednesday or Thursday, after a dry Friday day, persistent light to moderate snow may grace our area from Friday night through Christmas Eve, with significant accumulations of light and fluffy low-density snow possible.

From Christmas Day forward, models are struggling with how much energy gets left behind in the southwest as most of the storm moves east, how strong the Gulf of Alaska ridge becomes and whether moist Pacific energy undercuts the ridge. The evolution of this complex pattern will determine if the snow and cold stick around for the last week of 2017.

I spend a lot of time skiing and mountain biking, depending on the season, and these are some of the products that have worked very well for me. Consider purchasing them through these links as I will earn a small commission that will help me keep SnowAlarm running. And feel free to contact me if you would like to see your product endorsed.

Save your soles in time for the holidays! Your boot soles, that is. If you do any walking in your ski boots on hard surfaces, then you know the grating and grinding sounds you hear can’t be good. In fact, worn boot soles make your binding unsafe as it interferes with the boot-binding interface. Cat Tracks are a flexible protector that keeps your boot soles pristine, and adds a cushion for walking comfort. When it’s time to click into bindings, I take them off and stash them in my coat pocket.

Yaktrax are similar, but I have not used them since they appear they would take up a bit more space in my jacket pocket. But you get a rocker sole that promotes a natural stride which may be worth the space sacrifice. If I did not have to carry them around all day, these would be my choice.

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