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.

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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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9 June 2021

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