Thursday, January 11, 2018
A currently building ridge of high pressure over the West Coast will dominate the Steamboat Springs weather for most of the next week ahead of a potentially large and significant winter storm around the following weekend. 10” of snow was reported by the Steamboat Ski Area this morning, with all but an inch of that falling during the day Wednesday.
A storm currently approaching the Pacific Northwest coast will travel over the West Coast ridge and mix with some cool air rotating around a deep vortex of very cold air over Hudson Bay, and bring snows back to our area starting tonight in moist northwest flow.
This storm will be an orographic event by the time it reaches Steamboat Springs, which means that precipitation will form as the air is lifted and subsequently cooled as it impinges on the Park Mountain Range. Temperatures at mountain-top level are expected to be in the range where light and fluffy snow is efficiently produced, and I would expect 1-4” of snow for the Friday morning report, followed by 3-6” during the first half of the day. Snowfall will taper off in the afternoon, though light snow showers may persist into Saturday morning, adding another inch or two for a 4-8” Saturday morning report.
More cool air rotating around the Hudson Bay vortex will keep some clouds and seasonable temperatures over our area through the weekend and Monday before incoming Pacific energy pushes a now-weakening West Coast ridge over our area around midweek. There is disagreement as to how much Pacific energy travels over the ridge versus through the ridge, with the European ECMWF insistent that a quick-moving compact storm affect our area around or just after after midweek, while the American GFS is drier and further north with that energy.
In any event, this is all pushed to our east as a strong and likely significant storm from the Pacific moves through the Great Basin and over our area by around next weekend.
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Sunday, January 7, 2018
A sunny and warm afternoon has followed the 6” of snow at mid-mountain and 7” up top at the Steamboat Ski Area. Ahead of our next Pacific weather maker currently moving across the eastern Pacific, temperatures will warm further above average on a mostly sunny Monday as a ridge of high pressure is pushed eastward over our area.
The incoming Pacific storm is going to split as it crosses the central California coast early Tuesday, with the southern part of the split forecast to move across central Arizona and New Mexico through Wednesday. Additionally, cold air from western Canada is forecast to be dragged southward over our area later Wednesday by a trailing piece of energy in the northern part of the storm, producing likely significant snows.
Interestingly, part of the just-past storm left some energy off the southern California coast, and this has warmed and moistened and will be absorbed into the leading edge of the coming storm. Along with some very good moisture, warm temperatures and energy ejecting our of the storm will bring low-elevation rain showers and high elevation snow showers on Tuesday.
I would expect 1-4” of snow at mid-mountain and above by Wednesday morning, but snows will increase and lower to the Yampa Valley floor during the day on Wednesday as the cold front washes over Colorado. There is considerable uncertainty with the track of the southern part of the system, and this may affect the amount of moisture and snow over our area. Moderate to heavy snow is looking likely, and at this point, I’ll guess 6-12” of snow by Thursday morning, with that forecast subject to change as this complicated storm evolves.
Snowfall should taper off by early Thursday as a break in the weather appears.
Another Pacific storm, this one quick-moving, will start the snow machine again around Thursday night, with light to moderate snowfall expected in moist and cool northwest flow for most of the day Friday. Models have trended slightly stronger with this storm, and an additional 3-6” from Thursday night through Friday night is possible.
While a ridge of high pressure was previously advertised for a nice weekend, the nice-weather window may be shortened as current model trends have more Pacific energy traveling over the top of the ridge and dragging some unsettled weather over our area for the second half of coming weekend.
Thursday, January 4, 2018
The atmospheric see-saw over North America discussed in Sundays’s forecast looks to finally change it’s tilt this weekend as incoming Pacific energy moves the western ridge of high pressure eastward, dislodging the bitterly cold air now plaguing the eastern two thirds of the country.
The Steamboat Springs area will see another mostly sunny today today and chilly morning Friday as the high pressure over the western U.S. translates over the Rockies. Clouds will increase starting later Friday as some moisture moves through the ridge, with a slight chance of light snow showers in the afternoon and evening.
A brief break in the moisture stream may allow the sun to reappear Saturday morning, but clouds will increase during the afternoon ahead of the storm forecast for Saturday night. We have northwest flow, moisture and cold air, so moderate snow is likely. The storm structure is still changing in the weather forecast models, and it is not clear at this point how organized the storm will be as it crosses through Colorado., with some models indicating more of a split in the storm as it crosses our area.
At this point, I would expect 4-8” of snow by the Sunday morning report, with light snow showers continuing Sunday morning and producing another inch or two of accumulations. There could be more if the storm stays more organized, or less if the split is more severe.
Another ridge of high pressure moves across our area from later Sunday through Tuesday bringing unseasonably warm daytime temperatures back to the west, though afternoon highs and overnight lows may be tempered by moisture moving through the ridge on Monday night and Tuesday.
This moisture is ahead of a strong and likely significant storm forecast to cross the West Coast later Tuesday. There is lots of uncertainty with respect to the storm structure as well as how much cold air from the northern latitudes mixes with the storm, but right now warm snow showers are advertised starting Wednesday followed by increasing snows Wednesday night as cold air washes over northern Colorado.
Snows may continue for most of the day Thursday before the main part of the storm moves west, though it is not clear if some energy will be left behind for continued unsettled weather on Friday. If the current weather forecast models are to be believed, another ridge of high pressure brings nicer weather to the west for next weekend.
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