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Unsettled weather ahead of our next storm starts Thursday

Sunday, March 11, 2018

A ridge of high pressure has built over the western states, bringing a beautiful warm and sunny Sunday to the Steamboat Springs area. A weak and splitting storm moving through this ridge will weaken further by Monday as it passes through our area, and we may see some clouds during the day, with a small chance of non-accumulating snow showers by Monday afternoon.

Meanwhile, a large and impressive storm approaches the West Coast early in the work week. The ridge of high pressure over the western states first strengthens on Tuesday and part of Wednesday ahead of the storm, bringing warmer temperatures and mostly sunny skies.

But as early as Wednesday afternoon, and certainly by Thursday, the Ides of March, energy and moisture ejecting out of the West Coast storm will bring clouds and showers to our area. The amount of ejecting energy and its southern extent will likely determine the snow levels, but low-elevation rain showers are currently a possibility.

Weather forecast models have struggled mightily with the evolution of the West Coat storm, and forecast confidence has not increased over the last few days, as model differences persist. Right now, a break in the weather is advertised between the ejecting energy on Thursday and the main storm, which is now forecast to cross the Great Basin around Saturday and arrive in our area around Sunday.

I hope to have better clarity by my upcoming Thursday post, but at this point, Friday may see some clouds and even an isolated shower as the ejecting energy departs the area. We may see some drying and warming for Saturday ahead of the main storm, though there will still likely be some clouds ahead of the main event advertised for the end of the weekend.

It is too soon to talk about the details of the Sunday storm, other than it may slow down and it will likely be significant. For what it’s worth, further storms are forecast to be lined up in the Pacific for more snow chances following the late-weekend storm.

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Light snow chances Saturday and early next week

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Ahead of a small storm for Saturday, the Steamboat Springs area will see warm and mostly sunny weather for today and Friday, though there may be some clouds ahead of the storm by Friday afternoon.

That storm is currently affecting the Pacific Northwest, and looks to bring cooling temperatures and snow showers to our area early on Saturday. There may be an inch by the Saturday morning report, but the strongest part of this weak storm is forecast to occur mid-morning, with another several inches possible, before skies clear behind the departing storm later in the day.

Sunday will start chilly, but plenty of sun and warming temperatures should make for a beautiful day.

Meanwhile, a large, cold and very impressive storm forms between Hawaii and the West Coast early in the work week. This storm will kick some loitering energy and moisture in that area eastward, leading to the possibility of showers for our area later Monday and part of Tuesday. The southwest flow ahead of the large storm will keep the warm temperatures around, so any precipitation that falls will be liquid below about mid-mountain.

Quickly following for midweek will be energy and moisture ejecting out of the large and slowly-moving-eastward West Coast storm. The exact timing will likely change in future forecasts, but right now, low elevation rain and high elevation snow showers are expected for later Wednesday and Thursday.

The evolution of the West Coast storm is hotly debated by the weather forecast models, and it is not clear if the storm will move inland mostly intact or in pieces. However, both the European ECMWF and the American GFS have additional upstream energy moving in behind the storm, indicating the possibility of a week of stormy weather starting near the end of the work week.

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Tardy storm on our doorstep

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Hard to believe that even the short-range weather models can’t get the timing right eighteen hours in advance, but the advertised cold front looks to finally pass through the Steamboat Springs area soon after noon today. As was the case with the storm update last night, snowfall will be shifted towards tonight and even tomorrow morning, so I now expect 2-4” before sunset and 3-6” overnight.

And with snowfall likely occurring around the Monday morning ski report, we may see some Steamboat Magic where accumulations occur between report time and ski time, with another 1-4” of snow possible before noon on Monday along with seasonably cold wintertime temperatures.

Light snow showers will hang on at the higher elevations for the rest of Monday, with a trailing wave of energy briefly increasing the showers Monday night and possibly leaving another 1-4” for the Tuesday morning report in continued cold temperatures.

Dry air bringing sunny skies and much warmer temperatures is advertised for Wednesday and Thursday before incoming Pacific energy picks up pieces of a storm spinning between Hawaii and California and moves them eastward, eventually grazing northern Colorado on Friday and Saturday.

The storm will be weak and disorganized, with the best chance of accumulating snow showers along the northern border of Colorado. Right now, weather models show that we may see some snow showers on the hill from Friday afternoon through Saturday morning.

Warming and drying should follow for the end of the weekend and the beginning of the work week before another storm approaches the West Coast. There may be some energy ejecting out ahead of the storm around the following Tuesday or Wednesday, leading to unsettled weather, though the main part of the storm may not begin moving westward until later in the work week.

Don’t let the cold weather on Monday and Tuesday shorten your ski day. My new favorite cold-weather glove are all about warmth. And when combined with the standard HotHands handwamers which I use below about 5F, I’m good for the day. Three fingers sit together with the index finger separated, but there is enough room to scrunch all your fingers together while on the lift, which is especially nice if you have a handwarmer in the mitten-part of the glove.

Quick update on the storm

Saturday, March 3, 2018

I wanted to post a quick update after looking at the storm this afternoon. The expected cold front looks to arrive around mid-morning on Sunday, so I would not expect any snow for the morning report. In fact, we may see some sun and more gusty winds ahead of the front early in the day.

The later arrival of the front means that some of the snowfall that would have occurred during the day will instead accumulate later Sunday night. I still expect the same 6-12” of snow by the Monday morning report as my last Thursday forecast, but with 3-6” of snow falling during the day Sunday followed by another 3-6” overnight.

Best chances for snow this week on Sunday

Thursday, March 1, 2018

What might end up being the strongest storm for the Sierras this winter season is currently pounding the northern California mountains with wind and heavy snow. Additional upstream Pacific energy will move this storm eastward through the Great Basin this weekend, bringing snows to the Steamboat Springs area for Sunday.

Ahead of the storm though, we will see warming temperatures and breezy southwest winds. Some energy ejecting out of the storm will increase clouds later this Thursday afternoon and overnight, with the chance of an inch or two at the higher elevations by Friday morning.

The sun should return for a warm Friday and Saturday, and after last weekend’s frigid temperatures, the weather will feel springlike.

But that will quickly change Saturday night or Sunday morning as a strong cold front barrels through our area. The timing of the front is still uncertain, though Sunday morning looks likely, and the front will be accompanied with and followed by periods of moderate to heavy snowfall. If the current forecasts hold, I would expect 1-4” for the Sunday morning report with an additional 4-8” during the day.

As the storm moves east of Colorado, very cold air in moist northwest flow moves over Colorado, keeping snows going overnight Sunday on the backside of the storm and leaving an additional 2-4” of snow for the 6-12” Monday morning report. While we usually do very well in this circumstance, the very cold air might limit snow densities during the last half of the storm and temper the overall storm accumulations, or not.

Nonetheless, after a very cold Monday morning, sunshine and warming temperatures are on tap for the rest of the day and Tuesday, though the warmest temperatures, which will eventually reach well above average, will wait for the end of the work week. We may see some clouds with the chance of light snow showers later Wednesday and Wednesday night as a weak wave passes near our area.

After a warm Friday and Saturday, the weather looks to turn unsettled heading into the following weekend.

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