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Unsettled weekend followed by warming and drying

Thursday, May 17, 2018

A Pacific storm complex will move across the Great Basin on Friday and bring a weekend of unsettled weather to the Steamboat Springs area. Dry and warm southwesterly flow ahead of the storm will continue our gorgeous late-spring weather for today and most of Friday, though we may see a chance of some late day storms tomorrow as moisture and energy from the approaching storm move over our area.

As the storm moves east of the Rocky Mountains on Saturday, a cool front will wash over our area and eventually the entire state. Showery and cool weather will accompany the front and linger behind it during the day Saturday, and there may be some snow at the top of Mt. Werner.

Conditions should improve on Sunday, with some warming temperatures and a chance of afternoon storms.

Another Pacific storm crosses the West Coast on Monday, and the southwest flow ahead of that storm will bring much warmer and drier weather into Colorado during the day.

This next storm is forecast to wobble across the Great Basin on Tuesday before some of the storm passes to our northwest. Some moisture and energy may graze our area on Tuesday, bringing the best chance of afternoon storms for the work week.

Some of the weakening storm is left behind in the Great Basin by Wednesday as it elongates to the northeast, with a chance of afternoon storms Wednesday if the northeastward-departing part is close enough to our area.

There should be a reduced chance of afternoon storms on Thursday before remnants of the storm left behind in the Great Basin eventually pass over our area toward the end of the work week, bringing a better chance of afternoon storms for Friday.

The forecast is muddled for the following weekend as models disagree on the fate of another Pacific storm that may or may not affect our area.

Seasonable work week ahead of possibly unsettled weekend

Sunday, May 13, 2018

A storm in the Great Basin has brought 4” of snow to the Snowbird resort in Utah and cool and cloudy weather to the Steamboat Springs area today. Behind the weak wave that ejected out of the storm and brought the morning clouds, we should see periods of sun later this afternoon.

The Great Basin storm undergoes an odd split, with some of the storm moving eastward near our area on Monday while the rest of the storm slowly moves northwestward. We’ll have a better chance of showers tomorrow, especially in the afternoon and evening.

Though Tuesday will be dry behind the departing piece of the storm, seasonably cool temperatures will be left behind.

Another Pacific storm crosses the West Coast on Wednesday and absorbs the remnants of the Great Basin storm. The southwesterly flow ahead of this new storm complex will bring dry air and warmer than average temperatures from the Desert Southwest over Colorado starting Wednesday and lasting through the rest of the work week.

The Pacific storm complex will move across the Great Basin and bring the possibility of cool and unsettled weather our area by next weekend. The European ECMWF, which incidentally verified better for the current storm, is not as cool and moist as the American GFS and advertises a shorter duration of the unsettled weather. So if that weather prediction model is right, we may see some warming and drying by the end of the weekend before both models agree with that forecast by early in the next work week.

Latest forecast now for warm and mostly dry weekend

Thursday, May 10, 2018

While the warm and pleasant weather this work week was expected, the forecast for the weekend has changed considerably since my Sunday weather discussion. Interestingly, the storm in the Great Basin will still happen as Pacific energy drops down from the Gulf of Alaska and mixes with some cool air from western Canada, but now the storm is forecast to stay mostly west and eventually north of the Steamboat Springs area. The end result is the previous forecast for a possibly cool and wet weekend has flipped to warm and breezy with only a chance of showers for Sunday.

The further west placement of the storm means that the northwestern half of Utah will receive the bulk of the beneficial precipitation on Friday and Saturday. Some energy and moisture ejecting out of the storm in breezy southwest flow may bring some afternoon showers to our area today and Friday, but will also keep the coolest air from western Canada to our north.

As the storm drops southward into the Great Basin on Friday, the chance of showers over our area decreases on Saturday as we see drier air from the Desert Southwest. If the storm wobbles eastward on Sunday as currently forecast, we may see some cooler temperatures and the chance of showers on Mother’s Day, perhaps early in the day, as some of the moisture and energy from the storm grazes northern Colorado.

There is still quite a bit of uncertainty regarding the movement of the storm through the next work week. Weather forecast models disagree on the proximity of the storm as it moves mostly to our northwest, with the European ECMWF favoring a further north and drier solution while the American GFS keeps the threat of afternoon and early evening showers going through most of the work week.

Another significantly warmer Pacific storm is forecast to cross the West Coast midweek, and unsurprisingly there is strong disagreement between weather forecast models on whether that stays to our west for the following weekend or travels over Colorado. Again, the ECMWF advocates for the further west and drier solution as compared to the American GFS.

Pleasant work week ahead of cool and unsettled weekend

Sunday, May 6, 2018

The Steamboat Springs area is currently experiencing warm and pleasant weather, and this is expected to continue for the bulk of the work week. However, this weather is no longer expected to last into next weekend as suggested in my last Thursday forecast, and instead a wet and cold weekend is looking increasingly likely.

Our current nice weather is courtesy of a ridge of high pressure over the western states. A weak and grazing Pacific storm with some trailing energy will move through the ridge later Monday and Wednesday along with some clouds, but no precipitation is expected.

But a strong storm currently north of Hawaii will move northeastward across the Pacific and make landfall in the Pacific Northwest midweek. Additionally, there is still cold air circulating around a persistent vortex over Hudson Bay, and some of this cold air may move into western Canada and mix with the Pacific storm as it moves into the Great Basin by the end of the work week.

We may feel the effects of the Pacific storm by Thursday afternoon as moisture and energy eject out ahead of the main storm and bring the possibility of showers. Right now, there is a break advertised for Friday before the Hawaiian moisture and Canadian cold combine over the Great Basin.

Details will no doubt change this coming week as weather forecast models get a better handle on the storm, but right now a strong cold front looks to move into northern Colorado around late Friday. The front will likely stall over parts of Utah and Colorado as the storm slowly makes eastward progress across the Great Basin, eventually reaching our area around Saturday.

Though the heaviest precipitation, with moderate to heavy rain at the lower elevations and snow at the higher elevations, will occur if the main part of the storm passes over our area around Saturday, the back end of the storm is forecast to elongate to the southwest as more cold air drops down from the north, keeping showery but still cold weather around for the rest of the weekend.

And I’ll say it - there is a possibility for snowflakes down to the Yampa Valley floor for Mother’s Day. The storm should depart near the end of the weekend, after which another ridge of high pressure builds over the western states and restores more seasonable spring weather to our area.

Spring returns in time for the weekend

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Well, the advertised storm sure did not disappoint, with 21” of snow shown on the Winter Park Snow Stake Cam and 19” reported at Loveland this afternoon. Steamboat’s Powdercam showed about 7.5”. The Berthoud Pass SNOTEL site reported 16” of snow containing 1.7” of water, representative of the very dense snow from this warm storm where the temperatures only got down to 28F at the Tower SNOTEL site, just north of Steamboat at 10,500′, and 27F at the Berthoud Pass site 1000′ higher.

Winter departs the area as the storm continues moving eastward and a ridge of high pressure builds over the western states. The Steamboat Springs area should see plenty of sun and warming temperatures starting Friday and lasting through the weekend , with only a slight chance of an afternoon shower.

A Pacific storm traveling through the ridge of high pressure will bring a better chance of afternoon storms on Monday that may extend into the early evening.

The western ridge rebuilds for Tuesday bringing a warm and likely sunny day as shown by the American GFS, though the European ECMWF grazes northern Colorado with some trailing energy and moisture behind the late Monday storm that may spark some afternoon storms.

The American GFS and the European ECMWF disagree on the track and timing of a couple more Pacific storms largely traveling across the northern states. Regardless, generally benign and pleasant weather is forecast for the rest of the work week, with some afternoon storms possible on the days where the Pacific storms graze our area.

More of the same is forecast for the following weekend, though a shift southward in any of the grazing Pacific storms may bring some weather into our area.

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