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Modest New Years Eve Day storm followed by arctic air

Sunday, December 30, 2018

The Steamboat Springs area has warmed considerably this Sunday ahead of our next storm which starts later today, with high temperatures getting back around our average high of 26 F. Enjoy the relatively warm temperatures today since the coldest weather of the season so far is on our doorstep.

The modest storm for our area is currently moving through the Pacific Northwest and will split as it moves eastward. The southern piece digs into the Great Basin tonight with the remainder of the storm moving eastward across the northern states. The split storm means more snow north and south of us, but less snow for north-central Colorado than I originally hoped for in last Thursday’s forecast.

We’ll see two cold fronts move through our area with the storm; the first this evening with light snows starting later this afternoon and turning heavier this evening as the front passes. Snows will diminish for a time before they pick up again during the day Monday when a very cold arctic front with air originally sourced from the North Pole passes through our area.

Not only does the splitting storm keep the best energy away from our area, but limits any favorable northwest flow; in fact winds may be from the east for a time on Monday which is often unfavorable for significant snowfall. We may see 2-5” of snow at mid-mountain by the Monday morning report, with another 1-4” during the day along with plunging temperatures.

New Years Eve is forecast to be frigid with low temperatures fifteen to twenty-five degrees below our average of 3 F. Snow showers may continue on the hill overnight with no additional accumulations expected.

New Years Day and most of Wednesday will stay frigid, though they may feel warmer as we should see the sun during the day in advance of a ridge of high pressure that is forecast to move over the western states for the end of the work week and heading into the weekend. Notable higher-elevation warming will occur starting later Wednesday, though the Yampa Valley will stay chilly as a temperature inversion, where air is coldest at low elevations, forms thanks to fresh snow cover and clear nights.

There is hope for significant snows starting near the end of next weekend or the beginning of the next work week as a warmer and much wetter storm may approach from the southwest.

Save your soles! You suspect that the grating and grinding sounds you hear from your ski boots as you walk across hard surfaces 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.

Cold ahead of likely New Years Eve day storm

Thursday, December 27, 2018

The productive storm which brought 6” of snow to the Steamboat Ski Area over the last 24 hours is now bringing severe winter weather to the Mississippi River Valley. Behind the departing storm, the Steamboat Springs area is enjoying some sun behind lingering snow showers this cool Thursday morning as another storm takes up residence in the Great Basin. Our area will be mostly missed by the snow as the storm eventually moves east, but not the cold that will hang around through the weekend in advance of a possibly significant New Years Eve day storm.

The Great Basin storm is expected to move southward today, with a large portion of the storm ejecting out ahead of the parent circulation and bringing significant snows to southern Colorado and New Mexico tonight and Friday. The notable weather for Steamboat Springs will be the cold as high temperatures for Friday and Saturday are forecast to be five to ten degrees below our average high of 26 F and low temperatures ten to twenty degrees below our average low of 3 F.

As the storm passes well south of our area on Friday, we’ll see clouds increase, with even light snow showers possible from Friday night into Saturday morning if the moisture associated with the storm makes it far enough north.

The sun should briefly return later Saturday ahead of a cold and wet Gulf of Alaska storm crossing the Pacific Northwest coast around Saturday night. The storm will mix with some more cold air from the Canadian Plains, first bringing clouds on Sunday followed by light snow showers during the day. A strong cold front is forecast to move through Colorado Sunday night accompanied by moderate to heavy snows that should taper off during the day Monday. Weather forecast models disagree on whether the southern end of the storm cuts off from the jet stream, but right now it looks like we could see 6-12” from the storm before snows turn showery and taper off by Monday afternoon.

Another push of even colder but drier air is forecast for New Years Eve followed by another one containing slightly more moisture for Tuesday night. While there may be some showers around New Years Day, a better chance of showers producing light, fluffy low-density snowfall exists for the quite cold Wednesday morning report.

A ridge of high pressure that develops over the West Coast is forecast to move inland midweek, and this will bring notable higher elevation warming for the end of the work week. Lower elevations will likely stay cold as a temperature inversion, where air is warmer at higher elevations, develops.

I absolutely love this super-warm split-finger mitten-glove, and you’ll be happy you have them for our forecast cold weather! I’m on my second season with these and am very impressed with their durability and warmth, especially when combined with the standard HotHands handwamers. 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.

Snows continue this week

Sunday, December 23, 2018

The Steamboat Springs area is currently enjoying a cold and sunny morning behind yesterday’s storm. Weather highlights for the upcoming week include accumulating snows for Monday and likely Wednesday with very cold temperatures heading into and through part of New Year’s weekend.

For those lucky enough to be on the hill this past Saturday morning, temperatures dropped from 17 F at 5 am to 3 F at 11 am as a cold front moved through northern Colorado. Along with the rapidly falling temperatures, a convective cell, similar to a summertime thunderstorm, passed directly overhead around 9 am; 3.5” of snow accumulated at the top of Sunshine Peak between 8:44 am and 9:24 am, which equates to a 5” per hour snowfall rate! Accumulations were maximized by ideal temperatures in the 5 F to 12 F range which promotes the production of fluffy and low-density snowflakes that form the classic and well known branched snowflake called a dendrite. The end result of this Steamboat Magic was almost a foot on the Powdercam by noon and 15” in the favored locations.

Our next storm is currently pounding the Pacific Northwest and northern California, with the currently sunny skies giving way to clouds and then light snow showers by midnight. Ahead of a cool front that is forecast to pass through Colorado in the morning, we should see 1-4” by the Monday morning report. More Steamboat Magic may be in store for Monday morning when the front passes followed by snows becoming more showery by the afternoon as they taper off. There could be another 3-6” during the day that would be reported Tuesday morning.

The Christmas Day storm is now forecast to be slower, and only briefly forms a closed circulation over Arizona cutoff from the main jet stream on Tuesday. Snowfall will be only light, or even non-existent during the day Tuesday ahead of the storm, but heavier snows are expected by Tuesday night or early Wednesday as we’ll see more upward forcing as the storm moves over the Colorado Rockies. Additionally, snowfall may be enhanced by upward motion in the northwest quadrant behind the storm as low-level air from the eastern plains is lifted over the cold front and wraps around the storm. While significant accumulations are possible from late Tuesday night through Wednesday, the storm track and its evolution are still uncertain, and small changes can result in big snowfall differences. We could see a 6-12” from Tuesday night through Wednesday under the more favorable solutions.

In any event, a short break in the active weather is currently advertised for Thursday before another Gulf of Alaska storm mixes with some frigid air originally sourced from Siberia and the North Pole. The storm will take up residence in the Great Basin area starting Friday, bringing light snow and very cold temperatures well below our 27 F average high temperature for Friday and Saturday.

Another storm is then forecast to approach the West Coast mid-weekend, though weather forecast models disagree on the track leading to a very uncertain late-weekend forecast.

Stop battling cold feet! 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.

Active weather pattern resumes Friday

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Enjoy the sun on this brilliant Thursday as an active weather pattern will return to the Steamboat Springs area starting later Friday. Two waves of Pacific moisture and energy will bring good snow chances Friday night into Saturday and again later Sunday into Monday before a much larger and colder storm brings Christmas Day powder to most of Colorado.

The ridge of high pressure currently over the Great Basin bringing today’s sunny weather will quickly be pushed eastward overnight by a strong Pacific jet stream. Clouds will increase Friday ahead of the first wave of Pacific energy and moisture that should start snow showers by the afternoon or evening for northern Colorado.

Snows will turn heavier on Saturday, though whether that is before or after the morning ski report is uncertain as there are discrepancies between the weather forecast models in the fast west-northwest flow. Regardless of the exact timing, snows will taper off around the afternoon, with 3-6” expected by the end of the day.

A second wave of Pacific energy and moisture quickly follows and starts snow showers again by Sunday afternoon that continue through Monday. Timing of the best snowfall is again uncertain, but another 3-6” of snow seems likely by Monday afternoon before we may see a small break currently timed for Monday night.

Meanwhile, a much stronger and colder storm develops in the Gulf of Alaska on Monday and crosses the West Coast Monday night before forming a closed circulation that moves through the Great Basin on Christmas Day. Weather forecast models usually struggle with the movement and placement of these large storms cutoff from the main jet stream, and this one is no different. Adding complexity is another Gulf of Alaska storm that is forecast to cross the West Coast around midweek, and the timing and track of this storm will affect the Christmas Day storm.

According to the American GFS, snow showers start again early Christmas morning before turning heavier at times during the day and overnight as the storm moves over Colorado. Accumulating snows look to continue in the favorable cool, moist and unstable northwest flow around Wednesday once the storm eventually moves east of our area as well.

Snow amounts from Christmas Day through Thursday morning will be dependent upon the eventual track of the storm, but significant accumulations are possible. Travel will almost certainly be impacted on Christmas Day in the mountains and possibly Wednesday on the Front Range and eastern plains.

There may be a break in the weather around Thursday before we may see effects from the second Gulf of Alaska storm. As might be expected, there is a lot of uncertainty with the evolution of this storm which will affect our weather heading into the following New Year’s weekend.

Save your soles this holiday season! You suspect that the grating and grinding sounds you hear from your ski boots as you walk across hard surfaces 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.

Some snow possible Tuesday and Wednesday

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Currently this Sunday morning, a ridge of high pressure over the Intermountain West has brought dry conditions to the Steamboat Springs area, along with sunny warm days and cool nights. Incoming Pacific energy will bring a chance for light snow showers on Tuesday and a better chance Wednesday before the western ridge of high pressure rebuilds for the end of the work week.

Our first chance of some snow will occur overnight Monday into Tuesday as a storm currently bringing precipitation to the Pacific Northwest splits as it crosses the Great Basin on Monday. The storm is now forecast to split a bit less than in my last Thursday’s weather narrative, giving us a better chance of some light snow showers for Monday night and Tuesday.

There may be a small break later Tuesday, after accumulations of only as much as an inch or two, before another round of incoming Pacific moisture and energy rides over the top of a building ridge of high pressure over the West Coast. Initially, this storm looked to be shunted to our northeast, but now it looks like we should see a period of accumulating snows on Wednesday as the favorable cool and moist northwest flow is lifted over the Park Mountain Range and the Steamboat Ski Area. Snows should taper off Wednesday night, leaving 2-5” on the Thursday morning mid-mountain ski report.

That ridge of high pressure over the West Coast will move eastward over our area for Thursday and Friday as a weak storm approaches the West Coast. After a chilly start to Thursday morning, temperatures should warm, especially at the higher elevations, to close out the work week.

The weak storm is forecast to move along the Canadian border, passing mostly north of our area later Friday into Saturday, though it may be close enough to graze northern Colorado and produce some cooling and possibly snow showers.

Weather forecast models agree on a stormier pattern re-emerging around the end of next weekend and headed into Christmas week, though there is disagreement on the timing and strength of several waves of Pacific energy that will bring good snow chances to our area.

I absolutely love this super-warm split-finger mitten-glove! I’m on my second season with these and am very impressed with their durability and warmth, especially when combined with the standard HotHands handwamers. 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.

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