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Cold fronts today and Sunday followed by warmer and drier weather

Thursday, November 8, 2018

A couple more cold fronts for this Thursday and Sunday will cross the Steamboat Springs area before significant warming and drying occurs during the upcoming work week.

Behind the first cold front today that is leaving several inches of snow at the Steamboat Ski area, the skies should clear and the sun will reappear for Friday and the first part of Saturday. The lack of clouds tonight and the cold airmass will make for a cold start to Friday morning with temperatures falling below our average low of 20 F. The ever-lowering sun angle will make it difficult for temperatures to recover to our average high of 46 F on Friday.

We’ll see another chilly morning Saturday, but we should be much closer to our average high as a warmer airmass briefly settles over our area, even as high clouds begin to ovespread northern Colorado ahead of the next cold front.

Timed for Veterans Day on Sunday, the cold front will contain some very cold western Canadian air, but limited moisture, so only several inches of snow are expected through the likely raw day.

A ridge of high pressure will build eastward starting early in the work week and is forecast to reside over the Rockies by midweek. Temperatures will be slow to recover on Monday in the cold airmass, but there should be some warming, especially at the higher elevations on Tuesday, and warming at all elevations, along with more sun, by Wednesday.

A cool front that is currently forecast to be quite weak may brush northern Colorado around Thursday, and briefly interrupt the pleasant and seasonable weather that looks to continue into the following weekend. Since the opening of the Steamboat Ski area follows that weekend, I’ll mention, with the usual uncertainty disclaimer, that long-range forecasts indicate another storm may approach the West Coast around the end of the weekend.

Third storm in this cycle on track for later today

Sunday, November 4, 2018

The third and most powerful storm in this cycle that began last Thursday will start moderate to heavy snows over the Steamboat Springs area by this Sunday afternoon. Snow showers will taper off later Monday and linger through Tuesday before a colder and drier airmass moves over our area around midweek and heading into next weekend.

I’d like to mention that my timing in the last forecast discussion was close on the second storm in this series, which started Friday night, but not quite right, as we were short of my forecast (4-8” at mid-mountain and 6-12” up top) by first thing Saturday morning. However, the heavy showers starting Saturday morning behind the front in favorable cool and moist northwest flow brought the storm totals up to 6” at mid-mountain and 11” up top by the afternoon. For those skiers who base their ski day plans on the early morning ski report, take note!

In any event, I expect good things from the storm starting today in continued cool and moist northwest flow, with snows becoming moderate to heavy by sunset and continuing into the overnight hours. The bulk of the expected 6-12” at mid-mountain and 8-16” up top should occur overnight, but showers will continue through Monday as they taper off. Travel over the passes will once again be difficult, and high snowfall rates may make travel difficult at times even at the lower elevations.

Light and intermittent snow showers will persist for Tuesday before a series of fairly dry cold fronts pass through the region, currently timed for Wednesday, Thursday night and Saturday night. It will be cold enough for snow down to the Yampa Valley floor, though the dry nature of the fronts mean we’ll see only brief and likely non-accumulating snow showers as they pass.

Warmer and drier weather is advertised for the beginning of the next work week as the ridge of high pressure off the West Coast moves inland and over the Rockies. But more incoming Pacific energy behind the ridge keeps it moving to the east, with another round of active weather possible behind the exiting ridge.

Three storms lined up for the upcoming week

Thursday, November 1, 2018

After four inches of snow fell at the top of the Steamboat Ski area this Thursday morning (the Powdercam is back!), more snow is on the way as three more storms make their way over the Steamboat Springs area this upcoming week.

Snow showers will linger for today through Friday morning as favorable cool and moist northwest flow persists behind the departing storm last night. There may be a break in the weather Friday afternoon before the first upcoming storm in northwest flow crosses our area starting Friday evening, along with difficult travel conditions at pass level. Snows will start in the evening and be heaviest overnight with windy conditions, before tapering off through the day Saturday and leaving 4-8” at mid-mountain and 6-12” up top.

Another break in the weather is advertised for Saturday night, but will be quickly followed by a stronger and colder storm starting Sunday morning that is again forecast to move over our area in favorable northwest flow. Weather forecast models agree that this will be a longer duration event, with moderate to even heavy snows likely at peak times between noon on Sunday and noon on Monday before they taper off in the afternoon and end in the evening. I would expect an additional 6-12” at mid-mountain and 8-16” at the higher elevations from this second storm, with difficult travel conditions again likely.

Snows should cease from Monday night through most of Tuesday with still-cold temperatures well below our 50 F average. Another approaching storm in still favorable northwest flow will start the snow showers again by later Tuesday before they end later Wednesday as the storm passes through northern Colorado. While there looks to be less moisture associated with this storm as compared to Monday, it is forecast to be colder, so we may see another 3-6” of low-density, light and fluffy snow at mid-mountain by Wednesday afternoon if the storm stays on track.

Weather forecast models agree on an end-of-work-week break in this storm cycle before disagreeing on the southern extent and proximity of another possible storm for northern Colorado around next weekend.

Cold but mostly dry for Halloween

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Ahead of a cold but mostly dry Gulf of Alaska storm that will move piecemeal over the west starting today, warm temperatures well above our 52 F average and breezy westerly winds will grace the Steamboat Springs area this Sunday and most of Monday, with clouds encroaching on our region during the day Monday in advance of the storm.

The warm temperatures will disappear after Monday as a couple of dry cold fronts pass through our area starting around later Monday afternoon or overnight. The high temperature for Tuesday will be below average, and the second front Tuesday night will bring even cooler temperatures for Wednesday. Though temperatures will be cold enough for any precipitation to fall as snow over the Yampa Valley, there is only a chance of light snow showers for Tuesday, with Halloween likely remaining dry.

Meanwhile, a ridge of high pressure is forecast to build in the Gulf of Alaska by midweek behind the departing storm, and a couple of waves of Pacific energy and moisture traveling over the top of the ridge will move over our area on Thursday and Friday. We should see a good chance of light snow showers during the day Thursday and a better chance from Thursday night through Friday night in continued below average temperatures before a break occurs heading into the early part of next weekend.

Though next weekend may start warmer and drier, additional Pacific energy moves across the west in northwest flow brings more chances for precipitation around mid-weekend. Unsettled and cool weather in generally northwest flow looks to continue into the following work week as well.

Nice fall weekend ahead of colder and wetter weather

Thursday, October 25, 2018

The current cloudy skies in Steamboat Springs this Thursday afternoon are due to a wave of energy and moisture traveling down the east side of a flat ridge of high pressure to our west. Originally forecast in my last Sunday discussion to stay north and east of our area and arrive for Friday, the earlier arrival means warmer and sunnier weather for tomorrow, with high temperatures near our 54 F average.

The western ridge of high pressure will build over the weekend and move over our area leading to pleasant weather extending through Monday. A wave of Pacific energy and moisture is deflected to our north by the ridge around mid-weekend, and we should see breezy northwest winds with above average temperatures and some clouds on Saturday ahead of the wave, with less wind and slightly cooler temperatures for Sunday.

Warmer temperatures are expected Monday ahead of cooler and wetter weather that is still forecast for the rest of the work week as a strong Gulf of Alaska storm moves piecemeal over the west. The first part of the storm arrives around Monday night and will carry relatively dry but cold air originally sourced from the North Pole. A reinforcing wave of cold, but still relatively dry air is forecast for early in the day on Halloween, and we may see some light snow showers in the Yampa Valley on Tuesday and the first part of Wednesday during and behind these cold fronts.

A ridge of high pressure builds in the Gulf of Alaska behind the departing storm, and a much wetter Pacific storm moves over the top of the ridge and mixes with some cold air from Alaska around Tuesday. This should be a fairly significant weather maker for northern Colorado later Wednesday and Thursday as the storm will be accompanied by strong northwest winds and plenty of moisture. It is unclear whether the storm arrives early enough to affect Halloween activities for later Wednesday and whether it will be all snow in the Yampa Valley on Thursday, but snow above the valley floor will likely make travel over the passes difficult.

There is a lot of uncertainty for Friday and the following weekend as weather forecast models disagree on the track of another storm that may affect our area.

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