Sunday, January 20, 2019
The Steamboat Springs area is taking a break this Sunday from the very productive storm cycle that started last Wednesday. After a precipitation-free day today, much colder air follows for the next storm starting around noon on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Another storm approaches for later Wednesday with a fair bit of forecast uncertainty heading into the weekend.
In review, the SNOTEL (Snow Telemetry) sites at Tower and Rabbit Ears remotely reported 4.2” and 3.5” of Liquid Water Equivalent (LWE - a measure of the amount of liquid in the snow), respectively, between Wednesday and Saturday morning. This was the result of two storms with a sub-tropical moisture tap; the first started Wednesday and dropped 6” at mid-mountain and 8” up top by Thursday morning and the second very impressive storm started Thursday around sunset and mostly ended by sunset Friday. By 1 pm on Friday, the Steamboat Ski Area reported 22” at mid-mountain and 29” up top in the last 24 hours, with almost all of that in occurring in the preceding 20 hours!
Our next storm will contain much colder air, and light snow showers will start on the hill by around noon on Monday. Snows should turn moderate to heavy at times during the afternoon or evening before tapering off after midnight, likely making travel difficult for those headed home after the three day holiday. The wind direction for our area is not ideal as it may have too much of a northerly component for much of the storm, and may even have an easterly component for a time, but the strong forcing and unstable atmosphere may conspire to produce 5-10” of increasingly fluffy powder by the chilly Tuesday morning ski report.
As a ridge of high pressure builds over and off the West Coast early in the week, energy and moisture riding over the top of the ridge will impact our area starting on Wednesday, with light snow showers likely during the day. Snowfall should pick up around sunset and continue overnight before becoming light early on Thursday, with showers possibly continuing until the evening. The timing and placement of the waves of energy and moisture are still changing in the weather forecast models as they are hard to predict in the fast northwesterly flow, but at this point another 5-10” of fluffy low-density snowfall is possible by Thursday morning.
Weather forecast models have additional Pacific energy and moisture approaching and battling the ridge of high pressure off the West Coast by late in the work week and the weekend, but are struggling with the details of how this energy moves over, under or through the ridge of high pressure. The outcome of this battle will determine our weather headed into next weekend.
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.