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Long duration storm cycle starts Wednesday afternoon

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Snows have started in earnest this Wednesday afternoon in Steamboat Springs as the first in a series of storms moves across our area tonight. Two more storms will follow centered around Thursday and Friday nights, with the second one warmer and wetter than the first one and the last one much colder than the previous two. Snow showers will likely continue through most of a cold Washington’s Birthday weekend before ending by Monday as very cold air settles over the Yampa Valley. We could be looking at between twenty and forty inches of snow at mid-mountain by the time the storm cycle ends Sunday night.

Earlier in the week, the current storm had moved through a ridge of high pressure over the Gulf of Alaska and mixed with some cold western Canadian air. The southern section of the storm was left behind well off the coast southwest of southern California and will play a part in the wet and warm second storm for Thursday night. But for tonight, the northern part of the storm will bring moderate to heavy snows and westerly winds that will likely create difficult travel conditions.

I would expect 8-16” at mid-mountain for the Thursday morning report, with some Steamboat Magic continuing accumulations through noon at which point snows should diminish, but likely not stop during the afternoon.

Meanwhile, another Pacific storm, which will eventually become our third storm Friday night, travels over the top of the Gulf of Alaska ridge of high pressure and mixes with some air from the North Pole. This forces the wet and warm southern portion of the first storm over our area Thursday night with rising temperatures and more windy westerly to southwesterly flow. Snow will turn moderate to heavy again overnight with difficult travel conditions continuing, with another 6-12” of dense snow for the Friday morning ski report.

Weather forecast models have trended towards a break in the snow during the day Friday that may extend into the early evening, which will be the best time for travel, before the third storm in this series rotates inland across the Great Basin and begins moderate to heavy snows by Friday night. This storm will be the coldest of the three, and snows should be of the much fluffier low-density variety. The timing of the storm is still in question leading to uncertainty in the cold Saturday morning ski report, but by noon I would expect another 6-12” of snow at mid-mountain.

Meanwhile, another cold Pacific storm reinforces the cold air over much of the West through the end of the weekend and early next week. Snows will become more showery starting Saturday afternoon and continuing though the weekend before becoming very light or ending on Washington’s Birthday. The cold air will stick around for Tuesday and Wednesday as another very cold storm approaches our area, and there is considerable forecast uncertainty as to how this storm will develop.

I absolutely love this super-warm split-finger mitten-glove, and it’s perfect for the very cold week ahead! 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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