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Cold and generally unsettled weather on tap this week

Sunday, February 17, 2019

After thirty-three inches of snow fell at the top of the Steamboat Ski Area since Wednesday afternoon and raised the base up there to an even 100”, the currently sunny skies this Sunday morning over Steamboat Springs should give way to some scattered snow showers this afternoon. The upcoming work week will feature more cold and periods of light snow each day before moderating temperatures and drying skies are forecast starting around next weekend.

The current weather over the U.S. is dominated by an expansive trough of low pressure covering the western two thirds of the country downstream of a strong and dominant ridge of high pressure over the Gulf of Alaska. Several waves of energy and moisture will travel down the eastern periphery of the ridge off the West Coast, continuing the cold temperatures and chances for light snow over our area through the work week.

The first such wave will bring significant snowfall to southern Colorado, and we will see increasing chances of light snow the afternoon of Washington’s Birthday and overnight, though only 2-5” of fluffy low-density snow are expected by the Tuesday morning mid-mountain ski report.

Light snowfall is expected to continue during the day Tuesday as the storm passes south of our area and brings a reinforcing surge of cold air that will lead to steady or falling temperatures during the afternoon.

A quite cold Wednesday morning, especially if skies clear, should have 1-4” of snow for the morning ski report, with clouds increasing in the afternoon and maybe some isolated snow showers.

What appears to be the last storm in this cold series drops down the West Coast on Wednesday and starts light snow showers again over our area by Thursday afternoon. Trailing energy overnight and into Friday makes for an uncertain forecast as timing and position are difficult to forecast in this relatively chaotic atmospheric flow, but it does appear we will see some favorable, moist and unstable light northwest flow over our area by later Friday and into the overnight. This should lead to some accumulating snows that would be reported on a quite cold Saturday morning.

Meanwhile, additional Pacific energy looks to undercut the Gulf of Alaska ridge sometime around next weekend, and this may allow westerly flow to penetrate inland and bring warmer weather to the southern half of the West. I expect the details to change with such a major adjustement to the global circulation pattern, but right now the first half of next weekend looks cold and dry while the second half looks much warmer with some light snow showers possible along a frontal boundary separating the cold air to our north from the warmer air to our south.

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.

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