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A week of snow starts tonight

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Well, I hope you enjoyed the last three days of spring-like weather in Steamboat Springs because winter returns starting tonight, with possibly a week of snowfall ahead. Light snowfall starts later today on this Wednesday and will be followed by several waves of likely heavy snowfall that will persist through next Monday. A short break is currently advertised by the weather forecast models for around Tuesday before the snow machine starts up again around midweek.

The weather pattern over the West has been dominated by a large ridge of high pressure over the Gulf of Alaska with a strong and cold storm loitering off the Pacific Northwest coast near the base of the ridge. All of the weather action has stayed north of our area these past few days, but that is going to change starting tonight as another upstream Pacific storm is shunted to the south of the ridge in the gulf. As this storm moves east toward the West Coast, it forces the Pacific Northwest storm to eject pieces of energy and moisture that will begin moving over our area starting tonight.

While this storm cycle will start small, with only 1-4” of relatively dense overnight snow expected by the Thursday morning mid-mountain report, it will ramp up by Thursday afternoon as a stronger piece of energy drags a modest cold front across our area overnight. Winds should briefly turn to be from the west-northwest as snowfall intensifies, leaving 5-10” of fluffier and less-dense snow for the Friday morning report, with an additional 1-4” of Steamboat Magic falling before noon.

Additional pieces of the original Pacific Northwest storm travel along what becomes a stationary front aligned roughly along the northern borders of Nevada, Utah and Colorado, and keeps snow showers going for the rest of Friday into early Saturday. Showers will wax and wane along the undulating front, but I would think another 1-4” during Friday afternoon and overnight are possible for a wide-ranging 2-8” guess at the Saturday morning snow report.

At this point, what is left of the Pacific Northwest storm will move just north of our area early on Saturday even as the next Pacific storm that moved underneath the Gulf of Alaska ridge races across the Great Basin and moves just south of our area by Saturday night. The combination of these two storm systems should keep moderate to heavy snows going from early Saturday though early Sunday, with 8-16” of new snow expected by the Sunday morning mid-mountain report.

But wait, there’s more! After these two storm move east of Colorado by Sunday, winds turn to our favorable northwest direction carrying moist and unstable air over the Park mountain range. Persistent light to sometimes moderate orographic, or terrain driven, snowfall is expected from Sunday through Monday afternoon or evening.

At this point, I’ll stop guessing at snowfall amounts since our snowfall will be dependent upon the location and timing of the best moisture and upward motion, and all of these things are changing with each new weather forecast model iteration. But more significant accumulations are very likely by Monday evening.

A short break is advertised for around Tuesday before another Pacific storm takes the same southern trajectory underneath the persistent Gulf of Alaska ridge and crosses the West Coast around midweek. More significant snowfall is likely for much of the West through the rest of the work week and into the following weekend.

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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1 July 2021

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