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Snows likely Wednesday followed by unsettled weather through the weekend

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Bluebird skies with seasonably cool temperatures are gracing the Steamboat Springs area this Sunday morning as a storm moves to our south and affects southern Colorado and northern New Mexico. Three relatively warm Pacific storms will bring chances for precipitation to our area through next weekend, with the coldest and strongest storm expected on Wednesday.

But first, the storm I discussed in the last forecast will end up south of our area, allowing for plenty of sun today with only the slightest chance of an insignificant afternoon shower at the highest elevations along the Continental Divide. Clouds currently to our south mark the northern boundary of the storm.

A weak disturbance passes north of our area early Monday morning, but only some clouds are expected through the day as temperatures approach our average high of 47 F.

Meanwhile, a Pacific storm traveling under a ridge of high pressure over Alaska will mix only slightly with some cool air from western Canada, as the ever-increasing sun angle this time of year makes cold air increasingly hard to come by at our latitude.

While this storm is expected to cross our area around Wednesday, warm southwest flow ahead of the storm will first bring increasing clouds during Tuesday with showers expected to follow by later in the day and through the overnight. These may be a rain or rain-snow mix in the Yampa Valley as weather forecast models disagree on temperatures, but precipitation would likely be a dense snow above 9000′ or so. However, these showers are difficult to forecast as coverage may be spotty.

Showers will pick up and snow levels lower on Wednesday as the storm passes before ending by around midnight. Snow amounts are again tough to forecast due to weather forecast model disagreement, with some predicting 3-6” and other closer to 5-10”, with the higher amounts at higher elevations.

A short break in the weather is timed for early Thursday as a transient ridge of high pressure briefly builds over our area before clouds and eventually showers appear ahead of the next warmer Pacific storm. This one looks to be weakly organized, chaotic and prone to splitting as it crosses the Great Basin leaving unsettled weather with a chance of showers for later in the day Thursday and Friday.

Another break in the weather is advertised for around Saturday behind what is left of the departing storm and the next approaching Pacific storm. This looks to be very similar to the storm immediately preceding it, albeit even weaker, and we may see some showers later Saturday into early Sunday as pieces of this storm move by.

The start of Closing Week for the Steamboat Ski Area looks to be seasonably warm and dry as a transient ridge of high pressure is advertised to travel over our area.

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.

Weather turns unsettled for the week ahead

Thursday, March 28, 2019

The unseasonably warm and sunny weather over the Steamboat Springs area this Thursday afternoon will give way to a a series of storms over the next week. Our best chances for snow look to occur from Friday through the weekend with seasonably cool temperatures and again around Wednesday and Thursday.

Currently, a strong storm spinning off the Pacific Northwest coast has been trapped under a ridge of high pressure that extends northward into Alaska the last few days. Another Pacific storm between Hawaii and California, which will eventually affect our weather midweek, will dislodge the Pacific Northwest storm and force it to move piecemeal across the Great Basin through the weekend, mixing with some cool western Canadian air as it moves east.

So after a mild night tonight, the leading part of the storm will bring a strong cold front through our area around mid-morning on Friday at which point snow showers will begin, even down in the Yampa Valley. Light to moderate, and at times heavy snow showers should continue through midnight or so, and I would expect 3-6” to fall at mid-mountain while the lifts are spinning and another 3-6” to fall after that.

Showers may end for a time, or not, early Saturday as the second main piece of the storm approaches. Even at this close range, there is uncertainty in the weather forecast models with how this second storm evolves, with some briefly energizing the storm as it passes near our area. While Saturday afternoon snow showers are a possibility, we may see some better snowfall Saturday night as the storm briefly stalls over western Colorado, and again during the day Sunday as the storm moves to our south, possibly resulting in some favorable cool, moist and unstable northwest flow. At this point, along with seasonably cool temperatures, we could see anything from a partly sunny day with afternoon snow showers, or more accumulating snow.

Monday and Tuesday will stay seasonably cool, along with the chance of afternoon snow showers before temperatures dramatically warm again ahead of next advancing Pacific storm that was responsible for moving the weekend storm over our area.

Again, weather forecast models disagree on the amount of cool air from western Canada that mixes with this storm, but agree on another unsettled weather pattern beginning late Tuesday or Wednesday. Snow amounts are uncertain, though it looks like our best chance for accumulating snows will be behind the cold front associated with the storm, which is forecast to cross the area around Wednesday night or Thursday. Snows will then become more showery by Friday before a break in the weather is advertised for the following weekend.

I absolutely love this super-warm split-finger mitten-glove! 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.

Mostly sunny and warm follows weak storm today

Sunday, March 24, 2019

A weak and becoming weaker storm currently just to our west will cross the Steamboat Springs area this afternoon. Snow on the hill and mixed rain-snow in the valley will last through the evening before skies clear on Monday and temperatures warm to well above average by midweek, along with plenty of sun. Another end-of-workweek storm will bring a round of unsettled weather that now looks to end by the following weekend.

Currently, the storm to our west is weakening as the southern end of the storm to our south advances faster than the northern end of the storm to our north. This has slowed the progression of weather into our area, with showers not beginning till the afternoon. Furthermore, the split storm will bring less snow to the hill than I originally thought, with only 1-4” expected for the Monday morning mid-mountain ski report, with most of that falling before midnight.

Clouds and possibly light showers may linger in northwest flow Monday morning as the northern end of the storm passes, but skies should clear and temperature warm during the day as a building ridge of high pressure moves over the western states.

Tuesday and Wednesday look to be the warmest days of the week as lots of sun and a warm airmass allow high temperatures in the valley to reach the mid-fifties or higher, which is at least ten degrees above our average of 45 F.

Meanwhile, a strong Pacific storm currently off the West Coast is forecast to loiter south of the Gulf of Alaska for a few days as a ridge of high pressure builds to its north. Waves of Pacific energy traveling over the ridge and down its eastern side are forecast to push some cold air from western Canada into the storm, eventually forcing it eastward.

However, there is substantial weather forecast model disagreement on how far the ridge of high pressure over the Gulf bulges eastward, and this affects the eventual track and strength of storm and how cold it will be.

Right now, it appears that most of the storm will cross the northern California coast around Wednesday, bringing heavy snowfall to the northern Sierras and most of the Cascades. The storm will move piecemeal across the Great Basin Thursday through Saturday, and we’ll see warm southwest flow increasing on Wednesday and early Thursday ahead of the storm.

Showers are advertised to start as early as Thursday afternoon as moisture and energy move over our area during the day. Though they may start as rain showers at the lower elevations, cold air associated with the storm will lower snow levels to the Yampa Valley floor overnight and into Friday. Though I expect changes in the forecasts, current guidance points toward 6-12” of snow at mid-mountain between Thursday night and Friday afternoon.

Earlier weather forecast models indicated a slow moving storm that would affect us though the following weekend, but current guidance has our snow ending by Friday night as the western part of the storm still over the Great Basin receives an influx of cold air from western Canada, forcing it southward into the Desert Southwest. If this happens, a seasonably cool and dry Saturday will be followed by a chilly Sunday morning that quickly warms under an increasingly strong springtime sun.

Stop battling cold feet! I’ve used the awesome Hotronic foot warmers from their beginnings, and can honestly say that each iteration of the product is better than the last. I have the S4 custom, attached to my powerstrap so they never fall off, and my toes stay warm for my entire ski day.

Unsettled weather through the weekend followed by another dose of spring

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Clouds have spread over the Steamboat Springs area on the first full day of spring this Thursday afternoon as a warm storm approaches. We’ll see a chance of showers producing low-elevation rain and higher-elevation snow this evening and again later Friday before there will be a downturn in precipitation chances for the first half of Saturday. A second weak storm quickly follows for Sunday with a better chance of more persistent precipitation before a ridge of high pressure builds over the western states and brings dry and seasonably warm temperatures to our area through midweek.

The warm storm currently to our southwest will travel across southern Colorado on Friday, and some energy ejecting out ahead of the storm will bring a chance of showers to our area this evening, with rain or a rain-snow mix at lower elevations and snow with minimal accumulations at the higher elevations.

The main storm passes south of our area on Friday, and showers should increase in the afternoon and early evening, possibly becoming moderate to heavy for a time. Again, a rain-snow mix is likely at the lower elevations except in the heavier showers where snow levels will lower. If we are fortunate enough to see the heavier showers pass by, we could see 1-4” of accumulations at mid-mountain which would be reported Saturday morning.

Precipitation chances should decrease around Saturday morning for a time, and increase again later in the day as temperatures rise in the seasonably cool and unstable airmass behind the departing storm.

A second weak storm trailing the first is forecast to pass over our area on Sunday around noon, and I expect better precipitation as we will see better northwest flow. Another 2-5” of snow at mid-mountain is possible during the day Sunday and into the evening, with a rain-snow mix at lower elevations. Precipitation is forecast to end by midnight as the airmass dries ahead of a building ridge of high pressure over the western states.

Any clouds early Monday should give way to plenty of sun and warming temperatures through midweek under the influence of the ridge of high pressure, with high temperatures by Wednesday forecast to be five or ten degrees above our average of 44 F.

Around Thursday, a stronger and much colder storm is forecast to begin affecting our area with another unsettled weekend advertised by the weather forecast models.

Start your ski day with toasty warm and dry boots! I use a boot dryer/warmer after every ski day, and the Happy Feet Dry-n-Warm boot dryer would be my choice if I ever had to replace my 30 year old and no-longer-manufactured look-alike. Just insert into your ski boots at the end of the day and leave them plugged in overnight. They become only slightly warmer than your body temperature so are safe to be plugged in for all footwear for days on end, though only overnight is needed for even the soggiest of liners. The ski boots are then thoroughly dry and toasty warm to start your next ski day!

Lots of sun before weather turns unsettled after midweek

Sunday, March 17, 2019

The Steamboat Springs area is seeing its second sunny day in a row this Sunday, which has been an infrequent occurrence during this active winter season. We should see a fair bit of sunshine along with seasonably cool temperatures through midweek before an approaching Pacific storm spreads first clouds and then showers over our area as soon as Thursday, with unsettled weather forecast to continue through next weekend.

A ridge of high pressure over the West Coast is responsible for our current pleasant weather, and weak and dry waves of energy traveling over or through the ridge will keep the seasonably cool temperatures around through midweek. One of these waves looks to bring some clouds to our area by Monday afternoon that may last into or possibly through Tuesday, depending on how quickly we see the dry air behind the grazing storm.

Meanwhile, a large and cold storm between Hawaii and the West Coast splits as it approaches the West Coast ridge of high pressure, with the southern section warming as it it moves slowly underneath the ridge. By Tuesday night, the storm is forecast to cross the West Coast, likely bringing our warmest day of the week on Wednesday in weak southwest flow ahead of the storm.

The storm is forecast to lumber across the Great Basin around Thursday and Friday, and first clouds around Wednesday night and then showers by Thursday are expected as bits of energy and moisture are ejected out ahead of the storm.

Weather forecast models disagree on details regarding the track and speed of the storm, but seasonably warm weather with a chance of rain showers at the lower elevations and snow showers at the higher elevations are most likely on Thursday and perhaps Friday as well.

Another Pacific storm follows quickly on the path of the first, crossing the West Coast later Friday before traveling across the Great Basin on Saturday. There may be a downturn in the showery weather on Saturday, but the weather should turn more active again on Sunday and lasting into Monday as we see some favorable moist and unstable northwest flow as the storm passes. However, cold air is absent from this storm, as was the case with the first, so best accumulations will likely be at the higher elevations.

There may be a brief break in the unsettled weather after the weekend by later Monday into some of Tuesday before a colder Pacific storm looks to start precipitation up again around midweek.

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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