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Summery weather for the upcoming week

Thursday, May 30, 2019

After another 17” of snow fell atop Mt. Werner in about 17 hours on Tuesday, along with a high temperature of 40 F in the town of Steamboat Springs (27 F below our average!), the weather will turn more seasonable for the upcoming week.

Over 1.5” of liquid water or liquid water equivalent fell from the Tuesday storm, which is the second such occurrence in consecutive weeks in our very stormy May. June is only two days away, and winter-weary residents can finally expect summery weather to appear over the upcoming week as the forecast calls for mostly sunny skies and warming temperatures with the chance of an afternoon storm.

Though another Pacific storm is currently sliding down the West Coast, a ridge of high pressure over the southern Rockies is forecast to build behind a cold series of storms developing over the eastern U.S. This ridge will temporarily keep the Pacific storm spinning in southern California during the weekend and early next week before it eventually moves over our area around midweek.

Until then, high temperatures will warm towards our average of 68 F tomorrow and settle in a range that is five to ten degrees above average for the weekend and early next week. There will be a chance of afternoon and early evening storms through the weekend as the strong late spring sun cooks moisture in the atmosphere, though there is disagreement among the weather forecast models as to whether energy ejecting out of the southern California storm will be close enough to force stronger and more numerous storms for Sunday.

In any event, much drier air is forecast to overrun our area in southwest flow on Monday and Tuesday that will decrease or eliminate the chance of afternoon showers and keep our warm temperatures around.

The California storm is forecast to move east when the series of cold eastern U.S. storms move east, and the current forecast has clouds increasing by midweek as the storm approaches our area. The storm will have lost most of its cold air by then, so unsettled weather along with temperatures near or a bit below average can be expected for Wednesday and Thursday.

After that, another cold Pacific storm is forecast to cross the West Coast near the end of the work week, though weather forecast models disagree on how fast the storm will move near our area and how cold it may be.

Unsettled weather to close out May

Sunday, May 26, 2019

The warm and sunny weather this Sunday morning in Steamboat Springs will last into Memorial Day morning before another cold and wet storm brings more low elevation rain and high elevation snow to north-central Colorado. The storm will last through Tuesday before the weather moderates for the rest of the work week and following weekend, though unsettled conditions and cool temperatures below our average high of 67 F will persist.

A cold and wet storm currently over north-central California will be pushed eastward across the Great Basin through the day Monday by more incoming Pacific energy. Some energy and moisture rounding the storm will increase the chances of afternoon and evening storms today that will at least initially produce more wind than rain as the lower levels of the atmosphere are dry.

While Memorial Day will start out warm and sunny, a cold front associated with the approaching storms moves through our area sometime later in the day, perhaps as early as noon, and brings falling temperatures with increasing chances of precipitation. The storm will pass over our area Monday night, but cold temperatures around twenty five degrees below average, precipitation and breezy northerly and northwesterly winds will make for quite the raw and stormy day on Tuesday. We could see around an inch of liquid water or liquid water equivalent from the storm by Tuesday night, with around 6” of snow at the top of Mt. Werner, about half that at pass level, less down to around 8,000′ and snowflakes possible in town.

Precipitation will turn more showery on Wednesday in the cold and moist unstable northwesterly flow behind the storm, and though the valley may see periods of sun between showers, the upper elevations will likely stay in the clouds.

Though temperatures will warm behind the storm, they will stay on the cool side of average for the rest of the work week and heading into the weekend as hard-to-time waves of Pacific energy and moisture continue to move over our area. For what it’s worth, current forecasts have Thursday being the least unsettled day of the upcoming week, though even then, afternoon storms are possible.

Storms to bookend Memorial Day Weekend

Thursday, May 23, 2019

A finally warm and sunny Thursday morning in the Steamboat Springs area was marred only by strong and gusty easterly winds ahead of the next storm timed for this afternoon. Some weather normalcy will return for most of the long Memorial Day weekend before an additional cold and wet storm brings another round of beneficial precipitation with more higher-elevation snow to our area later on Monday.

But first, the very impressive late-spring storm earlier this week brought close to 1.5” of liquid equivalent to some locations in the Yampa Valley from Monday afternoon through Wednesday afternoon along with several inches of mid-May snowfall. We also saw about 15” of snow on the Powdercam near the top of Mt. Werner with the Tower Snotel reporting 1.7” of water, and about a foot at the Rabbit Ears Snotel that contained 2.3” of water!

After a sunny, warm and windy Thursday morning, clouds will increase ahead of the next strong cold front that should arrive around mid-afternoon as a large piece of a storm in the Great Basin ejects over our area. Though we may see some snowflakes in the valley, we could see another 2-5” of snow around 10,000′ and half that down to around 8,000′.

Precipitation should should taper off overnight after the storm passes, with plenty of sun and some warming, but still seasonably cool temperatures forecast for Friday. There will be a chance of afternoon showers as the strong May sun cooks the remaining moisture in the atmosphere.

But even as this storm departs, another strong and cold Pacific storm slides down the West Coast through the first half of the weekend and moves across the Great Basin on Monday. Ahead of that storm, temperatures will warm in southwest flow under plenty of sun towards our average of 66 F on both Saturday and Sunday, with a chance of afternoon or early evening showers each day.

At some point on Memorial Day, another strong cold front associated with the Great Basin storm will push through our area, though there is weather forecast model disagreement on whether this happens early or late in the day. In any event, the front will mark the beginning of another period of stormy weather and unseasonably cold temperatures that will last through midweek at least. Over an inch of liquid water equivalent is possible with accumulating snows once again likely at the higher elevation.

There is forecast uncertainty after that as it is not clear if more incoming Pacific energy tracks across the Great Basin, continuing the unsettled weather, or forms an eddy near southern California that allows us to dry out for the end of the work week.

April-like weather persists for the work week

Sunday, May 19, 2019

The weather in Steamboat Springs has felt more like April than May since Friday when the first storm in a complicated weather pattern brought 8” of snow to the top of Mt. Werner by Saturday morning, about 4” to Rabbit Ears Pass and about 0.4” of rain to the Yampa Valley. More high elevation snow and low elevation rain is forecast for much of the upcoming work week before quieter weather appears for at least part of the long Memorial Day weekend.

The current cold and wet weather pattern is courtesy of a series of storms in a very active Pacific jet stream. After a brief break between storms late yesterday, the mostly cloudy conditions early this Sunday afternoon may give way to showers later in the day ahead of the next storm currently crossing the California coast.

Showers look to be on and off through the first half of Monday with continued unseasonably cool temperatures before another incoming Pacific storm forces the first California storm across the Desert Southwest during the day and very near our area by Monday night. This storm has a lot of moisture and enough cold air to once again bring snowflakes down to the Yampa Valley floor.

Moderate to heavy precipitation is expected from Monday afternoon through Tuesday night, with precipitation becoming lighter and eventually more showery on Wednesday. We’ll likely see well over an inch of liquid water or liquid water equivalent from this storm and snow totals of 8-16” above 10,000′, with half that at 9,000′. Travel should be difficult at pass levels during this period.

By Wednesday, precipitation should become more showery as the storm is forced first north and then anomalously west by the combination of the strong storm sliding down the California coast and a building ridge of high pressure over the southeastern U.S.

Any breaks in precipitation are likely to be brief as part of the Tuesday storm moves across the northern U.S. border and part eventually merges with the California storm to our west. The evolution of this combined storm will likely change before it affects our area, but right it looks to split, with a large piece moving near our area later Thursday and a smaller piece staying behind in California and merging with yet another incoming Pacific storm.

So another round of moderate to heavy precipitation is advertised for later Thursday, with snowflakes once again possible to the Yampa Valley floor and accumulating snows above 8,000′ or so.

If the atmosphere behaves as predicted, the southeastern U.S. ridge of high pressure briefly bulges into Colorado on Friday, interrupting the procession of storms over our area. Though Friday will be noticeably drier than the previous week, seasonably cool temperatures with a chance of afternoon showers can be expected.

For the long Memorial Day weekend, there is a fair bit of uncertainty as our region will be caught in a battle between three air masses; namely the warmer and drier one associated with the southeastern U.S. ridge of high pressure, the stormier one from southern California and now a cold and moist one from the northern latitudes. Though the timing is uncertain, it appears we will have at least one push of cool and moist air from the north around mid-weekend that would bookend drier but still seasonably cool weather.

Cool and wet weather to dominate the upcoming week

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Despite mostly cloudy skies, the Steamboat Springs area is currently seeing temperatures five to ten degrees above our average of 63 F this Thursday afternoon. But that changes tonight as the first in a series of Pacific storms brings cold air and showery precipitation back to the region that will last through Saturday. After a brief respite from the precipitation during the first half of Sunday, the unsettled weather could turn stormier with wet weather possible for almost every day in the following work week.

A broad area of low pressure over much of the northern Pacific will spawn a series of storms that will continue our active, wet and cool spring. Today will be the last day for a while with temperatures around 70 F as a storm currently crossing the West Coast heads inland. Breezy southwesterly winds ahead of the storm will turn westerly as the initial cold and showery front passes through the area tonight, followed by more cold air and eventual northwest flow through Saturday. Though accumulating snows will occur above 9000′ or so, snowflakes will be possible down to the Yampa Valley floor by later Friday into Saturday morning.

The cold and unsettled weather will persist through Saturday night as the storm passes near our area, though we will see some warming during the day. The resultant lifting snow levels during the daylight hours will quickly fall by nighttime, once again bringing the chance of snowflakes to the valley bottom.

By Sunday morning, a shallow and transitory ridge of high pressure builds behind the departing storm and in advance of our next more potent weather-maker. This storm is forecast to cross the West Coast mid-weekend and affect our area with more breezy showers ahead of the storm by later in the day Sunday.

This storm looks to be not quite as cold, but wetter than the preceding storm. The storm track is uncertain as another incoming storm crosses the West Coast early in the work week and moves southward across California. These two storms will behave like a see-saw as the leading storm near our area is forced northward by the southward-moving storm over California. And because the Pacific ocean has a paucity of meteorological observations, weather forecast models disagree on the southern extent of the California storm and the resultant northern extent of the storm moving over our area.

Generally, seasonably cool weather can be expected through most of the work week, with at least showers and possibly heavier, more persistent precipitation, depending on the evolution of the West Coast storm.

There is lots of forecast uncertainty heading into and for the Memorial Day weekend as it is not clear how far inland the next salvo of Pacific storms will reach.

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