Sunday, May 5, 2019
The Steamboat Springs area is experiencing a mostly sunny and beautiful Cinco de Mayo this Sunday afternoon as temperatures have already reached 64 F, four degrees higher than average. Save for a chance of some afternoon showers along with gusty winds today and Monday, the warm and mostly dry weather will stick around through Tuesday before a series of Pacific storms bring inclement weather back to our area starting Wednesday. Cool and wet weather will persist through Thursday, with accumulating snows at higher elevations again likely, before we see drying during Friday and next weekend.
The quiet stretch of weather for today and tomorrow belies the complicated weather pattern that will evolve over the west this week. The key features are two warm storms caught underneath a ridge of high pressure over the Gulf of Alaska, an active Pacific jet stream and some still-cold air over the Canadian Plains.
Several waves of Pacific energy and moisture will travel over the Gulf of Alaska ridge and briefly mix with some of the cold air in Canada. They will then travel southward, with the first wave dislodging the first warm storm, currently crossing the southern California coast, across the Great Basin on Tuesday. Winds will become breezy out of the southwest as dry air from the Desert Southwest is carried over our area.
By Tuesday night or early Wednesday, a second wave rounding the Gulf of Alaska ridge moves the first initially warm Pacific storm over Colorado. Showers are forecast to become widespread by early Wednesday before a cold front passes during the day, allowing for accumulating snow at the higher elevations and possibly a mix of rain and snow at the Yampa Valley floor by the evening and overnight.
Meanwhile, a third Pacific wave rounding the Gulf of Alaska ridge splits as it head southward, with some of the wave keeping cold air and showers over our area through Thursday and some of the wave heading to our southwest and merging with the second warm Pacific storm approaching the southern California coast. If current forecasts verify, this complex weather system could leave 6-12” of snow at the higher elevations by Friday, along with 1-2” of liquid or liquid equivalent for all elevations.
Weather forecast models currently agree that our area will dry out Friday under seasonably cool temperatures as we are caught between the warm storm to our southwest and cold air to our north. Furthermore, the Gulf of Alaska ridge is forecast to move inland behind a fourth Pacific wave that may drag a dry and weak cool front through our area on Saturday, keeping the cool temperatures around for the first half of the weekend. Temperatures then warm to finish out the weekend for what is now advertised as a beautiful Mother’s Day.