Warm work week turns unsettled for the weekend
Sunday, May 12, 2019
The weather is beautiful this Mother’s Day in Steamboat Springs with high temperatures expected to rise just above our average of 63 F, along with a few passing clouds and breezy westerly afternoon winds. Even warmer temperatures are expected through most of the coming work week, along with the typical chance of an afternoon shower. But the weather turns unsettled heading into the weekend thanks to an energetic Pacific jet stream that is forecast to brings several waves of moisture and energy across our region.
As a storm spins along the southwestern U.S. border with Mexico, a ridge of high pressure is forecast to build over the west through most of the work week. Temperatures will warm into the upper sixties and seventies along with the chance of some afternoon showers as any residual moisture trapped underneath the ridge is lifted by the strong May sun. We should also see an increase in the river flows as low temperatures at the higher elevations stay above freezing and the high elevation snowpack begins to melt.
Pieces of a strong storm in the Bering Sea are forecast to begin crossing the West Coast around midweek or soon after and move the ridge of high pressure eastward. Moisture and southwest winds will increase ahead of these waves by later Thursday, with some stronger storms possible by the evening.
The leading wave will carry a storm with a strong cold front through our area around Friday, though the exact timing is currently uncertain, along with precipitation that will be rain at all but the highest elevations. This will start a period of unsettled weather that looks to last through next weekend and into the beginning of the following work week.
Warmer weather returns this weekend as storm system departs
Thursday, May 9, 2019
The Steamboat Springs area is currently experiencing temperatures over twenty degrees below our average of 62 F this Thursday afternoon as several storms passing near our area have brought cold air, but very little precipitation. We’ll see the sun on Friday along with warmer temperatures, though they won’t warm to near average until the weekend, at which point lawnmowers around town may be broken out after a long winter to trim the fast-growing grasses. Then, the previous active weather pattern takes a break as warm and mostly sunny weather sticks around for the following work week, along with a chance of typical afternoon showers.
The easterly wind yesterday that was associated with one of the several pieces of this storm system put the kibosh on our precipitation chances as downsloping winds off the Park Range to our east dried the airmass. Another piece of the storm system approaching from the north is currently splitting around our area, and with energy moving to our southwest toward southern California and northeast, we are now left only with clouds, cold air and some light and intermittent showers.
Temperatures will moderate to seasonably cool on Friday, along with the appearance of the sun. The southern California storm is forecast to move across the southern U.S. border by late in the weekend and early next week, too far south of our area to bring any weather to northern Colorado. But we are grazed by a cold and dry system from the north on Saturday, and we may see a shower ahead of that later Friday, with temperatures warming to near average during the day Saturday.
Mother’s Day looks to be a nice one, with plenty of sun and temperatures above average.
And the warm temperatures look to stick around for the rest of the work week as a ridge of high pressure builds over the west. While Sunday and Monday will likely be dry, there will be a chance of some afternoon showers for the rest of the week as any moisture remaining over our area is recirculated underneath the ridge and cooked by the strong-and-getting-stronger May sun.
Longer-term forecasts have pieces of a potent storm over the Bering Sea moving inland around next weekend, and that may restart a period of unsettled weather.
Wet and cool weather returns for Wednesday and Thursday
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.
Warmer and drier weather ahead of another storm system for next week
Thursday, May 2, 2019
Steamboat Springs is drying out this Thursday behind an impressive spring storm that brought 3 days of rain, snow, hail, wind, thunder and cold temperatures to our area. Drier weather and warmer temperatures are expected through the weekend before another couple of storms combine to bring more inclement weather back to Colorado starting around Tuesday and lasting into the following weekend.
The previous storm brought almost 1.5” of liquid water and an inch or two of snow to Steamboat Springs, 2” of liquid water and about 8” of snow to mid-mountain, and about 2.2” of liquid water and 15” of snow to the top of Mt. Werner. Today, a weak cool front associated with a trailing wave behind the storm will keep our high temperatures below our average high of 58 F and our average low of 31 F tonight.
Temperatures will warm to near average on Friday and above average on Saturday before another weak cool front associated with a storm well to our north is dragged through our area later in the day. We may see some showers Saturday afternoon and into the overnight along with a cool Sunday morning as the front moves through. Showers may redevelop again later Sunday as temperatures warm.
Monday will likely be the last warm and mostly dry day for the work week, save for possible afternoon showers, before a couple of storms move over our area around Tuesday. Similar to this past week, we’ll again have a wet and warm storm currently between Hawaii and California merging with a much colder storm traveling through the Gulf of Alaska.
Though the details will undoubtedly change in the weather forecast models as the storms approach, another stretch of cool weather with significant precipitation is looking likely starting Tuesday and extending through at least the work week. And because the Gulf of Alaska will mix with some still very cold air over western Canada, snow will again be likely at the higher elevations and possible even down to the Yampa Valley floor at times. Stay tuned to my next weather narrative on Sunday for further details.