Thursday, October 17, 2019
Clouds have overspread the Steamboat Springs area this Thursday morning ahead of the first of two storms expected through the beginning of the upcoming work week. The first storm will be a weak quick-hitter with precipitation starting after midnight tonight and ending before noon on Friday. Saturday will be an in-between day before the stronger and colder storm moves in Saturday night and lingers through Tuesday.
Ahead of the first storm currently bringing precipitation to the Pacific Northwest, clouds have limited the warming seen yesterday, with noontime temperatures running a few degrees behind yesterday. Breaks in the clouds will help temperatures warm today above our average of 58 F, but they will likely not reach our high of 69 F observed yesterday.
The first storm will travel across the Great Basin today and pass through our area early Friday. While the elevations above 8000′ or so will receive several inches of snow, the upper Yampa Valley will be right on the edge of the rain-snow line. I think we will see snowflakes in town for a time in the morning, with some minor accumulations briefly possible on non-paved surfaces. But we should see some sun in the afternoon which would quickly melt any lower-elevation snow on the ground.
Saturday will be an in-between day with mostly sunny skies early giving way to increasing clouds later and high temperatures five to ten degrees below average.
Meanwhile, the second colder and stronger storm, currently near the Aleutian Islands, will race across the Gulf of Alaska on Friday and cross the Pacific Northwest coast on Saturday. This storm will be cold enough for snow down to the valley bottom, with any rain showers Saturday evening quickly changing to snow before midnight.
This will be a good winter-like storm as it strengthens after moving to our east on Sunday. It should be snowing Sunday morning with relatively light and fluffy snow, with cold, moist and windy northwest flow producing 6-12” of snow at the higher elevations and 3-6” of snow in town by the end of a wintry Sunday, with high temperatures in the thirties. While travel will almost certainly be difficult over Rabbit Ears Pass during the storm, travel difficulties may extend to the I-70 corridor as they will receive less, but likely still significant snow.
As the storm moves into the upper Midwest later Sunday and Monday, continued northwest flow will keep orographic, or terrain-driven, snow showers going even in town, with additional accumulations of 1-4” confined to the higher elevations by the end of Monday. Though snow showers will taper off in town by Monday night, the continued moist northwest flow will keep lighter snow showers going at the higher elevations on Tuesday with another 1-4” by the afternoon.
Even as a shallow ridge of high pressure moves over the West behind the storm, another incoming Pacific storm may graze our area and bring a cold front near our area on Wednesday. So there may not be much of a break behind the Tuesday storm before light snow showers start again, with minor accumulations possible at the higher elevations through Wednesday night.
A ridge of high pressure is currently advertised to build over the West behind the grazing storm yielding a dry, mostly sunny and much warmer forecast for the end of the work week and the following weekend.