Snows likely from Sunday through Tuesday
Thursday, December 5, 2019
Snows have been falling at a moderate rate this Thursday morning in Steamboat Springs, with 5” being reported at mid-mountain and 6” up top on the 11 am snow report update. A bit more snow can be expected through the rest of today before snows end tonight. A couple of nice days are forecast for Friday and Saturday before a long-duration snow event with significant accumulations is advertised from Saturday night through Tuesday.
Today, a relatively warm storm is traversing over Colorado and is the remnants of the southern part of the split storm that passed over our area earlier in the week. Snows will continue into the evening with up to an inch or two of additional accumulations possible.
Behind the storm and ahead of our next Pacific storm, mostly sunny skies and warming temperatures are forecast for Friday and Saturday as a ridge of high pressure quickly moves over the Rocky Mountains. High temperatures on Friday should be several degrees above our average high of 30 F, with high temperatures for Saturday five to ten degrees above that average.
Meanwhile, a large Pacific storm currently off the West Coast is forecast to make landfall late Friday night or early Saturday morning and move across the Great Basin on Sunday as it mixes with some cold air drawn southward from western Canada. Additionally, the storm looks to incorporate subtropical moisture on Saturday in the southwesterly flow ahead of the storm, creating a long-duration snow event that will begin late Saturday or early Sunday and last through Tuesday.
Details are still evolving with this powerful storm, but right now it looks like we will see two main waves of significant snowfall; the first during the day Sunday in the warmer part of the storm and the second from Sunday night through some of Monday in the colder part of the storm. This second part of the storm is currently the most uncertain, not only because if is later in the forecast period, but also because there is weather forecast model disagreement on the amount of energy in the southern part of the storm.
While there could be a small amount of snow on the Sunday morning report, we could see 6-12” of relatively dense snow during the day and through the evening on Sunday in the generally westerly flow ahead of the parent storm. Around Sunday night or early Monday morning, a cold front is expected to pass through the area, lowering snow densities and creating some light and fluffy powder that will ski great on top of the denser layer of snow underneath.
There may be a break in snowfall for a time later Monday, but orographic, or terrain-driven, snow showers, which occur in our case when air is lifted by the Park mountain range, will occur from Monday night through Tuesday in the favorable cold, moist and unstable northwest flow.
A couple of days break is currently advertised for around midweek before some sort of storm may bring snows back to our area around Thursday.