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Big storm likely Thursday

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Warm temperatures and partly sunny skies are over Steamboat Springs this Sunday afternoon, with more of the same forecast through midweek. Several interacting storms will bring precipitation chances back to our area starting Wednesday night, with a good chance of a significant and cold storm on Thursday. Though we will see breaks, unsettled weather is forecast for the weekend and the following work week.

The Bob Adams airport has a current temperature of 49 F temperature, seven degrees above our average of 42. The partly sunny skies and warm temperatures will be around for Tuesday and part of Wednesday ahead a large storm just off the West Coast that is currently pounding the Sierras with strong winds and heavy snow.

A Pacific storm currently rounding a ridge of high pressure in the Gulf of Alaska is forecast to split, with the southern part of the split forcing the West Coast storm southward along the coast later Tuesday while the northern part travels through western Canada and mixes with the cold air there. This southern part of the split is absorbed by the West Coast storm and forces it to elongate along the coast, even as another Pacific storm forces the complex across the Great Basin on Wednesday.

The evolution of the storm system will be complicated, with the elongated storm dumb-belling through the Great Basin and bringing first clouds later Wednesday followed by precipitation Wednesday night.

Meanwhile, the cold northern part of the split storm is forecast to graze our area and bring a cold front through on Thursday, The interaction of the cold front and the leading part of the Great Basin storm is forecast to bring a period of moderate to heavy snows to our area. Additionally, the colder temperatures mean the snow will be much lighter and fluffier than the storms we have seen recently, with travel likely difficult at times. Guessing snowfall amounts for Friday morning on Sunday afternoon is hazardous, but 6-12” of snow or more is possible.

Weather forecast models disagree on how much energy is left behind on the western side of the dumbbell, though they agree that another Pacific storm, some of which may pass through the Gulf of Alaska, will force what’s left of the dumbbell storm over our area sometime next weekend for another round of snow.

And the storminess looks to continue the next work week as this next Pacific storm is forecast to move across the Great Basin and eventually our area.

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