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Sunny and warm work week ahead of unsettled weekend

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Warm temperatures in the low fifties and mostly cloudy skies are over the Steamboat Springs area this Sunday mid-afternoon. We’ll see sunnier and warmer weather through midweek before precipitation chances increase later Thursday and through the weekend.

Currently, a strong storm just off the northern California coast has become an eddy that is forecast to slowly sink along the California coast through midweek. The clouds over our area today are a result of a small batch of energy and moisture ahead of the storm, but the clouds are forecast to be replaced with sunny skies and temperatures five to ten degrees above our average of 49 F through midweek.

The storm is forecast to turn eastward by Wednesday and travel across the Desert Southwest through the end of the work week. Weather forecast models usually struggle with the speed and track of these eddies as they are cut off from the strong steering flow of the jet stream, and this storm is no exception.

While the bulk of the precipitation will fall to our south, there is a chance of perhaps significant precipitation from later Thursday through at least part of Friday according to at least one of the weather models. Regardless of the amount of precipitation, snow levels are likely to be relatively high thanks to the several days the storm will have spent warming in the lower latitudes, and storm specifics will have to wait until my next scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon.

Meanwhile, a ridge of high pressure is forecast to build in the Gulf of Alaska by the work week’s end, and this forces several waves of Pacific energy to ride over this ridge and mix with some cold air from the north. The first wave passes over our area around Friday night into Saturday and the second approaches our area by the end of the weekend.

So we will transition from the warm southwesterly flow for most of the work week to cooler northwest flow for the weekend. Again there are weather forecast model differences with the track and available moisture of these northwest storms, but cooler and unsettled weather is forecast for the following weekend.

For what its worth, and even though I expect the forecast to change over the coming days, the European ECMWF has the first northwest wave bringing significant snow to our area heading into the weekend while the American GFS is much weaker. But the GFS brings a significant snowstorm to our area early in the following work week with the second wave while the European ECMWF initially keeps that storm to our west.

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